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

IHO staff share favorite NCAA Tournament moments for Ivies

It’s been a long month.

But since this is STILL March, as Jon Rothstein has noted – one without a NCAA Tournament – now’s as good a time as ever for Ivy Hoops Online’s contributors to reflect back on our favorite moments for Ivies in the Big Dance.

Read moreIHO staff share favorite NCAA Tournament moments for Ivies

Yale bests North Carolina, hands Tar Heels their first home loss under Courtney Banghart

Watch out, Princeton and Penn. Yale is lurking in the background in plain sight.

The Elis upset favored and high scoring UNC, 66-63, Saturday at fabled Carmichael Arena, before a crowd of 2,632. It was the lowest point output of the season for the Tar Heels, coached by former Princeton coach Courtney Banghart.

Read moreYale bests North Carolina, hands Tar Heels their first home loss under Courtney Banghart

Princeton head coaching position remains vacant, but Alarie’s Pan American Games group is set

Princeton’s two-time reigning Ivy Player of the Year Bella Alarie has found out who her draw for the start of the Pan American Games will be as a member of the United States Pan American Games Team.

FIBA announced Thursday that the USA will play at the 2019 Pan American Games women’s basketball competition in preliminary round Group B, along with Argentina, Colombia and U.S. Virgin Islands. Playing in preliminary round Group A will be Brazil, Canada, Paraguay and Puerto Rico.

The 2019 Pan American Games women’s basketball competition will take place August 6-10 at the Coliseo Eduardo Dibo in Lima, Peru, but tip-off times, the order of games and competition format are yet to be determined.

Also still to be determined is who Princeton’s next head coach will be, even as the list of sensible possibilities gets smaller while the coaching staff for Princeton’s last head coach gets bigger.

Read morePrinceton head coaching position remains vacant, but Alarie’s Pan American Games group is set

Courtney Banghart named coach at North Carolina, ending dominant run at Princeton

Courtney Banghart compiled a 254-103 (.711) overall record and 137-31 Ivy record (.816) in 12 seasons at Princeton while winning 89 more games than any other coach in program history. She now heads to North Carolina. (UNC Athletics)

Courtney Banghart took over as head coach at Princeton in 2007 aged just 29 with only four years as an assistant coach at her alma mater Dartmouth.

She leaves Princeton with 254 career victories and seven Ivy League championships, leading Princeton to its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance and then seven more en route to notching more than 36% of the program’s wins in its 48-year history herself.

North Carolina named Banghart its head coach Tuesday, seeing her as the key to a refreshing program restart after the messy exit of predecessor Sylvia Hatchell, who resigned earlier this month after 33 years at the helm in Chapel Hill, including a national championship in 1994, following an independent investigation finding that she made racially insensitive remarks to her players and pressured some to play through injury.

In its announcement of the Banghart hire, North Carolina Athletics led off by touting Banghart’s leadership credentials.

Read moreCourtney Banghart named coach at North Carolina, ending dominant run at Princeton

Harvard all-time moment No. 7: Harvard’s amazing comeback vs. North Carolina in first round of 2015 NCAA Tournament

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Harvard is next because …go Knicks!

March 15, 2015 was Selection Sunday, and Harvard fans and players gathered in the Murr Center in Cambridge to see who the Crimson would face in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This was the fourth consecutive year the Crimson would be dancing. In the previous three years, they had faced three solid teams in Vanderbilt, New Mexico and Cincinnati. Then the brackets were revealed, and Harvard learned that this year it was matched against perennial national championship contender North Carolina. Everyone knew this year would be different.

Read moreHarvard all-time moment No. 7: Harvard’s amazing comeback vs. North Carolina in first round of 2015 NCAA Tournament

Princeton all-time moment No. 4: 1997-98 Ivy champions

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. We’re starting with Princeton because that’s where Joseph Stalin’s daughter defected to. In Soviet Russia as in the United States, Princeton offense runs you!

Bill Carmody, an honorary member of the Class of 1975, joined Pete Carril’s staff in 1982. He spent the next 14 productive and mostly glorious seasons watching and learning. When Carril decided to retire after winning his final Ivy title on a heart-stopping three pointer by Sydney Johnson in a playoff against Penn (who else?), he made it known that no one was better qualified to succeed him than Bill Carmody.

Bill’s all too-brief four year tenure as head coach was among the most dominant periods ever in the long history of Tiger hoops. His overall record was 92-25. In the Ivy League he was 50-6, including a remarkable 28-0 in 1996-97 and 1997-98.

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Final thoughts on the 2014-15 Harvard season

Harvard took North Carolina to the wire last week in Jacksonville, bowing 67-65 to the Tar Heels in the Crimson's sixth NCAA tournament game since 2012. (Rob Crawford)
Harvard took North Carolina to the wire last week in Jacksonville, bowing 67-65 to the Tar Heels in the Crimson’s sixth NCAA tournament game since 2012. (Rob Crawford)

A few days after watching Harvard’s season end in Jacksonville with Wesley Saunders’ final shot clanking off the rim and backboard, it seems an appropriate time to look back on the Crimson season that was. Amid the shock and nostalgia comes perspective … and withdrawal. Here are my final thoughts on Harvard’s memorable 2014-15 season:

Read moreFinal thoughts on the 2014-15 Harvard season

2015-16 IHO Powerless Poll

Ben Franklin AQ 3Now that Harvard has been vanquished by North Carolina, Ivy basketball is officially over for the summer.  Since no one is still playing, you could say we are all equally impotent—or are we?  Thus, I give you the first annual IHO Powerless Poll. Naturally, as is my custom, I will rank teams according to how I view them from most feeble to strongest.

8. Cornell: Now that Shonn Miller is headed to some Power 5 school, the natural order of the Ivy will magically be restored and the Red can return to their rightful place at the bottom. Yes, Bill Courtney did make a nice recovery from the disaster that was the 2013-14 season, but success in Ithaca is as fleeting as the four days of summer that town is allotted each year. Look out below.

Read more2015-16 IHO Powerless Poll