Yale Bulldogs (1-2, 0-0 Ivy League) vs. DePaul Blue Demons (2-1, 0-0 Big East)
The Yale women's basketball team will embark on its first major road trip of this historic 40th season. The Bulldogs will spend Thanksgiving week in Chicago, beginning with Monday's game at Big East powerhouse DePaul. The Bulldogs are looking to build on the success found in their first win of the season on Saturday against Houston. Last year's Ivy League Rookie of the Year Sarah Halejian and junior center Zenab Keita, Yale's leading scorers, will lead the Bulldogs into McGrath-Phillips Arena to take on DePaul, the alma mater of Yale assistant coach Jarietta Benton. It is just the second meeting between the Bulldogs and Blue Demons. Freshman forward Meredith Boardman's hometown of Oak Park, Ill., is about 30 minutes north of Chicago.
DePaul enters Monday's game against Yale with a 2-1 record after bouncing back from a loss in the championship game of the Maggie Dixon Classic with a 68-51 win Saturday night over Howard. This is the fourth straight home game for the Blue Demons, who are carrying four double-digit scorers in their starting lineup, including leading scorer Brittany Hrynko (16.7 ppg.) and Katherine Harry, who is averaging a double-double with 12.7 ppg. and 10.7 rpg. The Blue Demons will share the offensive responsibilities and they find ways to get the ball to an open teammate. They have recorded 67 assists on 88 made baskets, an assist rate of 77.0 percent. Senior guard Anna Martin (22), freshman Chanise Jenkins (16), and Hrynko (15) have combined for 53 of DePaul's 67 assists. Martin is the team leader, scoring 1,421 points in her DePaul career, which is 14th best on DePaul's all-time scoring list. DePaul can also shoot from outside and enters Monday's game on a streak of 96 straight games with at least one made 3-pointer.
Prior to Monday's meeting, DePaul and Yale have met only once before. In the opening game of the DePaul Invitational on Nov. 18, 2006, the Bulldogs put a scare into the Blue Demons in the opening half of play, trailing 35-34 at the halftime break. DePaul picked up the pace in the second half, scoring 51 points in the final 20 minutes to take an 86-60 victory over the Bulldogs. Melissa Colborne led the Bulldogs with 14 points, while Erica Davis had 10 points and nine rebounds. Sara McCollum had seven points and seven rebounds for Yale, while Chinenye Okafor also pulled down seven rebounds. Four players scored in double figures for the Blue Demons, led by China Threatt, who scored 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Chicago native Brittani Nichols made her Yale debut in the game and tallied two points and one rebound in six minutes of action.
Home Court Advantage
DePaul has really enjoyed the friendly confines of McGrath-Phillips Arena since it opened in time for the 2000-01 season. The Blue Demons have been nearly unbeatable at home in the 13 seasons played there. They have lost no more than two games in McGrath-Phillips Arena in each of the last four seasons. In the entire 13-year history of the facility, the Blue Demons have lost more than two games in a season only twice, with a 9-5 record there in 2001-02 and a 9-6 record there in 2007-08. In three of those 13 seasons, DePaul went undefeated at home, going 13-0 in 2002-03, 14-0 in 2004-05, and 17-0 in 2010-11. In the four-year stretch that Yale assistant coach Jarietta Benton played at DePaul, the Blue Demons were an amazing 53-2 in games played in McGrath-Phillips Arena.
The Man in Charge
DePaul head coach Doug Bruno has enjoyed a long and successful career as the coach of the women's basketball team at his alma mater. A 1973 graduate of DePaul, Bruno is in his second stint as the Blue Demons' head coach. He was the head coach for two seasons from 1976-78, and then he returned to DePaul in 1988, where he has been a mainstay on the Blue Demons' bench ever since. Bruno has tallied a 511-283 record in 27 seasons at DePaul. That success has led to other coaching opportunities for him. He spent his summer as an assistant for the U.S. Women's National Team that captured the gold medal at the London Olympics. He was also on the National Team coaching staff when the team won the FIBA World Championships in Oct. 2010.
Senior forward Katherine Harry has recorded 836 rebounds in her DePaul career, which ranks sixth on the Blue Demons' all-time list. She is averaging 10.7 rpg. this season. She has recorded double-digit rebounds in 31 career games and twice this season.
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.
Yale rallied to its first win of the season, an 84-82 victory over Houston in New Haven on Saturday. Trailing 17-6 after a slow start, the Bulldogs recovered in time to pull within two points, 37-35, at halftime. The Bulldogs dominated the start of the second half, jumping out to a 48-41 lead after opening the period with a 13-4 run that was fueled by an eight-point burst by Sarah Halejian, who finished with 17 points. Trailing 68-61 with 8:59 left, Houston regained control of the game with a 12-0 run to take a 73-68 lead with 5:55 left. The Bulldogs responded and reclaimed control of the game with a 12-0 run of their own to take an 80-73 lead with 2:31 left in the game. Houston closed the game with a 9-4 run and had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Marissa Ashton's desperation shot hit the rim and bounced away, giving Yale its first win of the 2012-13 season. Yale outrebounded Houston 50-47, and in the first half, despite the early struggles, the Bulldogs used that hustle under the glass to grab a 28-18 rebounding edge.
Keita's Career Night
Zenab Keita, the Bulldogs' junior center, recorded her first career double-double with career-highs in points (18) and rebounds (11) to lead Yale to an 84-82 win over Houston Saturday night. En route to the double-double, Keita set career-bests in field goals made (6) and attempted (12) and she was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. Her eight defensive rebounds and four assists were also a career-high, while her three blocks matched a career-high.
More Shining Stars vs. Houston
Keita was not the only Bulldog having a career night against the Cougars. Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian scored 17 points, falling one point shy of her career-high of 18, but she set a career-high mark in field goals made (7) in the victory. Freshman Meredith Boardman tallied 11 points, nine rebounds, seven offensive rebounds and five assists, setting season-high marks in all four categories. Five Bulldogs in all scored in double figures with junior guard Janna Graf pouring in 16 points and senior guard Megan Vasquez adding 12 points.
Yale will close out its Thanksgiving week trip to Chicago with a game at Northwestern on Wednesday afternoon. The game will reunite the Bulldogs with former assistant coach Allison Guth, who spent two years with the Bulldogs before joining the Wildcats coaching staff this summer as their assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Guth has helped guide the Wildcats to a 2-0 start to the season, and she recently helped secure a recruiting class for 2013-14 that was ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten and No. 22 in the nation.
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.
Yale's best effort in its 87-71 opening loss at Holy Cross 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. In the home loss to New Hampshire, Sarju was Yale's second-highest scorer, following up her debut with a nine-point effort. She is currently tied with sophomore guard Sarah Halejian atop Yale's scoring leaderboard, with an average of 13.5 points per game.
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.
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.
500 for Gobrecht
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 504-430 overall record, all at the Division I level. 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 79-119 in her eight seasons at Yale, which matches Diann Nestel (79-78) for the second most coaching victories in Yale's history. Gobrecht needs 28 more wins to match 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.
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.
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").
Kelsey Hogan scored six of her 14 points and Morgan Frame added five of her 13 points in an 11-2 run that proved to be the difference in New Hampshire's 57-51 win over Yale on Nov. 14. Yale was leading 46-42 with 5:20 left in the game before the Wildcats started their rally. Hogan went 6-for-6 from the line in the final 5:02 to secure the victory for the Wildcats. New Hampshire had five players score at least seven points, with Hogan and Frame the only players in double figures. Sophomore guard Sarah Halejian scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half to lead the Bulldogs.
Brisje Malone led all scorers with 23 points to propel Holy Cross to an 87-71 win over Yale on Nov. 9. 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. 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.
Yale's best effort in its 87-71 opening loss at Holy Cross 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, making her first game in a Yale uniform a memorable one. In the home loss to New Hampshire, Sarju was Yale's second-highest scorer, following up her debut with a nine-point effort. She is currently fourth on the team in scoring, with an average of 9.7 points per game.
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.
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.
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
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.