For the second consecutive season Niveen Rasheed was voted the unanimous Ivy Player of the Year to headline the Princeton women's basketball team's postseason Ivy League honors. Lauren Polansky was named Defensive Player of the Year for the third-straight season and first-time honorees Megan Bowen and Kristen Helmstetter earned All-Ivy team accolades.
"Princeton basketball is a team game, comprised of individual effort and collective play," said head coach Courtney Banghart. "These Tigers are the ultimate competitors, team-first teammates, and they have always been completely committed to the success of the program in its many facets. Since day one, they were committed to the process of getting better, both in daily practices and in offseason development. The impact these players have had on our team, program, and league over the last three years has been unparalleled. We are so grateful to the Ivy League coaches for recognizing the contribution of these special players."
2012-13 marks the third straight year a Princeton player has been selected Ivy Player of the Year, a program first. Rasheed is only the second Tiger to receive the award, as Addie Micir '11 earned it first in 2011, and Princeton is the first team to earn three consecutive Player of the Year awards since Penn from 1999-2001. Rasheed was also the unanimous 2010 Ivy Rookie of the Year, making her only the second player in Ivy history to earn three postseason awards unanimously.
The league's scoring leader, Rasheed was also named a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy selection. The guard averaged 16.9 points per game and currently sits at fourth all-time in Princeton history with 1,608 career points. In Ivy play, the senior ranked in the top-five in seven categories, including a conference-best 2.6 steals per game. A three-time conference first teamer, Rasheed has been recognized consistently on a national scope this year. Along with earning seven of her 14 career Ivy Player of the Week honors in 2012-13, she was named to four national watch lists: the Wooden Award Women's Preseason Top 30, 50-player Naismith Watch List, 33-player State Farm "Wade Watch" list and 20-player Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Midseason Watch List.
"Niveen is one of the most highly decorated players in Ivy League history, as the best player on the most successful four-year run in Ivy history. She is a first-class competitor, a teammate, and a star among stars," said Banghart.
Classmate Polansky maintains her stance as the top defender in the Ivy League, taking the honor home for an unprecedented third straight year. The point guard is only the second player to earn the award over its five-year history. 2012-13 proved to be a trying year for Polansky, who had to battle back from injury, saw limited action midyear and missed four games. The resilient co-captain finished with 44 steals, fourth in Ivy play and second for the Tigers, and at 5'7" she ranked 12th in the league in blocked shots with 13. Polansky was tied for third-best in rebounds for the Tigers with 3.9 per game.
"Lauren has been our heart and living proof that the little things, if done consistently well, become the big things," commented Banghart.
Rounding out Princeton's All-Ivy team were second team selections senior center Megan Bowen and junior forward Kristen Helmstetter. Bowen successfully took over starting center duties this year following the graduation of three-time All-Ivy Devona Allgood '12. Bowen averaged 8.9 points and 3.9 steals per game, both third-best for the Tigers, en route to surpassing the 500-point mark with 581. In Ivy play she averaged 10.8 points per game.
"Megan has been the most improved player we've had here, from seeing just 88 minutes in her freshmen year, to being one of the best at her position in the league in her senior season. Two words: hard work," added Banghart.
Helmstetter made the seamless transition into the starting lineup in place of Nicole Hung, who went down with a season-ending injury, and put together a breakout year starting 23 of 28 games played. She was Princeton's second-leading scorer and rebounder with 9.0 points and 4.9 boards per game, respectively and shot .496 from the field (92-for-196) for third-best in the Ivy League.
"Kristen has earned all-league in her first year as a starter. We ask that our players trust the process and get better all year-round so that when their time comes, they are ready. Kristen was ready and we are a much better team because of it," concluded Banghart.
The four-time consecutive outright Ivy champion Tigers are headed to their fourth-straight NCAA tournament. Princeton (22-6, 13-1 Ivy) will find out its first round location and opponent at the NCAA Selection Show on Monday, Mar. 18.
2012-13 All-Ivy Honors
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
*Niveen Rasheed, Princeton (Sr., G - Danville, Calif.)
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
*Temi Fagbenle, Harvard (So., F - London)
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Lauren Polansky, Princeton (Sr., G - Mill Valley, Calif.)
*Alyssa Baron, Penn (Jr., G - Miami)
Christine Clark, Harvard (Jr., G - Tucson, Ariz.)
Sarah Halejian, Yale (So., G - Wyckoff, N.J.)
Victoria Lippert, Harvard (Sr., F - San Diego)
*Niveen Rasheed, Princeton (Sr., G - Danville, Calif.)
Megan Bowen, Princeton (Sr., C - Bath, Pa.)
Lauren Clarke, Brown (Jr., G - Colts Neck, N.J.)
Allyson DiMagno, Cornell (Jr., F - Fairport, N.Y.)
Temi Fagbenle, Harvard (So., F - London)
Kristen Helmstetter, Princeton (Jr., F - Bridgewater, N.J.)
Sheila Dixon, Brown (Sr., G - Schenectady, N.Y.)
Janna Graf, Yale (Jr., F - Mission Woods, Kan.)
Keiera Ray, Penn (Fr., G - Aurora, Ill.)
Megan Vasquez, Yale (Sr., G - Merrick, N.Y.)
Nicola Zimmer, Dartmouth (Jr., G - Chevy Chase, Md.)