Guard Lauren Edwards ’12 was named to the All-Ivy team in each of the last two seasons.
Guard Lauren Edwards ’12 was named to the All-Ivy team in each of the last two seasons.
Beverly Schaefer

Despite the graduation of Addie Micir ’11 — the Ivy League Player of the Year, now playing professionally in Luxembourg — the women’s basketball team has no shortage of stars this season. 

Niveen Rasheed ’13, now healthy after missing the 2011 Ivy slate with a torn knee ligament, is the favorite to keep Micir’s title in Princeton. Rasheed will be joined by first-team All-Ivy players Devona Allgood ’12 and Lauren Edwards ’12, as well as Defensive Player of the Year Lauren Polansky ’13. That core, surrounded by several players who would start at most rival schools, will form what might be the best team in the league’s recent history.

The Tigers will have chances to prove that against a vicious nonconference schedule. Three of their 14 opponents were ranked in last season’s final poll — No. 4 Stanford, No. 10 DePaul, and No. 21 Marist — while Delaware and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, are favored to win their respective leagues.

“Our schedule’s very unforgiving,” head coach Courtney Banghart said. “What I love is that’s what our kids are most excited about. They want to know what our holes are, because for them, it’s the Ivy League followed by trying to win a first-round [NCAA Tournament] game.”

Even better for the Tigers and their fans is that many big games — including Marist Nov. 21 and DePaul Dec. 13 — will be at Jadwin Gym. Before the team opened play against St. Joseph’s on Nov. 11, it held a streak of 22 straight home victories spanning 23 months, which Banghart attributed to the team’s consistency.

But in the last two years of the program’s defining surge, that consistency has fizzled in the third week of March. Though the level of competition rises in the NCAA Tournament, Princeton’s first-round exits — double-digit defeats that were all but over by halftime — have been disappointing. Banghart believes that if the team returns for a third Big Dance, the onus will be on the top players.

“We certainly have the depth, but March is when your stars have to shine,” she said. “Let the depth be the depth and let the stars be the stars, and if we do, I think we can make magic happen.”