Although Princeton Athletics named Carla Berube as the Tigers’ new coach all the way back on May 29, it wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon that Princeton’s Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan formally introduced new head coach Berube to the Tigers community and media.
Berube, a national champion with UConn in 1995, said she called her college coach, Geno Auriemma, immediately after the Tigers’ job was posted.
“That’s perfect,” said the Hall of Famer. “You’re ready for it.” He then reached out to Marcoux Samaan that same day to offer his support for his former point guard.
At the end of April, Courtney Banghart left Princeton to take the open position at North Carolina. Over her 12 years at Princeton’s helm, she built the Tigers program into a conference power with national relevance. In order to continue the forward progress of the program, the AD knew that this was a very important hire.
“We’re trying to win the Ivy League, first and foremost, but we’re also trying to be great nationally,” said Marcoux Samaan. “We win a lot here at Princeton and we wanted someone who knows how to win.”
Berube certainly fits that bill.
In her four years at UConn, Berube went 132-8 (.942) and captured the 1995 national championship with a 35-0 record. As the head coach at Tufts for the last 17 seasons, her teams went 384-96 (.800) and made it to two Division III finals, four Final Fours and 16 Sweet Sixteens. As the head coach for USA Basketball U-16 and U-17 National Teams, she guided those teams to gold medals at the 2017 FIBA Americas Championship and the 2018 FIBA World Cup.
The coach was the recipient of the 2015 Pat Summitt Award, which goes to the nation’s top Division III coach, and was twice honored with a USA Basketball Developmental Coach of the Year Award.
“I just know how to win,” said the Tigers’ 10th head coach in program history.
Berube understands that there are some similarities between the NESCAC and the Ivy League, but there will still be a period of adjustment. “On the academic side, I’m sort of recruiting the same kind of driven student-athlete with the same requirements academically,” said the new coach. “I’ve got a lot to learn, but there’s so many people here who are willing to help out in this transition, so many great coaches I’ve met in the last few weeks.”
One such adjustment will be in recruiting, a vitally important factor in Marcoux Samaan’s hiring decision. Berube will be looking near and far for her prototypical athletes, one who is passionate about the game and has a high motor on both ends of the floor. “We’ll be out more than I was at Tufts, but excited about the ability to cast a bigger net across the country and maybe across the globe.”
One person who could make that transition easier is Addie Micir, a six-year Ivy assistant at Dartmouth and Princeton, the 2011 Ivy League Player of the Year and the sole remaining coach from Banghart’s staff. While Berube’s name and contact information have now been placed on the team’s coaching staff page, Micir’s information has been removed.
Neither Marcoux Samaan nor Berube made any mention about any staffing decisions during today’s press conference and Princeton Athletics did not immediately respond to an inquiry from IHO about Micir’s employment status Wednesday night.
No matter who ends up on her staff, Berube knows that her team will be strong on the defensive end. Over the last eight seasons at Tufts, her teams have been top-six in scoring defense and were tops in the nation for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
“Player-to-player defense is vital,” said the coach when describing her philosophy. “We get after it on that end because we think that it can lead to easy baskets on the offensive end.”
With the return of two-time Ivy Player of the Year Bella Alarie, first team All-Ivy point guard Carlie Littlefield and sophomore wing Abby Meyers, the two-time defending champions will look to make it a three-peat in 2019-2020. “There’s a great returning group coming back and also a great incoming freshman class,” noted Berube. “I want to win, so we’ll just keep on doing it.”