The North Carolina Tar Heels women’s basketball program is going through a transition in terms of leadership after a nationally covered scandal forced change. Hall of Fame head coach Sylvia Hatchell stepped down last week after UNC completed an investigation into her improper actions.
The university looked into allegations of Hatchell making racially insensitive remarks to players and forcing players play despite injuries.
The change begins with the hiring of Courtney Banghart as the new head coach. The former Dartmouth guard led Princeton to seven Ivy League championships and seven NCAA Tournament appearances in her tenure with the school. As head coach of the Princeton Tigers, Banghart was 254-103.
“We were looking for the absolute best head coach we could find,” UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham stated. “Courtney Banghart rose to the top and we’re delighted she’s part of Carolina.”
Although Banghart will be inheriting a program that has experienced some rough patches, she still must get acclimated to the program without some players. Junior Destinee Walker announced that she would graduate and transfer. Not to mention redshirt junior Stephanie Watts, redshirt sophomore Jocelyn Jones and freshman Kennedy Boyd have all placed their names in the transfer portal.
Along with all of that that, top scorer Paris Kea is moving on to the WNBA.
Transitions are never easy. Unfortunately, this transition is coming during the change of coaches amid scandal.
Courtney Banghart must implement a new culture in the program. North Carolina is one of the top schools, historically, in women’s basketball. One of the items on the agenda will be recruiting. Given everything that just happened, convincing talented players UNC is now a safe place for the nation’s best talents won’t be easy.
Regardless, Banghart sees an advantage that comes with recruiting for the Tar Heels.
“It’s a place that can attract the very best players in the country,” Banghart stated to Aaron Beard of the Associated Press. “Bubba and his staff have hired me to do that. I look forward to literally changing someone’s life with an opportunity at Carolina.”
On the bright side of all this change, this could be a good look for the Tar Heels. Bringing in some new life will help to invigorate a once talented program. Since 2015, UNC was 62-65 under Sylvia Hatchell and had only one NCAA Tournament appearance. It is possible that Banghart can repeat the success she had while coaching Princeton.
To repeat her time at Princeton, Banghart will have to navigate North Carolina through the ACC. Over the past few seasons, the Atlantic Coast Conference has seen vast improvements from programs such as Notre Dame, NC State, Louisville and Syracuse.
Due to this, it will be a difficult task for any program going through a transition — nevertheless one in the position UNC put itself in.
Fortunately, Banghart can possibly be the coach who injects positive vibes back into North Carolina — on, and off, the floor — so that legendary school success emerges once again. She was able to turn Princeton around once she arrived.
Why not with the Tar Heels, especially given more resources?
Before Banghart, Princeton was 74-91 under then head coach Richard Barron. Since arriving to the Ivy League school, she immediately started seeing the dividends in the work she put in. Notably, the Tigers had never been to the NCAA Tournament before Banghart arrived. As mentioned earlier, she then helped the school earn seven pairs of slippers.
Now, the former Ivy League and Naismith Coach of the Year will be tasked with duplicating those same triumphs. No pressure or anything.
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