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Vol. LXV, No. 47
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
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(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

LP RECORD: Princeton University women’s basketball point guard Lauren Polansky heads up the court in recent action. The junior star, known as “LP” by her teammates, has been a key factor in Princeton’s 4-0 start. Last Friday, the 5’8 Polansky chipped in five assists and six rebounds in a 56-41 win over Villanova. On Monday, she hit for a career-high 12 points as the Tigers topped Marist 68-51.

Polansky Adding Value Not Shown in Box Score; Helping Princeton Women’s Hoops to 4-0 Start

Bill Alden

If one just looks at the point column in the box score from the Princeton University women’s basketball team’s win over Villanova last Saturday, it doesn’t look like Tiger junior Lauren Polansky contributed much to the victory.

The point guard missed both shots she took from the floor and was 2-for-4 from the foul line for a total of two points in 38 minutes of action in Princeton’s 56-41 win.

But a deeper analysis of the score sheet would show that Polansky chipped in five assists and six rebounds without making a turnover.

What isn’t reflected on paper is how the gritty 5’8 Polansky helped trigger a stifling defensive performance that saw Princeton hold the previously undefeated Wildcats 29 points under their season average of 70 a game.

Afterward, Polansky grinned broadly as she assessed the team’s overall defensive performance.

“They are great scoring threats, all five of their players on the floor can score so that is tough,” said Polansky, reflecting on an evening which saw Villanova make just 29.1 percent (16-of-55) of its field goal attempts.

“We knew we had to defend the arc and that is what we did. We forced them to try to drive to the basket and everyone just manned up and played great 1-on-1 defense.”

Polansky’s role in that effort centered on harassing her Villanova backcourt counterparts from baseline to baseline.

“It was great to push it and get up on them full court and try to get my teammates a little bit of rest,” said Polansky, a native of Mill Valley Calif. and the 2010-11 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.

“It was an up-and-down game the entire time. We were able to scramble; everyone was able to help everyone else out with those traps.”

The Tigers had to scramble more on offense after hitting just 8-of-28 shots in the first half.

“We had a little bit of a rough half, we came out a little slow,” said Polansky.

“In the second half, it all came together. Devona (Allgood) played incredibly; she went 8-for-10 which was great after a couple of hard weeks for her. It was incredible. There were moments where there was great basketball and we were all working together.”

In the wake of the graduation of Tiger floor leader and Ivy Player of the Year Addie Micir, Polansky knows she has to take a bigger hand in holding things together for the Tigers.

“Addie was an incredible team leader and team player; we all looked to her in tough situations,” said Polansky, who showed another facet of her leadership last Monday by scoring a career-high 12 points to help Princeton defeat Marist 68-51.

“So this year I am taking a more more vocal role on the court that I need to play. We are definitely missing her but people are stepping up.”

Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart likes the way Polansky is stepping up.

“LP is such an important part of what we are doing; she changes the game with how she defends,” said Banghart, whose team improved to 4-0 the win over Marist. “She is physical, she is tough. She and Niveen [Rasheed] came from the same AAU program. All they want to do is win.”

While Banghart was happy with her team’s defensive effort in the first half, she wanted to see better execution on the offensive end after intermission.

“Our kids really dialed in defensively,” said Banghart. “We were horrendous in the first half offensively but that didn’t affect our defensive effort which shows a lot of discipline. I told them this is not who we are. We are not a finesse team, we are an aggressive, athletic team that has a lot of pep. I said ‘you guys defend like that and then you go and be soft on offense,’ that is not who we are.”

In the second half, senior co-captain and center Allgood carried the offensive load for the Tigers, scoring Princeton’s first nine points on the way to an 18-point performance.

“I thought the guards gave her good looks; I thought she was open in the first half and she wasn’t getting as many touches as we wanted,” said Banghart.

“Devona has had a tough two weeks. She has been out of rhythm; she hasn’t been able to make shots. But she is a senior captain who goes for 18 against a Big East team. That’s what we are about, we need all of them.”

In Banghart’s view, the win over Villanova is a good sign as her team looks to make a bigger impact on the national scene.

“Playing close isn’t enough, you have to get some wins,” asserted Banghart, whose team hosts Davidson on November 25 before playing at Rider on November 27.

“I hope we are a much different team in February than we are now. If we keep getting better, we are going to be pretty darn good. So I hope this is momentum but it is just one piece of a very big puzzle.”

Polansky, for her part, likes the way things are fitting together for the Tigers.

“Everyone was talking about what a great team Villanova is, which they definitely are,” said Polansky.

“I think it was great for us to come out and play hard, play together, and get a win like this. It is great to play teams like Villanova, Marist, and Stanford and all these teams that we are scheduling. The challenges keep coming and we keep battling.”

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