In eight years as a player and assistant coach for the Dartmouth women’s basketball team, Courtney Banghart reached the NCAA Tournament four times, including two seasons in which the Big Green beat co-champion Princeton in a postseason showdown. Now, as Princeton’s new head coach, Banghart hopes to reverse history and lead the Tigers to their first tournament bid.
Athletics director Gary Walters ’67, who introduced Banghart May 31, said the hire was “déjà vu,” coming just over a month after Sydney Johnson ’97 was named head coach of men’s basketball. Like Johnson, Banghart was a team captain and two-time Ivy champion as an undergrad who became an assistant coach for a successful program a few years after graduation.
Since 2003, Banghart has worked under Chris Wielgus, the winner of 10 Ivy titles in her 22 seasons at Dartmouth. “[Wielgus] had given me a lot of freedom and prepared me well for this position,” she said. “Now you go from offering suggestions to making decisions.”
Banghart takes over for Richard Barron, who left Princeton to become associate head coach at Baylor. Barron’s Tigers shared the Ivy championship with Brown and Dartmouth in 2005–06 before sliding to fourth place with a 13–15 overall record last season.
While Banghart’s address has changed, she does not expect much of a difference in her recruiting routes, which seem to overlap for all Ivy coaches. “If you go to a gym and they’re not all there, you think, ‘I must be in the wrong place,’” she joked. But Banghart has added one new line to her pitch: “How do you feel about orange and black?”