PRINCETON: ‘Grandma’ has Tigers focused

Micir, PU women’s hoops open Ivy play with sweep

By Justin Feil, Assistant Sports Editor
   Just as she did last year, Addie Micir followed up a quiet Ivy League opener by producing two big games on the first full Ivy weekend.
   But don’t confuse Micir for the player she was last year.
   The Princeton University junior is quicker, better focused and tougher at the defensive end and more capable of creating her own shot at the offensive end, all of which has helped the Tiger women’s basketball team go 15-2 overall, even if she hasn’t stood out as the main reason. Most credit the influx of a highly touted freshman class led by Lauren Polansky and Niveen Rasheed while sophomore Devona Allgood has improved in her second year of starting.
   ”Addie has been overshadowed because of excitement of Devona and Niveen,” said Tigers head coach Courtney Banghart. “She’s like the grandma. The fact she’s been there before and has been battle-tested, that’s pretty important to us.”
   Micir, a second-team All-Ivy selection a year ago, showed why as she helped carry the Tigers to 3-0 in Ivy play with wins over Brown, 75-44, on Friday and Yale, 69-48, on Saturday. On Friday, the Bears focused on Rasheed, who was held scoreless for the first time this season, but Micir scored a game-high 18 points in an efficient 21 minutes. Saturday against Yale, the Tigers pulled away stretched and eight-point lead to 27 even after losing Polansky to an ankle injury. Micir provided a game-high 16 points.
   ”The upperclassmen tried to prepare the underclassmen as much as we could,” Micir said. “We have two freshmen starting. We tried to get everyone focused to show that this will be like the way it is the next couple weeks. We were able to beat a good team (Saturday).”
   It sets the Tigers up for a pair of tougher tests on the second Ivy weekend. Preseason league favorites Harvard and Dartmouth come to Jadwin Gym, the Crimson for a 7 p.m. tip-off Friday and defending league champion Dartmouth 6 p.m. Saturday. Princeton is the lone unbeaten in the Ivies. Dartmouth beat Harvard in their earlier meeting, but Columbia knocked off the Big Green, 72-59.
   ”You look at the teams that Harvard played this year, and they beat some good teams,” Micir said. “Then Dartmouth came in and beat them first game. Knowing those two are expected to win the league, we’re excited to see what we can do. We lost close games last year. We’re looking to get out and make a statement.”
   Micir believes that statement will have to start at the defensive end against Harvard, as it has all year for the Tigers. The PU offense will be challenged by a Dartmouth team that is one of the stingiest in the nation defense.
   Micir has been through four previous meetings with the perennial contenders, and hasn’t seen a win yet. She is hoping that this is the year that the Tigers change the trend. She has improved her three-point percentage, free throw percentage and scoring all to career bests one year after her shooting dipped as a sophomore.
   ”The league, it has a lot of smart girls,” Micir said. “They know the scout and know you’re tendencies. They make you do what you don’t want to do. Freshman year, no one knows your tendencies. You learn what you have to work on after sophomore year.”
   Micir worked on her quickness, and she worked on making herself harder to guard.
   ”Addie has put a lot of time in so she can score in a variety of ways, not just as a jump shooter,” Banghart said. “She’s grown as a leader. She’s just arriving now.
   ”She used to be a set player. She can still bury the shot and she can create her own. When all you are is a shooter, you rely on teammates to set you up.”
   The nice thing for Micir is she has confidence that if she does have an off night, someone else will increase their own scoring. It was one of the brightest developments from the weekend in which Rasheed and Polansky, whose return from injury is uncertain, didn’t produce as much as usual.
   ”What’s nice this year is we have so many scorers,” Micir said. “One gets shut down, and four or five other players pick it up. The freshmen are doing well and sophomores are too. It’s all you can ask for.”
   A 19-day layoff for exams only served to make the Tigers hungrier when they returned to the court against Brown.
   ”We’ve been practicing so hard against each other,” Micir said. “We were so excited to play against someone with another color jersey on. We played so hard, it definitely showed.”
   They won’t rest on one good weekend either. It’s not the character that Micir sees in her teammates.
   ”Everyone just likes to play,” she said. “Everyone likes to get better. We like being around each other. Everyone likes watching film. We watch film all the time. We like being in the gym. Everyone wants to keep getting better. That keeps us going with how well the season is going.”
   It’s going better than she ever expected from such a young group. The inexperienced contributors have taken their cues from the likes of Micir, and she’s a good one to follow heading into this weekend. Last year, she put up a career-high 24 points against Harvard. And she was there when the Tigers took Dartmouth into overtime before falling. Princeton hopes its influx of freshman talent and improved veterans like Addie Micir can push it over the hump.
   ”In order to be the best, you have to beat the best,” Banghart said. “Harvard and Dartmouth have been winning. Having them back-to-back is an additional challenge, but it amazes me still how our team has responded to challenges all year long.”