Tuesday, November 17, 2015


If you look at the Princeton men's basketball year-by-year results, you'll notice two scores from November of 1997.

Princeton 62, Texas 56. Princeton 38, North Carolina State 36.

Those two games were played at the Meadowlands Arena as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. TigerBlog is pretty sure it was the first Coaches vs. Cancer event, or maybe the second.

It was also one of three games Princeton played that year at the Meadowlands. The other was against Wake Forest, also a Princeton win, that one 69-64, in the Jimmy V. Classic.

For the record, here are four things that TigerBlog didn't need to look up:

1) the scores of any of those games
2) the fact that Dick Vitale made the best speech TigerBlog has ever heard in person when he addressed the crowd in between games of the Jimmy V event. He was talking about the fight against cancer, and he was just incredible. It was riveting. It was startling to TB just how good Vitale was, and TB has never forgotten it
3) the winning points in the game against North Carolina State came when Brian Earl's shot was goaltended

And 4)?

The games against Texas and N.C. State were played in an experimental four-quarter format.

TigerBlog remembers some talk after the game about how the format helped Princeton, because it killed any momentum that Texas or N.C. State might have put together. Or something like that. None of that talk came from Princeton.

The premise was, though, that a four-quarter format would help a team that wasn't considered as strong. At least that's what they said that night. By the end of the year, Princeton would be 27-2 with the best record in Division I and ranked in the top 10 nationally, so "stronger team, weaker team" on that night was debatable.

Anyway, the quarterly experiment must not have worked, since men's college basketball remains two 20-minute halves.

This year, though, the women's game has changed, adopting the 1997 Coaches vs. Cancer format of four 10-minute quarters.

Based on the Princeton's women first weekend of the season, it's hard to draw any conclusions about the quarters versus halves format.

The score at the end of the first quarter of Princeton's first game, Friday night against a very good American team that won the Patriot League a year ago, was 7-2. Maybe it was the quarter format. Maybe it was the first game of the season rustiness.

Whatever it was, the final score of the game was 72-34 Princeton. The Tigers then followed that up with a 94-66 win over Duquesne Sunday afternoon.

So, uh, yeah, Princeton women's basketball is back in business.

The Tigers ran their regular-season winning streak to 32 straight games, after the 30-0 regular season last year, which was followed by the first NCAA win in program history.

Princeton honored Blake Dietrick, the 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year, at the game Sunday. Her absence means Princeton is without its leader from a year ago, as well as a great outside shooter, passer and finisher near the basket.

Still, Princeton has four starters back from a year ago. And a deep bench. And some newcomers. And a coaching staff that long ago figured it out.

Courtney Banghart has a career record at Princeton of 171-67. Of course, you need to keep in mind that she was 7-23 her first year and 14-14 her second year, so if you add that together, she was 21-37 her first two years.

So, with a little more math, you find out that in her last six years and one weekend, Courtney is 150-30. That is ridiculous.

Let's say that again. She is 150-30 in her last 180 games. That's a .833 winning percentage.

Here's another nutty stat. Annie Tarakchian is the first Ivy League Player of the Week for 2015-16. Add that to the fact that Princeton won the award every single week last year, and that's 15 straight Ivy Player of the Week awards for the Tiger women.

Having said all that, TigerBlog does not think Princeton will be unbeaten for the 2015-16 regular season. Hey, the next game - Thursday night at Seton Hall - will hardly be easy.

A year ago, the Pirates went 28-6 and reached the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Rutgers in the first round. Last night Seton Hall improved to 2-0 on this season with a 77-49 win over that same Rutgers team.

For Princeton there is also a trip to Ohio State out there, as well as home games against teams like Michigan, Pitt and Fordham.

Going 30-0 in the regular season isn't something that's going to happen a lot.

On the other hand, Princeton seems to have figured it out. They've won a lot. They often overwhelm their opponents. They shoot. They defend. They share the ball. They're fun to watch.

They do this with players who have won some of the most prestigious off-court honors Princeton has to offer, which makes it

And they've done this with more than one dominant class. It's not like the bottom fell out when Niveen Rasheed graduated.

Banghart and her staff have put together something very special here.

They're off to a 2-0 start this year, and they look to have picked up where they left off last year. Yes, there's a long way to go.

Still, Princeton women's basketball, much like last year, is not to be missed. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that the women's teams, including basketball, do not have more fans in attendance. Courtney has done a great job, the women are fun to watch and a great group of people representing Princeton.