Game Day Central: Yale Welcomes New Hampshire for Home Opener

Janna Graf. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Janna Graf. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Game #2

Yale Bulldogs (0-1, 0-0 Ivy League) vs. New Hampshire Wildcats (0-0, 0-0 America East)


Opening Tip

The Yale women's basketball team welcomes America East Conference opponent New Hampshire to John J. Lee Amphitheater in the home-opening game of its historic 40th season. The Bulldogs are looking for their first win of the season following a disappointing 87-71 opening loss at Holy Cross on Nov. 9. Wednesday's game is the first game of the season for New Hampshire, which is facing Yale for the first time since Nov. 29, 2008, a game the Bulldogs won, 76-55.



Scouting New Hampshire

The Wildcats finished the 2011-12 season with a 16-14 overall record and a 9-7 mark in America East Conference play, which was good enough for fourth place. However, New Hampshire played its best basketball at the end of the season, winning four of its last five regular-season games to warrant an invite to the Women's Basketball Invitational postseason tournament, where it lost in the opening round to Holy Cross, Yale's opponent last week. The 16 wins last season marked a seven-win improvement from the previous season. The Wildcats return for the 2012-13 season, bringing back three of their top four scorers from last season and two of their top three rebounders. Joining New Hampshire this season will be three freshmen, while senior guard Lauren Wells will rejoin the starting lineup after missing all of last season due to injury. 


Series History

The 2012-13 matchup marks the 11th overall meeting between Yale and New Hampshire. Yale cruised to a 76-55 win over New Hampshire on Nov. 29, 2008, in the previous meeting between the two teams, which was the second game of a tournament at Long Island University. That also happened to be Yale's only win in the series, with New Hampshire taking the first nine meetings. However, UNH has not beaten Yale since Nov. 19, 2005, a 75-59 decision at John J. Lee Amphitheater that spoiled Chris Gobrecht's Yale coaching debut. Wednesday's game marks just the third meeting between the two teams during Gobrecht's tenure at Yale.


Common Schedules

New Hampshire's schedule contains six teams that will face the Bulldogs this season, and all six teams will meet the Wildcats over the next seven games. Following their game in New Haven, the Wildcats will travel to Holy Cross on Saturday. Following the Thanksgiving holiday, New Hampshire will then square off against a pair of Ivy League teams in Cornell at home (Nov. 25) and Harvard in Cambridge. The Wildcats will open the month of December with games against Quinnipiac and Brown in the Brown Classic, followed by a home game against cross-state rival Dartmouth.


Hogan at the Helm

Junior guard Kelsey Hogan was named the sole captain of the Wildcats for the 2012-13 season. Hogan served as co-captain last year and was also a captain in 2010, when she was a medical redshirt for the second consecutive year. Hogan started all 30 games in 2012 and led the team and the America East Conference in 3-point field goal percentage at 44.6 percent (41-for-92). She also led the Wildcats in assists, ranked second in both 3-point field goals game and minutes (33.9 per game) as well as third in scoring (10.2 ppg), field goals made and attempted, field goal percentage (.386) and free throws made and attempted.


Middle of the America East Pack

New Hampshire joined Vermont with 37 points, good enough for a fourth-place tie in the 2012-13 America East Preseason Coaches' Poll. The vote places New Hampshire behind first-place selection Albany (61 points; five first-place votes), Boston University (56; two) and Hartford (54; two) in the nine-team poll. Senior forward Morgan Frame was voted to the Preseason All-Conference Team after leading the Wildcats in scoring last season with 16.0 points per game and finishing in second on the team in rebounding last season with 7.5 rebounds per game.


Getting the Call

Prior to the start of the season, Mike Roux, the Wildcats' assistant coach the past two seasons, was promoted to associate head coach after serving as an assistant for New Hampshire head coach Maureen Magarity for the past two seasons. Magarity also made a pair of hires, bringing in Brendan Copes as an assistant coach on the Wildcats' staff and Kerry Cashman as the director of operations. Copes spent the previous four seasons as the head women's basketball coach at the United States Military Preparatory School. Cashman is a 2011 graduate of Boston University.



Celebrating History

The 2012-13 season marks the 40th season of women's basketball at Yale University. In 1972-73, women's basketball appeared on the Yale scene as a club sport and became a varsity sport the following year. The Bulldogs made an impressive Ivy debut, finishing second in the League in 1974-75. In 1976, Louise O'Neal was hired as the first full-time women's basketball coach and Yale won its first Ivy League championship in 1978-79. The Bulldogs have won 438 games since their debut. A total of nine men and women have coached women's basketball at Yale, and there have been 35 women who have been named captain in those 40 seasons. In its 40 seasons, the women's basketball team has seen one player win Ivy League Player of the Year award (Tonya Lawrence, 1988-89), four Ivy League Rookies of the Year (Sarah Halejian, 2011-12; Melissa Colborne, 2006-07; Katy Grubbs, 1995-96; Mary Kalich, 1991-92), 18 players on the All-Ivy League First Team, and 17 players score more than 1,000 career points. Throughout the season, Yale will be celebrating the program's historic achievement.


Heartbreaking Opener

Brisje Malone led all scorers with 23 points to propel Holy Cross to an 87-71 win over Yale in the season-opener for both teams. The Crusaders were playing without senior forward Amy Lepley, the team's leading scorer in 2011-12, who was out due to injury. What was a surmountable six-point halftime deficit turned to a 23-point blowout after Holy Cross took an 86-63 lead with 1:42 left. Despite the second-half collapse, there were a number of bright spots for the Bulldogs. Sophomore Sarah Halejian, last year's Ivy League Rookie of the Year, tallied 15 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Junior center Zenab Keita added 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Junior guard Janna Graf chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds.


Sarju Spectacular

Yale's best effort in its 87-71 opening loss at Holy Cross on Nov. 9 came from a surprising source. Freshman guard Nyasha Sarju may have been making her collegiate debut, but she showed a veteran presence on the court, leading the Bulldogs with 18 points on 7-for-17 shooting, 4-for-8 from 3-point range, in 27 minutes off the bench. She also tallied three rebounds, one assist and one steal, making her first game in a Yale uniform a memorable one.


Rookie Sensation

Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian made quite the first impression in her first season at Yale. Halejian became just the fourth Yale player to be named the Ivy League's Rookie of the Year, joining Melissa Colborne (2006-07), Katy Grubbs, (1995-96) and Mary Kalich (1991-92). Halejian played in all 28 games for the Bulldogs with 22 starts, including starts in the final 20 games of the season. She averaged 8.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game in her rookie season. Her best month of the season came in a seven-game stretch in January where she averaged 12.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists, earning four consecutive Rookie of the Week honors in the month. She ended the season with six Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards, tying the Yale record for the most Rookie of the Week awards in a season by a single player.


Welcome to Yale

Yale welcomes five new faces to the roster in 2012-13. Lauren Thomer replaces Allison Guth as an assistant coach and Yale's recruiting coordinator. Four players have also been added to the roster as freshman for the 2012-13 season. Guards Whitney Wyckoff and Nyasha Sarju, forward Meredith Boardman, and center Emmy Allen, are all expected to play a big part in the Bulldogs' plans this season. Allen, a 6-foot-3 center, was rated as the 27th top post player in the nation by ESPN last year. Boardman, a 6-foot-1 forward, was listed among the Chicago area's top 50 players by the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. Sarju, a 6-foot-tall shooting guard from Seattle, Wash., was listed as the 56th best wing player in the nation 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.


Tough Opponents on the Horizon

In the latest USA Today Top 25 Coaches' Poll, which was released on Tuesday, Nov. 13, three of Yale's 2012-13 opponents gained some recognition among the poll's voters. While none of the three made it into the Top 25, Georgetown (59 points), DePaul (13 points) and Marist (7 points) all received votes in the poll. The coaches who vote in the poll rank their Top 25, with first-place votes counting for 25 points and a 25th-place vote counting for one point.  


Starting Short-Handed

Yale enters the 2012-13 season with three players recovering from significant injuries. Sophomore guard Hayden Latham is expected to miss the entire season after tearing the ACL in her left knee during preseason workouts in September. Junior forward Alexandra Osborn-Jones and sophomore center Arrice Bryant are expected to miss the opening weeks of the season while recovering from their injuries. Osborn-Jones had surgery on her right ankle surgery during the summer, while Bryant broke a bone in her hand.


A Leader from the Start

After leading the Bulldogs in scoring in each of her first three seasons, it is expected that senior guard Megan Vasquez will bring more of the same for her final season in a Yale uniform. Last season, Vasquez became the 17th player in Yale's history to record 1,000 career points, and she enters the 2012-13 season with 1,117 career points, which currently places her in 11th place on Yale's all-time scoring list. She needs just 52 points to pass Margy Hutchinson (1,169 points) and into Yale's Top 10 scoring leaders. Vasquez is coming off of back-to-back seasons in which she earned All-Ivy League First Team honors, becoming one of only six Yale players to earn First Team honors more than once in her career, and the first Bulldog to do so since Mary Kalich in 1992-93 and 1993-94. In her 83 games in a Yale uniform (61 starts), Vasquez has scored in double figures in 61 games and 20 or more points in 14 games.


Next Up

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, Yale will host America East opponent New Hampshire at 7 p.m. inside the friendly confines of Yale's John J. Lee Amphitheater. It will be Yale's second game of the season and the opening game of the season for New Hampshire. It will be the 11th meeting between the two teams. The Wildcats lead the series 9-1.


Gobrecht Joins 500 Club

Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht was the fourth coach during the 2011-12 season to surpass 500 career victories with Yale's 86-73 win over Cornell on Feb. 10, 2012. Gobrecht currently holds a 503-429 overall record, all at the Division I level. She currently ranks 22nd among active coaches for Division I coaching wins. Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons became the first of the six to reach 500 wins on Dec. 3, 2011. DePaul head coach Doug Bruno (12/31) and Kennesaw State head coach Colby Tilly (1/7) also joined the 500-win club last season. Gobrecht has coached for five programs in her career. She went 84-92 at Cal-State Fullerton, 243-89 at Washington, where she is the Huskies' all-time winningest head coach, 5-22 in one season at Florida State, and 93-108 at Southern California, her alma mater. To date, Gobrecht is 77-118 in her eight seasons at Yale, which is the third most coaching victories in Yale's history. She needs two wins to pass Diann Nestel (79-78) and 30 wins to pass Cecelia DeMarco (107-127), Yale's all-time winningest head coach.


Oh Captain, My Captain

Senior Allie Messimer takes over for Michelle Cashen '12 as Yale's captain for the 2012-13 season, the 35th captain in Yale's 40 seasons. Messimer has served as one of Yale's top reserves in her career. On the court, she is one of Yale's top outside threats, leading the team in 3-point shooting percentage last season. Off the court, she has been a driving force behind Yale's annual Pink Zone plans.


Ivy Preseason Poll

Yale was selected third in the Ivy League's preseason poll following a third-place 8-6 finish last season. The Bulldogs received 96 points from a panel of Ivy League media and women's basketball sports information directors. The top three picks in the poll were separated by just 36 points. With 132 points and 13 first-place votes, Princeton was selected to finish first in the standings for the fourth straight season. Harvard was second with 120 points and four first-place votes. Penn (76), Brown (61), Cornell (58), Dartmouth (46), and Columbia (23) round out the final five spots in the preseason poll.


First-Place Votes in Parentheses

Rank       School............................................ Points

1.             Princeton (13)..................................... 132

2.             Harvard (4)......................................... 120

3.             Yale...................................................... 96

4.             Penn.................................................... 76

5.             Brown.................................................. 61

6.             Cornell................................................. 46

7.             Dartmouth........................................... 23 

8.             Columbia.............................................. 90


Strength of Schedule

Yale's non-league schedule continues to offer tough tests in preparation for the Ivy League's 14-game stretch that closes out the season. Each season, Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht puts together a tough non-league slate to prepare her players for a run at the Ivy League championship, and this season's non-league schedule should test the Bulldogs right from the start. The schedule includes three games against teams from two of the toughest conferences in the nation. Yale will visit Chicago in November to take on Big East powerhouse DePaul and Big Ten force Northwestern. Big East power Georgetown is on the December schedule. In total, six of the 14 teams on the non-league schedule played in the postseason last season including Holy Cross and New Hampshire (Women's Basketball Invitational), Quinnipiac (WNIT) and DePaul, Georgetown and Sacred Heart (NCAA).


Picking on the Patriot

For the fifth straight season, Yale will face Patriot League foes Holy Cross, Army and Bucknell. In the previous four seasons, Yale was 9-3 against the Patriot trio. Yale went 3-0 last season against the three teams, beating Holy Cross and Army at home and scoring a road win at Bucknell. The Bulldogs went 2-1 against the trio in 2010-11, beating Holy Cross on the road and Bucknell at home, but losing at Army. Yale swept the three teams in 2009-10, but dropped two of three in 2008-09, gaining the lone win against Holy Cross.

Yale Tales and Tidbits

  • Yale University, founded in 1701, is the third oldest college in the United States and one of the foremost research universities in the world. First known as the Collegiate School, it changed its name in 1718 to honor benefactor Elihu Yale.
  • In 1889, Yale students adopted the first college mascot, Handsome Dan, a ferocious and enthusiastic fan at early football games. Handsome Dan inspired Cole Porter to write Yale's famous fight song, "Bulldog, Bulldog." Today, the original Handsome Dan continues his reign from the lobby of Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Yale students also adopted the first school colors (1853), fielded the first cheerleaders (1890) and developed the first school fight song (1892).
  • Five U.S. Presidents have ties to Yale. William Howard Taft (1878), George H.W. Bush (1948) and George W. Bush (1968) all received their undergraduate degrees from Yale, while Gerald Ford (1941) and Bill Clinton (1973) are both graduates of Yale Law School.


Preseason Honors

College Sports Madness named Yale senior guard Megan Vasquez to its Preseason All-Ivy First Team in its Ivy League preseason preview last month. The Internet publication also named Yale junior forward Janna Graf to its Preseason All-Ivy Second Team.


Follow the Bulldogs

Be sure to follow the Yale women's basektball team throughout the 2012-13 season on Twitter (@YaleWBBDawgz) and on Facebook ("Yale WBB").

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity