Dishin & Swishin 2/19/15 Podcast: Courtney Banghart & Princeton enjoying making life difficult for NCAA Selection Committee

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Let us call it the mid-major conundrum.

A dominant mid-major program sweeps their pre-conference schedule, including a few solid, if not spectacular, tournament credentialed teams, then steamrolls through their regular season conference games. In this case, there is no conference tournament, so the team ends their season undefeated, without a blemish.

If this where a power five conference, or a program like Connecticut, we would be talking number one seed and a place in history. However, it is Princeton we are talking about, and that leads to tough decisions regarding seedings and placements for the NCAA selection committee, something the Tigers and coach Courtney Banghart enjoy very much.

Princeton had not made the NCAA tournament prior to Banghart’s arrival on the scene. Now they have been in the NCAA tournament three of the last four years, and are looking to secure their place in history with only a few more Ivy League games remaining, including a tough finale with Penn.

The Tigers have been dominant, winning virtually all of their games by double figures. Their out-of-conference victories include road wins at Michigan by 30 points, and at Pittsburgh by 16. Seven players are averaging 17 or more minutes per game, necessitated by the unusual Ivy League schedule of no games during the week, and back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday.

They are led by guard Blake Dietrick, who is symbolic of what Banghart hopes from her players. As an unheralded freshman, Dietrick played in only 23 games, averaging a little over eight minutes per game. As a sophomore, she started six games, and as a junior blossomed into an all-conference selection. Now a senior, Dietrick is co-captain of the Tigers, named to the Nancy Lieberman watch list and the Naismith Trophy Midseason 30. A multiple-time conference player of the week and a USBWA national player of the week, she is averaging career-highs in points (15.0), assists (5.3) and rebounds (4.6) per game, while shooting a career-best 49.2 percent from the field and 46.6 percent from three.

It is a pleasure to have Banghart on Dishin & Swishin this week, discussing the difficulties facing not only Ivy League members as student-athletes, but also all mid-majors in scheduling, but also gaining national attention and recognition.

It is an interesting look at the mid-major conundrum, and it is clear that Banghart enjoys the fact the Tigers plus programs like Chattanooga, James Madison, and Florida Gulf Coast are bringing attention to the dilemma facing mid-majors and the NCAA selection committee.

Enjoy the podcast!

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