On her first official day as women’s basketball coach at the University of North Carolina, Courtney Banghart was asked what she was most proud of in her 12 seasons at Princeton. “We had players that dared to be great,” she said. “There were some expectations of how far basketball could go in the Ivy League, and we just smashed that.”
Indeed, the Princeton women had never even reached the NCAA Tournament before Banghart’s arrival. She guided the Tigers to their first appearance in her third season, 2009–10, when freshman Niveen Rasheed ’13 made a dazzling debut and helped her team to a 14–0 Ivy League record. In the next nine seasons, Princeton made seven more trips to the tournament — six as the Ivy champion and one as an at-large selection. In 2014–15, the Tigers were a perfect 30–0 in the regular season, climbed to the top 15 in the national polls, and won their first-round tournament game. Banghart was named the Naismith College Coach of the Year.
Princeton basketball fans are familiar with the bittersweet feeling of seeing a successful coach move on to a larger conference. Bill Carmody left the men’s team for Northwestern in 2000, and his successor, John Thompson III ’88, departed for Georgetown four years later. But this was the first time a women’s coach made a comparable move — the last of many firsts in Banghart’s celebrated career with the Tigers.
After a national search, Princeton selected Carla Berube to be Banghart’s successor on May 29. Berube, a former UConn standout, has led Tufts University to the Division-III Final Four four times, reaching the national title game twice. She will inherit a much-praised recruiting class, an Ivy-champion roster led by honorable-mention All-American Bella Alarie ’20, and the elevated expectations Banghart and her teams created in the last decade.
This is an updated version of a story from the June 5, 2019, issue.