Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 51
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010
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KRYSTAL CLEAR: Princeton University women’s basketball player Krystal Hill flies to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Senior guard and co-captain Hill has provided a spark for the Tigers as they have produced an 8-3 start. Princeton is currently on a holiday break and will be back in action when it plays at Davidson on December 29.

Senior Hill Providing Leadership Off the Bench as PU Women’s Hoops Builds for Title Defense

Bill Alden

As the Princeton University women’s basketball team has risen to the top of the Ivy League, star power has driven its ascent.

Players like Addie Micir, Lauren Edwards, Devona Allgood, and Niveen Rasheed have emerged as top players, with each garnering All-Ivy honors last winter as the Tigers went 26-3 overall and 14-0 in league play.

With Princeton hungry for a title encore this season, senior guard Krystal Hill knows that she isn’t destined for stardom and that’s alright with her.

The 5’7 guard from Houston, Texas has played in 94 games for the Tigers, starting one way back in her freshman season and coming off the bench in her 93 other appearances.

“I embrace the reserve role; you need role players on a team,” said Hill, who has averaged about 12 minutes a game through her Princeton career.

“You need people to fill certain positions. I think it is important for people that come off the bench; they provide a different dynamic and a different perspective to the game.”

Despite being a reserve, Hill is filling a leadership role this winter as a team co-captain along with classmate Micir.

“It was a great honor, I am filling some big shoes,” said Hill, recalling her thoughts upon learning that she had been chosen to serve as a captain.

“Our captains last year [Cheryl Stevens and Tani Brown] were amazing; they kept us going. They kept us mentally ready and mentally prepared to go, even for practice. When things weren’t going our way, they were able to step in there and give some words of encouragement. Just off of that, I know that being a captain is a great responsibility. It is extremely important for the team.”

While Hill acknowledges that she does not possess a take-charge personality, she is ready to encourage her teammates in a more low-key manner.

“I am definitely one of the more quiet people on the team; I try to talk people more one-to-one,” said Hill.

“In practice I have been trying to talk more and be more vocal in terms of drills and stuff like that but the biggest thing for me is the one-on-one. I talk to you and ask how are you doing, how are you feeling, keep going, we need you, that type of stuff. I just try to mix it up.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart will tell you that Hill’s work ethic speaks loud and clear to her teammates.

“There is not a kid who has worked harder in her four years than Krystal,” said Banghart, whose team had a hard day last Sunday as it fell 70-61 at St. Joseph’s in double overtime to drop to 8-3 and see its five-game winning streak come to an end in its last action before the holiday break.

“She has to start from the ground up with her footwork and understanding the system. The fact that she can both understand our system and use the footwork she has learned to be a threat shows that no matter how good you were when you came in, you have just got to keep working.”

In Hill’s view, combining her athleticism with some hard-earned savvy will make her even more threatening off the bench.

“I try to provide energy and speed while working within the offense,” said Hill, who now has 482 points, 181 rebounds, 105 assists, and 74 steals in her career.

“I just try to pick up the tempo a little bit. I hope I can knock down some 3s, way more than last year. I am working on being more comfortable with taking the shot and that comes with practice too. Being able to say I am going to catch and shoot it, mentally this is what I need to do.”

Hill grins broadly when she reflects on last year. “The whole season was amazing but being able to go 14-0 in Ivy play was one of the biggest things I have ever been part of,” said Hill, who contributed 141 points, 36 assists, 62 rebounds, and 24 steals in the championship campaign.

“Beating Harvard and Dartmouth on the road, I will remember that feeling. I will remember cutting down the net against Penn when we got the Ivy League trophy. It was one great moment after the other. It was a lot of memories to take with me not just this year but for the rest of my life. I really had a great time.”

With the Tigers off to a strong start and Ivy play starting on January 8 when Princeton hosts Penn, Hill is hoping this winter will produce some more indelible memories.

“We are definitely looking to win the Ivy League championship; we are definitely looking to get back to the tournament,” said Hill, who is averaging 3.5 points a game this season and will look to be a factor when Princeton returns from the break by playing at Davidson on December 29.

“We also realize that our schedule is a lot tougher. We go into these games expecting to win and if you do lose one, you have to regroup and get back in it. In the long run, we are looking to get back to the tournament but we take each game seriously. If great things happen this year, it is the product of all of us working hard.”

And while Princeton’s stars will garner plenty of attention if the team successfully defends its title, no Tiger will have worked harder than Hill to make it possible.

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