Friday, March 23, 2012

Final Buzzer

TigerBlog, somewhat shockingly, watched more CBI basketball than NCAA basketball so far this week. He's sure that will change as the weekend goes along, though right now the score is "CBI games watched on TV since Monday 2, NCAA tournament games watched in the same span 1."

Princeton's men's basketball season ended with a loss to Pitt in the CBI Monday (TB listened to that one on the radio), and it was a week ago that the women were in Bridgeport getting ready for their NCAA game.

Still, before the book is closed on the 2011-12 Princeton basketball seasons, TB has one more thought on each team.

Let's start with the women.

TigerBlog was minding his own business when he got an email yesterday that had the subject line of "WBCA Announces Finalists for the 2012 RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA DI Coach of the Year Award."

TB opened the email and read the first paragraph:
Muffet McGraw of Notre Dame, Brenda Frese of Maryland, Tom Collen of Arkansas, Curt Miller of Bowling Green, Kim Mulkey of Baylor, Coquese Washington of Penn State, Reagan Pebley of Utah State and Tara VanDerveer of Stanford are the 2012 RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Regional Coaches of the Year, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced today.

Okay, good for them.

And as TB read further, he saw that there was one finalist for each region nationally, which meant that Frese was the representative of this region.

This is knock on Frese, whose Terrapin team is 30-4 and playing in the Sweet 16 against Texas A&M this weekend.

Still, TB has a hard time believing that anyone in this region deserves it more than Princeton's Courtney Banghart.

Go ahead. Call TB a shill.

After all, he did spend the first 14 games of year as the women's basketball contact. And he isn't exactly objective in all this, given that this is Princeton's blog.

Even with all that, how can anyone be more deserving than Banghart?

Yes, Maryland has had a great year. Of course, Maryland also is one of the elite programs in women's basketball, a team that has won an NCAA title and is more likely than not to win 30 games and go to the Sweet 16.

Sure, Frese built all that. Her team won 10 games her first year, a decade back.

It's just that this year is essentially what Maryland women's basketball is supposed to be.

And Princeton?

The Tigers had never played in the NCAA tournament in women's basketball before Banghart arrived. This year was the third straight time the Tigers were in the tournament.

Princeton went 24-5 this year, lost its NCAA game by three points, had three players reach 1,000 career points and was the only team in Division I - men or women - to go undefeated in its league while winning every game by double figures.

Of Princeton's 14 Ivy League wins, 12 were by at least 25 points.

To go from seven wins her first year to Ivy titles and NCAA tournament appearances in her third, fourth and fifth is remarkable.

Still, if that was all there was to it, then it would just be a nice job in a non-power league.

What Princeton did this year was break into the national Top 25, coming in at No. 24 in the final regular season poll. No Ivy League women's basketball team had ever accomplished that.

Yes, Coach of the Year often goes to the coach of the best team, rather than the coach who did the most compared to what reasonable expectations might be. If it was the other way around, then Banghart would be on the list. No question.

On the men's side, Douglas Davis finished his career with 1,550 career points, second-best all-time at Princeton.

Davis scored 51 points in two CBI games to pass Kit Mueller, who had 1,546.

Davis played in 13 more games in his career than Mueller, but their career minutes were fairly similar. Davis also is second all-time at Princeton in three-pointers made with 276, five off the school record held by assistant coach Brian Earl.

What put Davis over the top as a scorer was his ability to create his own shot, especially driving into the lane and pulling up from 10-15 feet. Very few Princeton players have ever had that skill, certainly not to Davis' extent.

Davis is one of three players (among 30) in program history to score 1,000 points and not be named first-team All-Ivy League. The other two? Bob Roma and Dan Mavraides.

Maybe it's a testament to his consistency. Davis wasn't a spectacular player for Princeton. He was just a very solid, very consistent, very reliable one.

Oh, and he did make one of the two biggest shots in school history.

Barring injury or some other member of what Bill Carmody always called "The Whammy" family, Davis will get to enjoy being the No. 2 scorer in Princeton history for one season, until Ian Hummer passes him next year.

Hummer has 1,170 career points and scored 515 this year. If he does that next year, then he'll have 1,685, or two more than Sandi Bittler (now Leland) scored in her Princeton career.

Right now, Bittler ranks second behind Bill Bradley among points scored at Princeton. Niveen Rasheed, as an aside, will enter her senior year with 1,134 points, leaving her 549 away from Bittler; Rasheed had 490 this year.

Bradley scored 2,503, in three years, without a three-point shot. Just for some context.

Had Bradley not destroyed the record book, then there would have been a great deal of drama to Davis' pursuit of Mueller and now Hummer's pursuit of Davis.

Because of Bradley, Davis' climb was more steady and a bit under the radar, as was the player himself during his career.

It's his accomplishments that are spectacular.

The same goes for Courtney Banghart.

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