The Yale women's basketball team (11-7, 3-1 Ivy League) travels to Penn and Princeton with two milestones within reach this weekend. Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball, is two wins away from her 500th career coaching victory, while junior guard Megan Vasquez, Yale's leading scorer in each of her three seasons, is just 47 points away from becoming the 17th player in Yale's history to reach 1,000 career points. The Bulldogs are riding high after a road sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth. Another weekend sweep would move Yale into first place in the Ivy League standings.
On The Road To 500
Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht currently holds a 498-423 career coaching record following last weekend's sweep at Harvard and Dartmouth. She needs just two wins to reach 500 career coaching victories, which could come as soon as this weekend at Princeton. She currently ranks 22nd among active coaches for Division I coaching wins. At the start of the season, six coaches were on the verge of their 500th career win. Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons became the first of the six to reach 500 wins on Dec. 3. DePaul head coach Doug Bruno (12/31) and Kennesaw State head coach Colby Tilly (1/7) have also joined the 500-win club this season. Here is the list of those coaches, with their win totals updated through games played on Feb. 2:
Coach School Wins
Milestone Watch for Vasquez
Junior guard Megan Vasquez has now scored 953 career points. She needs just 47 points to reach 1,000 career points. She has now had six 20-point outings this season, reaching a season-high 23 points three times. She scored 20 or more points five times previously in her career, all coming last season. Vasquez scored 322 points in her freshman season and 366 points last season. If she approaches her season-high in both games this weekend, she could reach the 1,000-point milestone at Princeton. In doing so, Vasquez will become the 17th player in Yale's history to reach 1,000 career points. The last Bulldog to reach the milestone was Melissa Colborne, who closed out her career with 1,418 points, fifth on Yale's all-time scoring list. If Vasquez continues to maintain her 344-point-per season pace, she would finish in sixth place on Yale's all-time list with 1,376 career points.
Penn appeared to be the team to beat in the Ivy League at the start of the season. The Quakers opened the season with seven wins in their first nine games and registered their best 10-game start (7-3) in the program's 42-year history. The Quakers also won seven games before the month of January for the first time in their history. However, since the New Year, Penn is just 1-6, and most of that can be tied to the injury to senior forward Jess Knapp. Knapp, who had started all but four games in her Penn career, suffered two torn ligaments in her left knee in the Quakers' game at San Diego State on Dec. 30. Despite the injury, which should have ended her season, Knapp returned to the lineup last weekend and is expected to play against Yale this weekend. The Bulldogs will get a stiff test on Friday. Yale is leading the Ivy League in 3-pointers made per game (6.5) and 3-point shooting percentage (31.5, 117-for-372), but Penn is sixth in the entire nation in 3-point shooting defense, allowing opponents to shoot 24.4 percent (58-for-238) so far this season.
In a series that dates back to 1974-75, the two teams have met 68 times prior to this season. The series was deadlocked at 33 wins each before Yale swept Penn last season. Yale has swept the season series in each of the last two seasons. The Bulldogs have won five straight meetings and six out of the last seven. Penn's last victory over Yale came on Feb. 14, 2009, a 62-46 decision in Philadelphia. Yale is also 7-5 during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as Yale's head coach.
Megan Vasquez scored 16 points to help lead Yale to a 53-44 win over Penn in the opening game of the series in New Haven on Jan. 28, 2011. Yale built an eight-point lead, but Alyssa Baron responded with four straight points to pull Penn within 40-36 with 7:27 remaining. That was as close as the Quakers would get. Mady Gobrecht tallied 11 points and eight rebounds for Yale. Baron led Penn with 16 points. Vasquez and Gobrecht were at it again in the rematch in Philadelphia. The pair scored 26 of Yale's first 29 points of the second half to propel Yale to a 66-53 win over Penn on Feb. 19, 2011. Vasquez scored 21 points and Gobrecht had 20 points to lead the Bulldogs. Yale opened up a 27-point lead, 60-33, with 5:59 left in the game. Penn outscored Yale 20-6 over the final 5:59, but could not complete the comeback. Yale held Baron to just nine points.
Penn has been near the top of the Ivy League in most defensive categories since Mike McLaughlin took over as head coach two seasons ago. This season, the Quakers rank second in the Ivy League in scoring defense at 56.2 points per game (behind only Princeton), and they lead the Ivy League in field goal percentage defense (37.0 percent) and three-point percentage defense (24.4 percent). The Quakers rank sixth in the nation in three-point defense. Opponents are just 58-for-238 from behind the arc against the Quakers this year. And only Hampton (50) and South Carolina (36) have given up fewer than the 58 made threes Penn has allowed. At the Surf 'N Slam Classic, Penn's two opponents combined to go 1-for-17 (5.9 percent) from beyond the arc.
Penn freshman forward Kara Bonenberger has proven to be a key addition for the Quakers this season. She has averaged 8.6 points and a team-leading 5.8 rebounds per game. She is 10th among Ivy League leaders in rebounding and is the Ivy League's leader in shooting percentage (46.7 percent, 57-for-122). She is also sixth in offensive rebounds and 12th in defensive rebounds. She was the leading rookie with four Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards until Yale's Sarah Halejian won her fifth award this week. She recorded her first of two double-doubles this season with 11 rebounds and a career-best 27 points in the win over Drexel on Dec. 22.
Princeton, the two-time defending Ivy League champion, won the first six games of its season before losing four of the next five games. Three of those losses came at the hands of nationally ranked opponents, including Delaware (currently ranked No. 12), No. 4 Stanford, and DePaul, which was No. 21 at the time of that game. The Tigers also lost at Navy. However, Princeton heads into this weekend's home games against Brown and Yale riding a six-game winning streak. The Tigers have been nearly unbeatable in Ivy League play since the 2009-10 season. They are 30-1 since, losing only once to Harvard last season. That record includes a 3-0 start this season, with convincing wins over Penn, Cornell and Columbia by an average winning margin of 41.0 points. This weekend represents the first time Princeton has been on the court for a game in three weeks because of final exams. Princeton is ranked No. 5 in the current Collegeinsider.com Top-25 Mid-Major Poll.
In a series that dates back to Yale's first season as a varsity program in 1973-74, the two teams have met 75 times prior to Saturday, with Princeton playing Yale more times than any other opponent. The Tigers lead the series 45-30, and they have won the last five meetings, with their last loss to the Bulldogs coming in a 56-54 decision in New Haven on Feb. 13, 2009. The Bulldogs are 3-9 against the Tigers during Chris Gobrecht's tenure as head coach at Yale.
Princeton swept the season series from Yale last season. On Jan. 29, 2011, Addie Micir scored 18 points and Lauren Edwards added 17 points to pace Princeton to a 52-37 win over Yale. Yale led at halftime, 22-20, but Princeton used a 15-1 second-half run to break the game open and secure the win. Mady Gobrecht scored 13 points in the first half to lead the Bulldogs in the loss. With first place in the Ivy League on the line in the rematch at Princeton on Feb. 18, 2011, the Tigers left little doubt that they would repeat as Ivy League champions in a 73-57 win over the Bulldogs. The Tigers had five scorers in double figures. Megan Bowen came off the bench to lead the Tigers with 15 points. Devona Allgood scored 14 points, while Edwards added 12 points. Gobrecht scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Bulldogs. Megan Vasquez added 12 points.
Brightest Star Shines Again
Princeton junior forward Niveen Rasheed, the Ivy League's Rookie of the Year in 2009-10, returned to the lineup this season after missing the final 17 games of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. She was the Ivy League's leading scorer (16.4 ppg.) at the time of the injury. And so far this season, it appears as if the injury hasn't slowed Rasheed down. She is currently leading the Ivy League in scoring, with 16.9 points per game, and rebounding, with 9.1 rebounds per game. She is also fifth in the league in assists (3.1 apg.). In fact, she is in the top five among the Ivy League leaders in eight separate categories. With 931 points scored in her career, she is on pace to reach the 1,000-career-points milestone, joining teammates Devona Allgood and Lauren Edwards, who have reached that milestone this season.
In three Ivy League games, Princeton outscored its opponents (Penn, Cornell, Columbia) 241-118, an average winning margin of 41.0 points per game. Heading into the weekend, the Tigers are the only unbeaten team in the Ivy League, and it is easy to see how they have been so dominant. Princeton is ranked among the top 50 teams in the nation in Rebounding Margin (12th, +9.4 rpg.), Scoring Margin (28th, +13.8 ppg.), Win-Loss Percentage (35th, 76.5 percent), Steals Per Game (44th, 10.8 spg.) and Scoring Defense (45th, 55.8 points allowed per game).
"Inside Ivy League Basketball"
Junior guard Megan Vasquez was the latest Bulldog to appear on the Ivy League's on-demand radio show. In this week's episode, she talked about Yale's pursuit of the Ivy League championship, as well as her individual success in her first three seasons in a Yale uniform. "Inside Ivy League Basketball" has already featured an interview with Yale coach Chris Gobrecht. That episode can still be found on the show's website. To hear the interview, visit blogtalkradio.com/insideivyleaguebasketball.
Breaking Out the Broom
For the second straight season, Yale pulled off a weekend sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth on the road. The Bulldogs began the weekend with a come-from-behind win at Harvard. Trailing 29-24 at halftime, Yale used a 12-0 run to start the second half to seize control. Janna Graf led the Bulldogs with 16 points and eight rebounds. Megan Vasquez scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half to lead the late charge. Yale had to pull off another second-half rally to complete the sweep. Trailing 43-41 at halftime at Dartmouth, Yale stormed out of the break with a dominating 26-1 run that led to an 89-65 win over the Big Green. Vasquez scored a game-high 23 points to match her season-high and lead the Bulldogs. Graf scored 19 points, while Aarica West poured in a career-high 12 points. Yale's defense held Dartmouth to just a single free throw through the first 9:31 of the second half.
Sweeping the Awards
Thanks to its road sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth, Yale also earned a sweep of the Ivy League's weekly awards. Yale's sophomore guard Janna Graf was named the Ivy League Player of the Week and freshman guard Sarah Halejian was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week. Junior guard Megan Vasquez earned a place on the Ivy League's weekly Honor Roll. Graf, a guard who has played out of her natural wing position all season to handle the power forward duties, averaged 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.0 assist in the two wins. It is the first time this season and second time in her career that Graf has earned the Ivy League's Player of the Week honor. For Halejian, she wins her fourth straight Rookie of the Week honor, becoming the first player since Princeton's Niveen Rasheed accomplished the feat from Nov. 16-Dec. 7, 2009. Halejian has won the Rookie of the Week award five times so far this season, which leaves her one shy of Yale's record of six Rookie of the Week awards held by Katy Grubbs (1995-96) and Melissa Colborne (2006-07). Both former Bulldogs went on to win the Ivy League's Rookie of the Year that season.
Introducing the Class of 2016
Four players will join the Bulldogs' roster as incoming freshman for the 2012-13 season. On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Bulldogs announced the additions of guards Whitney Wyckoff and Nyasha Sarju, forward Meredith Boardman, and center Elizabeth "Emmy" Allen, who will all join the Bulldogs' roster as freshmen this fall. Allen is a 6-foot-3 center from Overland Park, Kan., who is rated as the 27th top post player in the country by ESPN. Boardman, a 6-foot-1 forward from Oak Park, Ill., who was listed among the Chicago area's top 50 players by both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. Sarju, a 6-foot-tall shooting guard from Seattle, Wash., who was listed as the 56th best wing player in the country by ESPN. Wyckoff, a 5-foot-9 guard from West Chester, Ohio, was averaging 12.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 steals, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks per game through the first four games of the season at Lakota East high School before suffering a season-ending knee injury. She is expected to return to the court before her arrival at Yale. She was listed as the 77th-ranked off-guard in the country by the College Girls Basketball Report. Wyckoff's sister, Brooke, played nine seasons in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun, Chicago Sky and Orlando Miracle and is currently an assistant coach at Florida State.
Yale Athletics Pink Zones
Yale's game against Columbia on Saturday, Feb. 11 is the main event of Yale's two-day event that is now called "Yale Athletics Pink Zones." The annual fund-raiser, in conjunction with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's "Play 4Kay" initiative, is dedicated to raising awareness and donations for breast cancer research, with Yale's proceeds once again being donated to the Smilow Cancer Hospital. Last year, Yale hosted the most successful Pink Zone weekend since Yale started participating five years ago. The festivities, which will take place throughout Payne Whitney Gymnasium, will once again include a "Battle of the Badges" competition featuring the Yale and New Haven police and fire departments. The Yale gymnastics team will host the Bulldog Invitational, while the women's and men's squash teams will compete against Ivy League rival Harvard on Sunday, Feb. 12. Check YaleBulldogs.com for the full schedule.
Yale on YES
The YES Network, the broadcast home of the 27-time World Series Champion New York Yankees, will feature Yale's men's and women's basketball teams in a two-game, winter television package. The Yale women's basketball team tips off the Yale on YES package with its Ivy League contest against Dartmouth at the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Friday, Feb. 17. The Yale men's basketball team will close out the package with its home game against Columbia on Friday, Feb, 24. Both games will air live on YES beginning at 7 p.m.
A Great Ivy Start
Four players scored in double figures to lead Yale to a 75-65 win over Brown in the Ivy League opener for both teams in Providence on Jan. 13. Megan Vasquez scored 23 points to lead the Bulldogs. Sarah Halejian added 18 points. Amanda Tyson came off the bench to record 10 of her 12 points and seven of her eight rebounds in the second half to spark a late rally that lifted Yale to the win. The 12 points, eight rebounds and seven offensive rebounds are all new career-high marks for Tyson. Brown outscored Yale 21-9 over the final 11:21 of the first half to go into the locker room with a 32-31 halftime lead. It was the sixth time this season that Yale had trailed at halftime, but it was only the first time that Yale had won a game when trailing at the half. The Bulldogs used a 10-4 run to open up a 68-61 lead with 1:16 left that secured Yale's first win of the Ivy League season.
The Quest for Ivy Glory
The quest for the Ivy League championship is now under way. As the only Division I conference without a postseason tournament, the League's 14-game conference slate becomes the "tournament" to determine which Ivy team wins the title and earns an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. The team that finishes the season in second place earns the Ivy League's automatic bid to the Women's National Invitational Tournament. Yale earned its first-ever WNIT bid last season after finishing a program-best 10-4 in league play. The Bulldogs begin Ivy League play at Brown on Friday. Princeton is the two-time defending Ivy League champion. Yale is pursuing its first Ivy League championship since the 1978-79 season, when the league champion was determined in a mid-season tournament.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity