Ivy Hoops Online’s Erica Denhoff covered the DallasWings’ trip to take on the Connecticut Sun in Uncasville on June 22. Here are her thoughts on the experience:
The last time I covered a sporting event was March 6, 2020. With my cameras and my spot on the baseline, I captured Brown men’s basketball claiming victory against Harvard to keep Bruno’s Ivy Madness hopes alive. Early the next morning, I boarded a plane to go on vacation to watch MLB’s Grapefruit League spring training games in Florida. The plan was to return back to Boston in time to cover Ivy Madness.
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.)
Ivy Hoops Online caught up with all-time Princeton great and new Dallas Wing Bella Alarie to see how she’s been doing since she became a WNBA draftee last week.
She may be turning pro, but she’s still got her senior thesis to finish.
“I am getting there,” Alarie said. “But I admit the week of the draft was distracting. Now that I have a little breather I can finish it up. It’s due in a few days and I’m going to make it.”
Alarie played primarily in the post as a college player. She sees herself as a stretch four, and the Wings staff agrees.
“I played guard as a teenager and didn’t reach my full height until I got to Princeton,” Alarie said. “I was very comfortable handling the ball and running the floor. The Wings expect me to shoot threes and play at a fast pace. I am really looking forward to the whole thing.”
With the nation continuing its fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the sports world on hiatus, the WNBA will provide some actual live entertainment on Friday night as the league’s draft will be televised at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN. Ivy hoops fans will have an additional bit of interest waiting to hear Bella Alarie’s name.
Alarie, a three-time Ivy League Player of the Year, four-time first team All-Ivy, two-time AP Honorable Mention All-America and all-time Princeton leader in both points and blocks, looks to be the third Ancient Eight athlete picked in Draft history and the first chosen in the opening round since Harvard’s Allison Feaster went No. 5 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks in 1998.
This has been a week of tumultuous developments in the Ivy League, most of them sad and disappointing.
But there has been some good news from the league as well. Players of the Year have been announced: Paul Atkinson from Yale and AJ Brodeur from Penn on the men’s side, and the incomparable Bella Alarie from Princeton, for the third year in a row, on the women’s.
Alarie is the only Princeton player to have won the POY award three times and to be named a first-team All-Ivy player in all four years of her college career. She has been more than a once-in-a-generation player. She has achieved once-in-a-lifetime status.