Results tagged “Princeton basketball”

Co-captains Niveen Rasheed '13, right, and Lauren Polansky '13 at the NCAA Tournament press conference in Waco, Texas, March 23. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
Co-captains Niveen Rasheed '13, right, and Lauren Polansky '13 at the NCAA Tournament press conference in Waco, Texas, March 23. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)

When asked to describe Princeton’s style of play in a March 23 NCAA Tournament press conference, co-captain Lauren Polansky ’13 talked about the team’s depth, defense, and offense before adding a simple summation.

“I think the best way to describe us is very determined, and we’re a bunch of fighters,” she said.

The Tigers, making their fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, hope that determination and fight will carry them to the first postseason win in program history.

Led by a talented and dynamic senior class, Princeton earned the Ivy League title with a 13-1 record. The league championship, combined with a 9-5 mark against a very strong slate of nonconference opponents, landed the Tigers in the NCAA field with a No. 9 seed and a first-round matchup against Florida State.


Princeton (9) vs. Florida State (8)
March 24, 5:10 p.m. ET, Waco, Texas
TV: ESPN2/ESPN3/WatchESPN

Co-captain Niveen Rasheed ’13 said the team sees the opener as “the biggest game of our lives,” and head coach Courtney Banghart said Princeton is well past the point of being just happy to reach the tournament. But Banghart also stressed the need to keep emotions in check when the game begins:

“We talk about playing with execution first and emotion second, and I hope that after preaching the two that in some way it sticks in their heads. … Part of my job tomorrow is to manage the game and part of that is to manage the emotions that the athletic mortality of my seniors brings.”

Read more about the Tigers and Seminoles below.

Ian Hummer '13's 23-point, 14-rebound performance propelled Princeton to victory against Harvard. The Crimson also lost to Penn, giving the Tigers sole possession of first place in the Ivy League. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
Ian Hummer '13's 23-point, 14-rebound performance propelled Princeton to victory against Harvard. The Crimson also lost to Penn, giving the Tigers sole possession of first place in the Ivy League. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)

In basketball, perhaps more than in any other sport, there is an expectation that star players will decide close games. Like most sports clichés, this one contains as much falsehood as it does truth; for every game-winning highlight from Michael Jordan or Christian Laettner, there is another by a player like Robert Horry or Keith Smart, sidekicks who made critical shots.

When the men’s basketball team faced Harvard on Friday night, however, there was no question who the biggest star was — and nobody left Jadwin Gym doubting his influence on the game. In what was effectively a must-win game for the Tigers — a loss would have put Harvard two games ahead with three remaining — Ian Hummer ’13 made the three biggest plays of Princeton’s season, willing the hosts to a 58-53 victory that kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive.

A second-generation Princeton basketball standout — his father Ed ’67 and uncle John ’70 each wore the orange and black — Hummer added to his already robust legacy in Friday’s game. With an old-fashioned three-point play early in the second half, he passed Doug Davis ’12 for second place on Princeton’s all-time scoring list, trailing only Bill Bradley ’65; he also ranks among the program’s top 10 in rebounds, assists and blocked shots, and he’s one good game from adding steals to that list.

But Hummer’s play down the stretch was even more memorable than his milestone. With the Tigers trailing by one point and two minutes remaining, point guard T.J. Bray missed a medium-range shot, but Hummer crossed the lane from the weak side, rose through traffic, controlled the ball with one hand and laid it in softly off the glass, coming down with a 52-51 lead.

Thirty seconds later, with Princeton down by one point once again, there was no doubt where the ball was going. Coming out of a timeout, Hummer outmuscled Steve Mondou-Missi to get extremely deep post position; the Harvard forward had no choice but to foul Hummer, who made both free throws and gave Princeton another one-point lead.

That margin held until the final seconds, when Mack Darrow ’13 missed the front end of a one-and-one. Hummer rose above Mondou-Missi to tap the rebound back toward the Princeton backcourt; as it neared the sideline, Bray slapped it back in play with a full-extension drive, and Denton Koon ’15 collected it, drawing a clock-stopping foul and making both free throws.

Hummer intercepted Harvard’s last-ditch inbounds pass for good measure, sending a crowd of 4,413 home happy and keeping the Ivy League race alive. Hummer’s final line: 23 points, 14 rebounds, and one Ivy League Player of the Year trophy that can be all but engraved already. “He was a monster,” Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker said in the postgame press conference.

When women’s basketball coach Courtney Banghart came out of the locker room after Princeton’s game against Rutgers on Thursday night, she couldn’t hide a huge grin on her face. And Banghart had reason to smile — not only had her team just defeated Rutgers 71-55, Princeton’s first win in the New Jersey rivalry since 1978, but after a few shaky games at the beginning of the season, the Tigers seemed to be finding their groove.
 
“If we had played these guys 10 days ago, we would have lost by 20,” Banghart said after the game. “We had a lot of improvements to make.”
 
Kristen Helmstetter ’14 scored 14 points in her first start, helping the Tigers beat Rutgers Nov. 29. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
Kristen Helmstetter ’14 scored 14 points in her first start, helping the Tigers beat Rutgers Nov. 29. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
Even during its 12-game head-to-head losing streak, Princeton had given Rutgers plenty of scares over the years, including a fantastically entertaining 54-53 game in 2010 that was decided in the final seconds. This year, the Tigers didn’t put themselves in a position to let another one slip away. Against a team that was still receiving votes in the Top 25 polls, the hosts handled Rutgers’ pressure and rolled to a 26-9 lead out of the gate; Princeton’s advantage reached as many as 25 points in the second half. (“The score doesn’t really tell the story — we crushed them,” Banghart said.)
 
At the beginning of the season, it looked like Niveen Rasheed ’13 would have an even larger role in Princeton’s offense after the graduation of the second- and third-leading scorers from the 2011-12 team, Lauren Edwards ’12 and Devona Allgood ’12. And the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year certainly hasn’t had a bad season, averaging 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while ranking second in the league in assists. But Rasheed is also shooting just 39 percent from the floor — well below her previous average — and has more turnovers than assists for the first time in her career.
 
The bigger story has been Princeton’s secondary scorers — which is a much deeper group than in past seasons. Rasheed is always a central part of the Tigers’ offense, but the other pieces seem almost interchangeable. At UCLA last Sunday, forward Kristen Helmstetter ’14 played a total of three minutes; in her next game, she started in place of injured guard Nicole Hung ’14 and scored 14 key points against Rutgers. Center Meg Bowen ’13 had a forgettable night on Thursday, finishing with one point and one rebound; against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, on Sunday, she notched her first career double-double. “This team has shown that on every night, someone else steps up,” Banghart said.
 

By now, fans of the men’s basketball team should know not to worry about slow starts. Last year, Princeton won only one of its first six games — losing to undistinguished foes such as Elon and Morehead State — before going on to post 20 wins. And two years ago, the preseason Ivy favorites started the season 2-3 with a couple of puzzling losses before turning it around to reach the NCAA tournament.
 
So it’s hardly surprising that this year’s Tigers, in what has practically become a rite of passage, have struggled out of the gate. In fact, the start of this season is almost a perfect match for 2010-11: After being picked to win the Ivy League, Princeton won a close opener against a strong team (then Rutgers, now Buffalo) but dropped three of its next four, including a back-breaking comeback (then 20 points vs. James Madison, now 18 points vs. Northeastern) and a blowout loss at a top-10 school (then Duke, now Syracuse).
 
Ian Hummer '13 (Photo: Courtesy Office of Athletic Communications)
Ian Hummer '13 (Photo: Courtesy Office of Athletic Communications)
And these Tigers clearly have the potential to pull it together by the time conference play rolls around, just like their predecessors did. With the league’s best player, forward Ian Hummer ’13, leading a tall and experienced roster, few would be surprised if Princeton fulfilled its preseason expectations and became the last Ivy team standing in March.
 
“[We need to] not get discouraged,” head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 said after losing at Syracuse on Wednesday. “I think we can be pretty good … but we have to bounce back from where we are.”
 
Princeton has shown flashes of that potential several times already this season. The Tigers sped out to a 7-0 lead at Buffalo, a 21-10 lead against Northeastern, and a 12-3 lead against Rutgers in their first three games. But each time, Princeton followed with frustrating stretches to let its opponent back in the game (often with Hummer on the bench — the Tigers have been outscored by 25 points in 39 Hummer-less minutes).
 
At the Carrier Dome on Wednesday, the Tigers instead had their exasperating moments early on. Princeton played the No. 6 Orange even over the middle 20 minutes of the game, but only after starting in a 20-8 hole. “We came out a little flat ... I thought we played well at times, but we need to put together a full 40 minutes, and we haven’t done that yet,” Hummer said Wednesday night.
 

While Princeton worked to contain star forward Jalana Childs, pictured, Kansas State’s other forward, Branshea Brown, responded with a career-high 22 points. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
While Princeton worked to contain star forward Jalana Childs, pictured, Kansas State’s other forward, Branshea Brown, responded with a career-high 22 points in the Wildcats' 67-64 win. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
Bridgeport, Conn. – Moments before the women’s basketball team’s NCAA Tournament game against Kansas State on Saturday, head coach Courtney Banghart looked much more nervous than usual. Playing not as a long-shot underdog but in the proverbial first-round toss-up game, 9-seed vs. 8-seed, Princeton came in with the highest expectations of Banghart’s seven trips to the Big Dance as a player and coach.
 
And in the opening minutes, the Princeton players seemed tense as well. Showing a lack of poise and patience early on, the Tigers committed sloppy turnovers and gave up open shots, allowing the Wildcats to take a 5-0 lead that could have been twice that. Sitting in nearly the same spot from which I watched Princeton’s previous two tournament games, all I could think was, “Oh no, it’s happening again.”
 
Last March, Princeton brought a team of tournament-tested players to Maryland, where they faced fifth-seeded Georgetown in the first round. After scoring first, the Tigers were blitzed by a 22-3 Hoyas run that virtually ended the game before the second media timeout. Two years ago, in Tallahassee, Fla., Princeton lasted a little bit longer, but a 13-2 run by sixth-seeded St. John’s turned a one-possession game into a comfortable lead midway through the first half.
 
But this year, things were supposed to be different. With the highest seed and first national ranking in Ivy League history, these Tigers were supposed to be tougher to keep down. And, as it turned out, they were: Princeton responded with a 12-2 run on Saturday, taking a five-point lead at the 12-minute mark.
 
“Before the game, Coach Banghart kept reminding us that it doesn’t matter what happens in the first three minutes, we’re going to be out there for the full 40 minutes,” guard Lauren Edwards ’12 said. “It took us a few minutes to get into our rhythm, but when we finally did, we played well and executed our game plan.”
 
After the Tigers loosened up, the contest became, as Banghart said, “a game of alternating currents.” Kansas State scored seven straight points to re-take the lead, Princeton grabbed the advantage back with four points of its own, and so the rest of the game went. The Wildcats held a four-point lead at halftime, but the Tigers flipped it with a 10-2 run, taking the lead when center Devona Allgood ’12 ripped a missed free throw from a defender’s hands and laid it in while being fouled.
Niveen Rasheed '13 (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
Niveen Rasheed '13 (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
Despite 20 points, nine rebounds, and six assists by star forward Niveen Rasheed ’13, Princeton women’s basketball fell just short of its first NCAA Tournament victory, losing 67-64 to Kansas State in Bridgeport, Conn., Saturday afternoon.
 
Senior Devona Allgood scored 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds, while classmate Lauren Edwards also contributed 15 points in her final collegiate game.
 
“This was definitely the best we’ve played out here in the tournament, and we put everything out on the floor today,” Allgood said. “We don’t have anything to hang our heads about. We did what we wanted, except for win.”
 
Kansas State led by four at halftime and started to pull away in the latter part of the second half. But Princeton answered the Wildcats and trailed by four points with the ball at one point in the final minute. When that possession ended with a turnover, the Tigers were forced to foul, and Princeton’s comeback bid ran out of time.
 
Head coach Courtney Banghart praised her team’s resilience. “As I told them, you know you’re going to get a hard fighting Princeton Tigers team,” she said. “They play hard, and they play together. That’s who we are.”
 
Read more about the Tigers in Kevin Whitaker ’13’s Monday column on The Weekly Blog and in the April 4 print edition of PAW.
The Tigers (24-5) have dominated the Ivy League in the last three seasons, winning 41 of 42 league games, including a perfect 14-0 mark in 2012. Allgood, Edwards, and reserve guard Laura Johnson ’12 closed their careers with a third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament – and as Allgood noted, the program’s best postseason showing. Princeton had lost by double-digits in its two previous appearances.
 
Kevin Whitaker ’13 contributed to this report.
Coach Courtney Banghart with her team's three 1,000-point scorers: Lauren Edwards '12, left; Niveen Rasheed '13, second from right; and Devona Allgood '12, right. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
Coach Courtney Banghart with her team's three 1,000-point scorers: Lauren Edwards '12, left; Niveen Rasheed '13, second from right; and Devona Allgood '12, right. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
This week was filled with milestones for the women’s basketball program. On Monday, Princeton was rated No. 24 in the Associated Press poll, becoming the first Ivy League team ever listed in the national rankings. And that evening, the Tigers earned a No. 9-seed in the NCAA Tournament, the best seeding ever for a team from the Ancient Eight.
 
But those feats will not be well remembered unless the team achieves another milestone on Saturday: the first NCAA Tournament victory in program history. After losing by double digits to St. John’s and Georgetown in 2010 and 2011, respectively, this season marks the best chance yet for Princeton to win in the postseason.
 
Head coach Courtney Banghart summed up her view in the Ivy League postseason media teleconference earlier this week: “If we do what we do well, we’ll be a really good team.”
 
Fans tuning in to the Tigers’ first-round game against No. 8-seed Kansas State (11:20 a.m. Saturday, ESPN2 or ESPN3) who are expecting a flowing, pretty game of basketball likely will be disappointed. Both teams are defense-oriented and will try to make Saturday’s game as ugly as possible. Kansas State enters the game allowing 56.7 points per game; Princeton holds teams to 35 percent shooting and has not given up more than 60 points in a game since the calendar read 2011.
 
The typical profile of an Ivy League team is “soft,” but that does not describe this year’s Tigers, who rebound better than they do anything else. Over the course of the season, Princeton grabbed 59.6 percent of total missed shots, the third-best mark in the nation; Kansas State was near the average at 49.6 percent, though against tougher competition. Princeton already broke the Ivy League mold by putting up even rebounding numbers against Georgetown and St. John’s, but they’ll need a sizable advantage this year.
 
That is largely because Kansas State should be able to overcome the next-biggest strength of Princeton’s defense, a swarming press designed to force turnovers. The Tigers induced 19.4 miscues per game, but the Wildcats gave it away only 14.5 times and have experience facing high-pressure defenses.
Based on usage statistics, Ian Hummer '13 has been involved in a third of Princeton's offensive possessions. (Beverly Schaefer)
Based on usage statistics, Ian Hummer '13 has been involved in a third of Princeton's offensive possessions. (Beverly Schaefer)
One week into December 2010, the Princeton men’s basketball team was on its first winning streak, having recovered from a rocky neutral-site stretch with three consecutive victories. One week into December 2011, the Tigers are on their first winning streak after losing two of three games in a similar neutral-site tournament. Tiger fans know how last year ended, so things can’t be too bad for this year’s team, right?
 
Well, last season’s Ivy League lacked a nationally ranked team in Cambridge, for one thing. But beyond Harvard’s rise, the beginning of the season has exposed some flaws in the 2011-12 Tigers. Their record through eight games is 3-5, the inverse of last year’s mark (though they have scored 10 more points than they have allowed on the year). And gone is a 16-game home winning streak: Princeton has fallen at Jadwin Gymnasium twice in four games.
 
Though wins are certainly better than losses, Princeton’s current two-game streak says as much about the caliber of its opponents (Division-II West Alabama and Lafayette) as it does about its own play, and losses within the previous fortnight to Elon and Morehead State were not confidence-inspiring. With a seven-game road trip on the horizon – and 12 straight road games against Division-I opponents, a stretch that will last into the middle of February – let’s look at some of the factors in Princeton’s slow start and identify what the Tigers can do to contend for a high position in the Ivy League.
 
Lacking support
 
Everyone expected that, with the graduation of Kareem Maddox ’11 and Dan Mavraides ’11, second-team All-Ivy forward Ian Hummer ’13 would be the focal point of Princeton’s offense. But Hummer’s workload so far has been extreme. The 6-foot-7 junior has attempted more than 10 field goals in all but one game while ranking second on the team with 21 assists.
 
At times, the Tigers have done little more on offense than put the ball in Hummer’s hands, and the stats bear that out. Hummer’s usage rate (a statistic that uses shots, assists, and turnovers to determine what percentage of a team’s plays someone is involved in when he is on the floor) is currently 33 percent; only 13 regulars nationwide have a higher usage, and no other Ivy League player is as high as 28 percent. (Hummer led Princeton regulars in usage last year, but at 26 percent, his rate was in line with the numbers of Maddox and Mavraides.)
 
Women’s basketball coach Courtney Banghart expected her team’s play to be “messy” this season, compared with last year – a faster tempo, full-court pressure, and more steals, but also more turnovers.
 
Princeton’s first three games followed that pattern, as the Tigers forced nearly 25 turnovers per game, kept their own miscues in check, and won all three contests by double figures, including a 56-41 win over Villanova Nov. 19.
 
Marist, a mid-major powerhouse that had the fewest turnovers in Division I last season, tested the Tigers’ new style Monday night – and Princeton responded, outlasting the Red Foxes for a 68-51 win, the team’s 25th consecutive victory at Jadwin Gym.
 
“This was a quick turnaround with two very good teams, so I think it does prepare us for [the Ivy League schedule],” Banghart said afterward. “But I hope we’re a different team in February. I still want more from our group.”
 
Laura Johnson '12 (Office of Athletic Communications)
Laura Johnson '12 (Office of Athletic Communications)
In the first half, Princeton forced 10 Marist turnovers, including a handful that came from the Tigers’ trapping press defense. But the Tigers’ own turnovers – 11 in the half – kept them from pulling away. They led for most of the period and held a two-point edge at halftime.
 
After the break, as the Red Foxes improved against the press, Princeton tightened its half-court defense, forcing a pair of shot clock violations and holding Marist to 8-for-27 shooting from the floor (29.6 percent).
 
On offense, Princeton broke through with its best 3-point shooting performance of the young season. Backup point guard Laura Johnson ’12 hit three 3-pointers, including two on consecutive possessions to give the Tigers their first double-digit lead, 54-43, with 7:38 remaining.
 

After two straight Ivy League championships and the graduation of its leading scorer, the Princeton women’s basketball team returns a wealth of talent this year, as Kevin Whitaker ’13 reports in the Nov. 16 issue of PAW. Princeton holds a 22-game winning streak at home and will test that record Nov. 11 when it opens against St. Joseph’s, one of five teams that managed to beat the Tigers in 2010-11.
 
Below, PAW provides a brief look at the Tigers and the season ahead.
 

Quick facts

Devona Allgood '12 (Beverly Schaefer)
Devona Allgood '12 (Beverly Schaefer)
 
2010-11 record:
24-5, 13-1 Ivy League (champion)
 
2010-11 team leaders:
Scoring – Addie Micir ’11, 12.1 ppg
Rebounding – Devona Allgood ’12, 7.2 rpg
Assists – Micir, 3.2 apg
Steals – Lauren Polansky ’13, 1.8 spg
Field-goal percentage – Allgood, 53.4 percent
3-point field-goal percentage – Micir, 46.1 percent
Free-throw percentage – Micir, 81.3 percent
 

Key returners

Niveen Rasheed ’13, guard
Less than a year after tearing the ACL in her right knee, Rasheed said she is back at full strength and ready to pick up where she left off. Arguably the best player in the Ivy League, she averaged 16.4 points per game last season before the injury. The Tigers plan to use Rasheed more as a guard or wing player this year, to take advantage of her speed and quickness. That provides match-up problems for opponents: Rasheed, at 6 feet tall, can drive past most players of comparable height; but if teams try to counter with a smaller, faster guard, she can move to the post and find scoring opportunities there as well.
 

New men’s basketball coach Mitch Henderson ’98 and his Tigers open the season against Wagner at Jadwin Gym Nov. 12. Henderson, a former Princeton captain and Northwestern assistant under coach Bill Carmody, is profiled in the Nov. 16 issue of PAW.
 
Below, PAW provides a brief look at the Tigers and the season ahead.
 

Quick facts

Douglas Davis '12 (Beverly Schaefer)
Douglas Davis '12 (Beverly Schaefer)
 
2010-11 record:
25-7, 12-2 Ivy League (co-champion)
 
2010-11 team leaders:
Scoring – Kareem Maddox ’11, 13.8 ppg
Rebounding – Maddox, 7.0 rpg
Assists – Dan Mavraides ’11, 2.7 apg
Steals – Douglas Davis ’12, 1.2 spg
Field-goal percentage – Maddox, 56.8 percent
3-point field-goal percentage – Mavraides, 38.6 percent
Free-throw percentage – Mack Darrow ’14, 80 percent
 

Key returners

 
Douglas Davis ’12, guard
Davis celebrated his game-winning jump shot against Harvard by reclining on the floor and raising two fingers on each hand – one of the most indelible images from a memorable Ivy playoff game. If he hopes to raise those fingers again, to mark a second NCAA Tournament trip, Davis will have to continue in his role as a dynamic scorer and provide leadership as one of the Tigers’ senior captains. (Forward Patrick Saunders ’12 is the other.)
 

Mitch Henderson '98 was on the cover of Princeton Alumni Weekly in his senior year, when the Tigers entered the postseason with a 26-1 record.
Mitch Henderson '98 was on the cover of the Princeton Alumni Weekly in his senior year, when the Tigers entered the postseason with a 26-1 record.
Mitch Henderson ’98 will be the next men’s basketball head coach at Princeton, taking over a history-rich program that recently shared the Ivy League title under the direction of Sydney Johnson ’97, one of Henderson’s former teammates.
 
Henderson, who has been an assistant to former Tiger coach Bill Carmody at Northwestern University since 2000, will be introduced on campus April 21.
 
“Mitch has developed and polished his craft at Northwestern, a Big Ten university that is similar in philosophy with its commitment to the student-athlete – with emphasis on both sides of that hyphen,” said Gary Walters ’67, the director of athletics, in a press release.
 
Henderson said in the release that he’s “never stopped being a fan” of Princeton basketball. Like many alumni, he was watching the Princeton-Harvard Ivy playoff game when Douglas Davis ’12 hit a buzzer-beating jump shot to send the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament. “When Doug’s shot went through the net, I jumped off my couch, I was so happy,” Henderson said. “I was excited for Sydney and his staff, and for the team. I feel like I know our guys already.”
 
The 2010-11 Tigers were 25-7, posting the program’s best record since 1997-98, when Henderson was a senior captain of a team that won a school-record 27 games and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. On April 5, Johnson announced he was leaving Princeton to become the head coach at Fairfield University in Connecticut.
 
Henderson, a four-year starter as an undergraduate, has spent his entire coaching career at Northwestern, helping the Wildcats reach the NIT in each of the last three seasons. He is the fourth consecutive alumnus to head the Princeton program, following Johnson, Joe Scott ’87, and John Thompson III ’88.

Sydney Johnson '97 (Office of Athletic Communications)
Sydney Johnson '97 (Office of Athletic Communications)
Sydney Johnson ’97, head coach of the Ivy League champion men’s basketball team, resigned from Princeton April 4 to become the coach at Fairfield University. A national search for his successor is underway, according to a statement by Director of Athletics Gary Walters ’67.
 
In four years with the Tigers, Johnson’s teams were 66-53 overall. He led a remarkable turnaround that culminated with three memorable games this March: a 70-58 win over Penn at the Palestra that clinched a share of the Ivy title; a 63-62 last-second victory against Harvard in the Ivy playoff game; and a 59-57 loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.
 
Walters thanked Johnson for his contributions in a press release. “Obviously we’re disappointed that he is not staying to carry on the tradition of Princeton basketball,” he said. “But as a Princeton basketball alumnus, we wish him well as he takes another career step.”
 
Since 29-year veteran Pete Carril retired in 1996, no Princeton men’s basketball coach has stayed with the program longer than four seasons. Bill Carmody (1996-2000) left for Northwestern, John Thompson III ’88 (2000-04) departed for Georgetown, and Joe Scott ’87 (2004-07) moved on to Denver.
 
Johnson, a three-year captain as an undergraduate, returned to Princeton after assisting Thompson at Georgetown for three seasons. His first Tiger team stumbled to a 6-23 record, but from that point forward, the program made a steady climb in the Ivy standings. In 2009-10, the Tigers finished 22-9 overall and 11-3 in Ivy games, placed second behind Cornell, and reached the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational. This season, Princeton finished 25-7 overall, 12-2 in Ivy play, and won all 12 of its games at Jadwin Gym.

Addie Micir '11 scored 13 points in Princeton's loss to Georgetown. (© Beverly Schaefer)
Addie Micir '11 scored 13 points in Princeton's loss to Georgetown. (© Beverly Schaefer)
On March 20, 2010, the women’s basketball team – coming off a stellar regular season in which it outscored its Ivy League competition by 21.6 points per game – allowed 65 points to a Big East foe in a disappointing NCAA Tournament loss.
 
On March 20, 2011, the Tigers – coming off another great regular season in which they outscored conference foes by 21.6 points per game – allowed, yes, 65 points to another Big East team in another first-round exit.
 
This time, it was the fifth-seeded Georgetown Hoyas who knocked the Tigers out of the postseason, cruising to a 65-49 victory in College Park, Md., and handing Princeton its only double-digit loss of the season.
 
“To say I’m disappointed would be a gross understatement,” head coach Courtney Banghart said after the game. “That was not the version of Princeton basketball I’ve seen all year.”
 

On Tuesday, Princeton women’s basketball head coach Courtney Banghart gave a candid assessment of her team’s approach to its NCAA Tournament opener against Georgetown in College Park, Md. “Last year was our dance,” she said, “and this year is a work trip.”
 
Ivy League opponents may have already sensed that the Tigers mean business: After dropping a Feb. 4 game at Harvard, defending-champion Princeton dominated the league, winning each of its 10 remaining games, including eight victories by 20 points or more. Even more impressive may be the team’s record – 16-1 – since losing top scorer Niveen Rasheed ’13 to a season-ending knee injury in late December.
 
In Rasheed’s absence, senior Addie Micir added to her already impressive contributions, leading the Tigers with 92 assists while only turning the ball over 39 times. She also topped the team in scoring (12.1 points per game) and hit a nearly unthinkable 46.8 percent of her 3-point attempts (fourth-best in Division I). Micir was named the Ivy Player of the Year, becoming the first Princeton woman to earn that honor.
 
Micir ’11
Allgood ’12
Edwards ’12
Polansky ’13
Miller ’13
(Photos: Office of Athletic Communications)
 
Two other Tigers – center Devona Allgood ’12 and guard Lauren Edwards ’12 – joined Micir on the All-Ivy first team. Allgood averaged 12 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, while Edwards added 11.7 points per game and made 44.6 percent of her 3-pointers. Princeton’s other starters are Lauren Polansky ’13, a pass-first point guard who averages 2.9 assists per game and was named Ivy Defensive Player of the Year; and Kate Miller ’13, whose minutes increased after Rasheed’s injury. Miller averaged 5.1 points per game in Ivy play.
 
In close games this season, the Princeton men’s basketball team usually came out on top. The Tigers won five Ivy League games by five points or less, had a perfect 4-0 record in overtime, and earned their NCAA Tournament berth with a buzzer-beating win over Harvard March 12.
 
Brandon Knight releases the game-winning shot. (© Lexington Herald-Leader/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Brandon Knight releases the game-winning shot.
(© Lexington Herald-Leader/ ZUMAPRESS.com)
After clawing its way back against Kentucky March 17, Princeton entered the last minute in an enviable position: down by two points, with the ball. Dan Mavraides ’11 made a hard dribble into the defense, stopped, jumped, and hit a jump shot to tie the game, 57-57.
 
This time, though, the last-second magic would go against Princeton. Kentucky ran the clock down to 0:05. Freshman star Brandon Knight, who had been held scoreless in the game, made his move, driving down the right side of the lane to slip a running bank-shot just beyond the reach of defender Kareem Maddox ’11. The shot fell with 0:02 left, giving the Wildcats a 59-57 lead. Princeton’s final chance, a running heave by Maddox, never reached the basket.
 
Princeton finished the season with a 25-7 record, an Ivy League championship, and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004. Read more about the Tigers in the April 6 issue of Princeton Alumni Weekly.
 
Princeton basketball in the news:
 
Pushed by Princeton, Kentucky wins in final seconds [New York Times]
 
Princeton made believers of us all in the NCAA Tournament [Star-Ledger]
 
Princeton coach overcome with emotion after loss to Kentucky [USA Today]
 
College hoops fans bring color to the Forum [TampaBayOnline]
 
Knight's drive propels Kentucky past Princeton [Associated Press]
 
Nearly a Cinderella story [Wall Street Journal]
 
Princeton can't match 13th-seed magic in NCAA basketball loss to Kentucky [Bloomberg]
 
wb_sports.jpg Princeton fans will have a chance to see the men’s basketball team in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004 when the Ivy League-champion Tigers take on Kentucky this afternoon in Tampa, Fla. Once you get past the obstacle of watching a basketball game in the middle of a workday, there are a handful of options for following the action on TV, online, or by radio.
 
Video: CBS will broadcast the game live, at approximately 2:45 p.m. Eastern (the game time may vary, depending on when the 12:15 p.m. game between West Virginia and Clemson concludes). All NCAA Tournament games also are available online through March Madness on Demand.
 
Audio: WPRB 103.3 FM and GoPrincetonTigers.com will provide radio and internet radio coverage.
 
Live blog: The Daily Princetonian offers score updates and in-game commentary through the CoverItLive platform.
From December through March, the take on this year’s Princeton team has been fairly consistent: These are not your father’s Tigers. They’re not a walk-it-up, slow-it-down team. They will run, when given the opportunity, and they can hold their own as rebounders, even against major-conference teams.
 
Princeton (25-6, 12-2 Ivy) has averaged 69.4 points per game – nine more than last year and 19 more than the Tigers of 2006-07, the season before head coach Sydney Johnson ’97 arrived. (Longtime Princeton fans will note that the Tigers hadn’t always averaged 50 points per game. Relatively high-scoring teams roamed the courts of Dillon and Jadwin gyms from the Bill Bradley ’65 years through the mid-1970s, and even the 1995-96 team that famously topped UCLA 43-41 averaged 60.9 points per game before the NCAA Tournament.)
 
Paradoxically, Johnson credits defense with driving his team’s faster pace. “We’ve made major, major strides defensively,” he said. “We can pressure people, we can turn people over, or we can just grind it out in the half-court defensively, and so that allows us to get out and go a little bit more.”
 
Maddox ’11
Hummer ’13
Mavraides ’11
Davis ’12
Saunders ’12
(Photos: Office of Athletic Communications)
 
On offense, Princeton’s big four – Kareem Maddox ’11, Ian Hummer ’13, Dan Mavraides ’11, and Douglas Davis ’12 – account for 75 percent of the scoring. Maddox and Hummer, the team’s top interior players, each average 13.9 points per game and were among the Ivy League leaders in field-goal percentage (56.5 and 55.7 percent, respectively). Mavraides is a dual threat to shoot 3-pointers or drive to the basket. Davis, the team’s best 3-point shooter, also has a deadly mid-range game, as Harvard learned in the final second of the Ivy playoff game.
Addie Micir '11, the Ivy League Player of the Year. (© Beverly Schaefer)
Addie Micir '11, the Ivy League Player of the Year. (© Beverly Schaefer)
 
The Princeton men’s and women’s basketball teams have had a lot in common over the last four years:
 
  • Both Tiger teams welcomed new coaches in the spring of 2007 (Sydney Johnson ’97 for the men, Courtney Banghart for the women).
  •  
  • Both programs struggled in 2007-08, improved in 2008-09, and reached the postseason in 2009-10 (the women went to their first NCAA Tournament, while the men accepted a bid to the College Basketball Invitational).
  •  
  • And this week, both teams will represent the Ivy League in the NCAA Tournament. The Princeton men drew Kentucky in an opening-round game that will be played in Tampa, Fla., March 17 (approx. 2:45 p.m. on CBS). The Princeton women face Georgetown in College Park, Md., March 20 (2:30 p.m. on ESPN2).
 
Check The Weekly Blog Wednesday and Friday for previews of the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament games, and click here for more news from the blog archives.
(Courtesy TKTK)
(The Daily Princetonian Larry Dupraz Digital Archives)
When Gabe Lewullis ’99 has a rare block of free time during his sports medicine fellowship at New England Baptist Hospital, he often heads to the Harvard Business School gymnasium. Over the years, a group of former Ivy League basketball players who now work in Boston have established an invitation-only pick-up game at the breeding ground of Wall Street’s next top draft picks. Lewullis received his introduction to the game from Matt Henshon ’91, a practicing lawyer and captain of Princeton’s 1991 men’s basketball team.
 
When Lewullis gets in a game, he inevitably drifts out to the right wing of the 3-point line while on offense. Once there, he pauses for a moment in hopes of catching his defender off guard. Then, he plants his left-leg and cuts sharply to the basket. If another Princeton graduate has the ball at the top of the key, he whisks a bounce pass to the cutting Lewullis, who will likely catch the ball in stride and lay it in the hoop for two easy points. Then Lewullis prepares for what always comes next. “When they see Princeton guys playing together,” he says, “if we beat them backdoor, you know you’re going to hear about it.”
 
For this, Lewullis has only himself to blame.
 
Fifteen years ago on a mid-March night in the basketball Mecca of Indianapolis, the freshman who had started just two games since December made the backdoor cut seen around the country. His subsequent layup clinched Princeton’s 43-41 win over the defending national champion UCLA Bruins in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament. It was victory No. 525 in the storied career of retiring Tiger head coach Pete Carril. For the gray-haired man sometimes called the Yoda of college hoops, it was also his first NCAA Tournament win in 13 years. In the decade leading up to the UCLA game, Carril had developed an unwanted reputation for wearing Cinderella’s slipper for 39 minutes, only to have it fall off on the doorstep of upset immortality.
 
The game also sparked a vast web of interconnected stories, memories and myths that continues to grow 15 years later. But none of it would have been possible, if not for a little-remembered game played the previous Saturday on the campus of Lehigh University.

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