Women's Basketball: Tigers learn from Ivy blowouts
They beat Yale by 46 on Sunday, and in their last four games they have outscored their opponents by 154. They’re scoring an average of 18.2 points per game more than their opponents, a number that jumps up to 36.8 against Ivy League opponents.
This is fantastic, if not exciting, for fans of the program. But what about the program itself? It’s hard to imagine a team in this situation not becoming a little complacent, at least during Ivy play.
“We have to look at it like this is about us and what we’re trying to do both in our Ivy League season and beyond,” head coach Courtney Banghart said. “It involves being disciplined; it involves growing week to week; it involves getting our other personnel some game experience.”
Although players and coaches insist they never take a win for granted, it is clear that winning is not the only goal anymore. In order to get something out of these blowouts, Princeton is using them to build a foundation on which to rely in the postseason. Banghart said her team has done a good job of sticking to its game plan regardless of how competitive the game is, and that the Tigers do not care about the margin of victory. That might be easy for them to say, but the Tigers also say there is no time in any game at which they decide to change what they are doing because of their lead.
“We stick to our game plan pretty closely,” sophomore guard Blake Dietrick said. “It’s easy to continue the game plan, especially because going undefeated last year, we know what works.”
Dietrick admitted not being able to play more competitive teams was “frustrating,” but she also said winning big was good for the team.
“The younger kids get more minutes,” she said. “I think it helps us in the long run.”
Indeed, Banghart pointed to Dietrick, along with fellow sophomore guard Mariah Smith and junior forward Kristen Helmstetter, as examples of players who have benefited from the experience.
“They didn’t have a lot of playing experience in past years,” she said of the trio. “And we are getting so much from those three.”
Helmstetter had never started a game before this season, but she has started in all but five of the Tigers’ 19 games so far. She is second on the team in points, with more offensive production than some who have started every game. Smith has yet to start a collegiate game, but she has made the most of her playing time — she leads the team with 18 blocks, a quarter of all the team’s blocks.
Banghart credited this improvement in the roster’s depth to Princeton’s ability to grow while overpowering opponents, and Dietrick, who has started only six games but has played the second-most minutes of anyone on the team, concurred.
“It was really nice to get that experience and that confidence,” she said. “Now when I come off the bench I feel like I belong in the first five and belong with them.”
The increased confidence of non-starters could be the key difference, come playoff time, for a team that is otherwise very similar to the Princeton squad that bowed out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year. Last year its smallest margin of victory in the Ivy League was 12 points, but this year it is 30. Those extra 18 points might be irrelevant in terms of wins and losses, but they represent a time in which the Tigers have improved, top to bottom. Time will tell if that improvement is enough to allow them to break through for the first tournament win in program history.
Reader Comments (0)
No comments yet. Be the first to post your opinion on this article.