How Princeton women’s basketball clawed its way to the top of the Ivy League

The 2019-20 Princeton women’s basketball team’s campaign ended all too quickly due to COVID-19, but not before demonstrating the enduring strength of the program under a new coaching staff. (Princeton Athletics)

The 2019-20 Princeton women’s basketball team was by no means a “one-hit wonder.”

It was the product of a process begun more than a dozen years ago. Successful coaches do more than win games; they build a program, an organization that can produce highly competitive teams year after year. Successful programs are designed to withstand graduations, injuries, and the inevitable clash of egos and personalities in groups of a dozen or more highly competitive and talented individuals. To achieve success in college basketball over time is incredibly difficult. To achieve credibility on the national scene with a mid-major program and no athletic scholarships defies belief. Princeton has done that.

In 1970, the 225th year of Princeton’s existence, school administrators decided to adopt the revolutionary idea of coeducation, not coincidentally, I have always believed, in the year following my graduation. One year later, varsity basketball was introduced as a women’s intercollegiate sport. The Tigers enjoyed early success, winning the first four Ivy titles following the launching of a women’s postseason tournament in 1975. (The women played a postseason tournament until 1982. In 2017, the present tournament format was adopted. The top four men’s and women’s teams compete at the same site over the same weekend to determine the league’s NCAA representatives.)

Read moreHow Princeton women’s basketball clawed its way to the top of the Ivy League

Ivy hoops roundup – May 11, 2020

Yale women’s incoming class announced

Yale women’s basketball announced its three-member Class of 2024 Monday. The class consists of:

  • Brenna McDonald, a 6-foot-2 forward from Natick, Mass. who was named to the Boston Globe Dream Team her senior year
  • Haley Sabol, a 6-foot-2 forward from Pittsburgh who was a first-team all-state selection her junior and senior years for Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va.
  • Elles van der Maas, a 6-foot-2 guard from Sydney who made the 2018 All-Australian team

Read moreIvy hoops roundup – May 11, 2020

Ivy hoops roundup – Aug. 16, 2019

  • Princeton Bella Alarie and the rest of her USA teammates earned the silver medal at the recent Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.  The U.S. went 4-1 overall but lost the finals to Brazil, 79-73.  This is the second silver medal for the two-time Ivy Player of the Year, as she was a member of the U-19 FIBA World Cup team in the summer of 2017.
    Alarie finished the tournament averaging 6.6 points, 21.4 minutes and 5.6 rebounds a game.  Her four total blocks and eight steals led the team.  She shot 50% from two (15-for-30) and the free throw line (3-for-6), but missed all three attempts from beyond the arc.  After losing a 62-59 heartbreaker to the U.S. in the semifinals, Puerto Rico bounced back to defeat Columbia, 66-55, in the third-place game.
    Alarie wasn’t the only Ivy Leaguer to take part in the tournament.  Recent Dartmouth grad Isalys Quinones played for bronze medalist Puerto Rico.  Quinones, a second team All-Ivy forward in 2019, started four of the team’s five games and averaged 7.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 22.4 minutes per contest.
  • In other Pan American Games action, Brown head coach Mike Martin helped lead the USA men’s team to a bronze medal after a 92-83 victory over the Dominican Republic on August 4.

Read moreIvy hoops roundup – Aug. 16, 2019

Former Princeton coach Bill Carmody announces his retirement

Then-Princeton coach Bill Carmody directs future Princeton coach Mitch Henderson during the Tigers’ battle with Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1998. Henderson later was an assistant on Carmody’s coaching staff at Northwestern. “He always does the right thing,” Henderson said of Carmody to IHO following Carmody’s retirement announced Tuesday. (Getty Images)

Former Princeton men’s basketball coach Bill Carmody announced his retirement from coaching late Tuesday afternoon, stepping down as coach at Holy Cross.  In a career that spanned over 40 years, Carmody spent 18 of them with the Tigers as an assistant and head coach.  He finishes with a record of 342-308 as a Division I head coach at Princeton, Northwestern and Holy Cross, including a 92-25 (.786) mark with the Orange & Black.  Between 1996-2000, he led the Tigers to a 50-6 (.893) Ivy record, two first-place finishes, and a first round victory over UNLV in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.

Read moreFormer Princeton coach Bill Carmody announces his retirement

Ivy hoops roundup – May 4, 2019

Another week full of Ivy news, with none bigger than Courtney Banghart’s move from Princeton to North Carolina.  The former Big Green All-Ivy guard and Tigers head coach signed a five-year contract to take over a Tar Heels program that needs a new start.  Per Jeff Gravely of WRAL in Raleigh, Banghart’s contract starts at $650,000 in 2019-2020 and increases to $730,000 in 2024-2025.  Athletic and academic bonuses are included that can increase the yearly salary by $10,000 to $470,000.

Read moreIvy hoops roundup – May 4, 2019

Ivy Madness presser highlights

Not dissimilar from the NCAA Tournament, the Ivy held open shootarounds for the public and press conferences involving coaches and top players yesterday at the Palestra.

One could only wonder during the Yale men’s noon practice what could have been, with arguably the team’s two best players, Jordan Bruner and Makai Mason on the bench, injured and unable to play.

Coach James Jones summed up Mason by noting,”If Makai didn’t have bad luck,he wouldn’t have luck at all,” adding that Mason thinks he may have mono.

Princeton coach Courtney Banghart of Princeton was outspoken in her press conference about the tournament venue. She didn’t find it fully fair that a 1 seed could play a 2 seed on the 2 seed’s home floor, obviously alluding to a possible matchup with Penn on Sunday.

Read moreIvy Madness presser highlights

Ivy women’s update – Feb. 17, 2017

With three weeks left in the regular season, we’d like to update the readers on the women’s basketball results.

Read moreIvy women’s update – Feb. 17, 2017

Who will be Cornell’s next head coach?

With the firing of Bill Courtney, Cornell will begin a national search for a new head men’s basketball coach.  Who might be targets for the Big Red search committee?  Can the past help decide the future?

Here is a list of the Cornell coaches from the last 40 years:
2010-11 through 2015-16: Bill Courtney (Graduate of Bucknell)
1st Head Coaching job
15 years as Division 1 Assistant and Associate Head Coach, including 8 seasons working under Jim Larranaga at George Mason
60-113 overall and 27-57 Ivy; No post-season appearances; Highest Ivy standing was 5th place
2000-01 through 2009-10: Steve Donahue (Ursinus)
1st Head Coaching job
12 years as college Assistant Coach, including 10 seasons working under Fran Dunphy at Penn
146-138 overall and 78-62 Ivy; 3 Ivy League titles; 3 post-season appearances, including a Sweet 16 run in 2009-10

Read moreWho will be Cornell’s next head coach?

Ivy 60 for 60: Craig Robinson

Craig Robinson was the first two-time recipient of the Ivy Player of the Year award. (Princeton Athletics)
Craig Robinson was the first two-time recipient of the Ivy Player of the Year award. (Princeton Athletics)

Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, three IHO writers give their individual perspectives of Craig Robinson, one of the greatest players in Princeton basketball history… 

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Q&A with Sports Illustrated senior writer Alexander Wolff

Now that's a clever book title.
Now that’s a clever book title.

Alexander Wolff, Princeton ’79, has a new book out that studies Barack Obama through his love of basketball, and that’s good news for anyone who likes sharp biographical and political writing. Wolff, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated who has been on the publication’s staff longer than anyone else (since 1980), was kind enough to answer a few questions from IHO about that book, The Audacity of Hoop: Basketball and the Age of Obama.

Ivy Hoops Online: What was your first exposure to Ivy basketball?

Alexander Wolff: I grew up in Princeton until age 12. I remember as a six-year-old being sent to bed by my parents on a December night in 1964 and understanding that they, and not I, would be watching Princeton and Bill Bradley play Michigan and Cazzie Russell in the Holiday Festival later that night. It made a huge impression on me because, even then, I knew my parents didn’t care at all about sports, yet Bradley and the Tigers had so captured the community that even they had gotten hooked. A few years later I sat right behind the bench at a Princeton freshman game in Dillon Gym and watched Geoff Petrie and John Hummer play. I also caught the occasional Les Keiter telecast on Channel 17 from the Palestra . . .

Read moreQ&A with Sports Illustrated senior writer Alexander Wolff