Princeton's Rasheed Sidelined For Season
By Mel Greenberg
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Defendng Ivy League champion Princeton has taken a major hit with the torn ACL in jury on the right knee of Niveen Rasheen, a sophomore 6-0 gorward who is the Tigers' top player.
The school has yet to officially denote the injury, citing several laws regarding students' rights, but several people familiar with the injury that occurred a week ago Tuesday during the Davidson game in North Carolina indicated it was the one that has been a major blot on women's basketball through the years.
"We're looking at rehab and trying to get her back as fast as time will allow," Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said after the Tigers blasted La Salle 94-51 Tuesday night at Jadwin Gym in the final nonconference tuneup for both teams.
The Explorers (4-9), playing with a limited roster because of injuries and some transfers in the offseason, will open Atlantic 10 play Saturday afternoon while Princeton (10-3) will open Ivy play at home that night against Penn (5-5).
Senior Addie Micir scored 17 points for Princeton, including the 100th of her career. Devona Allgood had 15 points, Laura Johnson scored 12 and Nicole Hung had 10.
The Tigers were on target from the field, hitting 12-of-23 three point attempts and 35-for-64 field goal attempts overall for a 54.7 percent success rate.
La Salle's Ashley Gale had 23 points, while Ebonee Jones had 13 and Jess Koci scored 12.
"They're pretty strong and we just didn't show up," first-year coach Jeff Williams said of the Explorers' play which included a paltry 28.6 percent effort from the field. "We wasted their time tonight. They could have had a better workout at practice against themselves.
"We just have to go back to the drawing board and keep working but they're a pretty good team. Without a doubt an NCAA team that will probably win their conference again and win 24-25 games."
The numbers may have looked gaudy without Rasheed against La Salle, but one doesn't have to be UConn coach Geno Auriemma to demand perfection. Banghart was not entirely pleased with the performance.
"We have our own standards to live up to," Banghart said. "I thought that effort wasn't near anywhere good enough. I thought we changed the lineup a lot. But we go play Wake Forest. We go play Pac-10 schools. We go play Big East schools and we really battle.
"Then we play against a team where people haven't heard of the team, except Addie in this one, and the play is minimal at best. So we're disappointed."
Princeton will have plenty of time to hone things after Saturday with a 20-day break in the schedule, which has nothing but Ivy opposition the rest of the way.
"Twenty days of nothing is difficult and not only that we have four straight on the road, which is hard in our league because the kids have an incredible course load and the back-to-back, with Niveen hurt, our lineup is thiner to cope with the Friday-Saturday play. Back-to-back games are really tough on our bodies so we'll have to take it one game at a time and hope they're better than this one."
Niveen, who was averaging 16.4 points per game, suffered the injury last week during Princeton's 67-61 win at Davidson. The Tigers (10-3), arguably the best Ivy team of all-time, especially in terms of success in out-of-conference play, were able to win at Wake Forest 71-63 on New Year's Eve two days after the injury occurred.
"It's ok, it;'s part of the game," Banghart said of the loss of Niveen without discussing the injury specifically before the La Salle game.
"We'll be all right," Banghart added. "We'll just be a little different."
Princeton has wins over Southern Cal and Delaware, both on the road, and narrow losses at Rutgers, St. Joseph's in overtime, and at Vanderbilt.
In a game here several weeks ago, Rasheed got into foul trouble against Drexel and was disqualified with 12 minutes left in a close game at the time. However, Princeton actually got stronger after Rasheed went to the sidelines and won the contest 64-52.
Rasheed was dressed in uniform during the Tigers' pre-game warmup and chatted amiably with fans while hobbling on crutches.
This is the second time the Explorers have encountered an injured top star on the opposition.
Early last month Delaware sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne took herself out of the game at the Explorers' Tom Gola Arena, though Delaware went on to win.
Afterwards, Blue Hens coach Tina Martin said Delle Donne had been extremely fatigued. She missed the Princeton game, then returned against Navy and Penn State. But she was oin the sidelines again for the home game with St. Joseph's and it has since been determined she has a nerve problem in her back and was due to get an evaluation this week as doctors consider how to treat her.
ACL injuries have been the curse of women's basketball. During last summer Germantown Academy graduate Caroline Doty suffered her third ACL and second since her freshman season at two-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut.
Doty is out for this season and her absence undoubtedly factored into UConn's loss at Stanford last week that ended the Huskies' record NCAA Division I winning streak at 90 games.
Rasheed's injury occurred early in the second half at Davidson.
During a spectacular freshman season she was named the Ivy League rookie of the year and was also named to the all-Ivy first team and, obviously, all-rookie team.
Noteworthy: A day after being named Big Five player of the week, St. Joseph's Katie Kuester earned Co-Atlantic 10 player of the week honors.
Philadelphia University coach Tom Shirley is two wins from 600 and if he gets 599 Thursday night the Guru will bail out of the Villanova-Rutgers game and head up to North Jersey where the Rams will try to get the number for him at Felician.
The Guru, having a bad flashback, seems to recall the technological nightmares experienced when Shirley got his 500th at the same school on the road.