Bulldogs Head to Holy Cross to Open 2008-09 Season

Bulldogs Head to Holy Cross to Open 2008-09 Season

Nov. 13, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale women's basketball opens up its 36th varsity season this weekend with a trip to Worcester, Mass. to challenge the Holy Cross Crusaders. The action tips off from the Hart Recreation Center on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m.

The Bulldogs have lost their last six season openers dating back to the 2002-03 campaign. Yale last started a season 1-0 in 2001-02, when the squad won at Boston University by a score of 81-60.

After claiming a 66-59 road victory in New Haven last season, Holy Cross leads the all-time series 6-3. The Crusaders have won the last two meetings, one on each team's home court, with the last Bulldog win coming on Dec. 4, 1993 on a neutral floor as a part of the Connecticut Classic. Yale is winless (0-4) at Holy Cross, dating back to its first game on the Crusaders' home floor during the 1983-84 season.

Selected to win the Patriot League in the preseason poll, Holy Cross opens its 2008-09 campaign against the Bulldogs. Holy Cross is coming off of a 19-13 overall record in 2007-08 and a second place finish in the Patriot League with a 10-4 mark. The Crusaders are led on the court by junior guard Brianna McFadden, the reigning Patriot League Player of the Year. McFadden averaged 13.5 points per game and led the league in free throw percentage (.811) last season. Bethany O'Dell, now a junior, was a second team All-Patriot player last year on the heels of an 11.4 points, 4.6 rebounds per game season. In total, the Crusaders return three starters and seven letterwinners from the 2007-08 season. The most significant loss for the Crusaders is graduated guard Laura Aloisi, who notched 8.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists per contest last season.

Chris Gobrecht has amassed a 449-369 (.549) record during her 28 seasons as a Division I head coach, ranking her 31st among active coaches in career victories. The ninth coach in the 36-year history of Yale women's basketball, Gobrecht has more career victories than any other active basketball coach (men's or women's) in the Ivy League. In her tenure at Yale, she has he has coached an Ivy League Rookie of the Year (Melissa Colborne, 2006-07) and two first team All-Ivy players (Colborne, 2007-08 and Erica Davis, 2006-07). Prior to Gobrecht's arrival in the Elm City, a Bulldog player had not earned first team accolades since Katy Grubbs in the 1997-98 campaign. In her third season at Yale, the 28-year Division I coaching veteran led the Bulldogs to a 7-7 record in the Ivy League, their best conference record since 2001-02. Yale's fourth-place finish in the league was also its highest since the 2001-02 campaign. Despite a non-conference schedule that included eventual National Finalist Stanford, as well as NCAA Tournament participants Arizona State and Marist, the Bulldogs posted nine wins, the team's second-highest victory total in the last six seasons.

After piling up 517 career coaching victories at St. Francis (N.Y.) and Fairfield, Yale Assistant Coach Dianne Nolan was recently one of 14 inductees enshrined into the Camden County (N.J.) Sports Hall of Fame. Nolan's ties to Camden County athletics begin at Gloucester Catholic High School. A 1969 graduate of the school, Nolan was a three-sport athlete. She played basketball under the coaching of her mother, Bert Nolan, a fellow Camden County Sports Hall of Famer. Nolan was recognized five times as the MAAC Coach of the Year, taking the honors in 1983, 1984, 1990, 1998 and 2000. She was named the MBWA Coach of the Year in 2001 and earned New England Coach of the Year honors in 1984.

With Coach Gobrecht (449 career wins) and Coach Nolan (517 wins) helming the Yale bench, and Head Coach Bill Gibbons (463 wins) patrolling the Crusaders' sidelines, there will be a total of 1,429 Division I victories in the Hart Center this Saturday. Gibbons is one of just two 2008-09 Yale opponents with more career wins than Gobrecht. North Carolina State Head Coach Kay Yow, who will lead the Wolfpack against Yale as a part of the Subway Classic in Minnesota on Nov. 22, has racked up 729 career victories entering the 2008-09 season.

In the Ivy League Preseason Poll, the Bulldogs were selected to repeat their 2007-08 fourth place finish. After winning the Ivy League title outright in 2006-07 and sharing the crown in 2007-08, the Harvard Crimson have once again been tabbed to win the Ivy in 2008-09, as voted on by the media and women's basketball sports information directors of the Ancient Eight. Harvard notched 128 total points and 10 of 17 first place votes Dartmouth, who along with Harvard and Cornell shared the Ivy title at 11-3 last season, was slotted to place second with 117 points and four first place votes. Big Red received the other three first place votes and 94 points overall to land in third place. Cornell will have an upward climb to stay on par with the other 2007-08 co-champions of the Ivy League, as Ivy League Player of the Year Jeomi Maduka has left the program to pursue track and field. The Bulldogs are the first team behind the trio of 2007-08 champions in the poll, garnering 83 points. The preseason poll is rounded out by Columbia (74 points), Penn (52), Princeton (46) and Brown (18).

Once again in 2008-09, Bulldogs' fans can watch every home game from the John J. Lee Amphitheater live and for free via the new "Yale All-Access" package. All Yale All-Access content will also be archived on www.yalebulldogs.com. The webcasts include audio commentary by WYBC, Yale's student radio station. To access the feed, simply click on the "Yale All-Access" logo in the upper right corner of the Yale Athletics home page, or the "watch" link on the schedule. Viewers will need to create an account by entering a username and password.

Senior guard Jamie Van Horne has been selected as team captain for the 2008-09 season. Van Horne finished second on the team with 9.1 points per game and fourth with 1.5 assists per contest last season. She placed second in the Ivy League with 59 three-pointers, and sank at least one three-pointer in 20 games, draining at least five treys four times. "I am honored that my teammates have chosen me to be captain," Van Horne said of her new position. "I am excited for next year and will work hard to help this team be the best it can be. Stephanie [Marciano] is a hard act to follow [as captain] in her ability to motivate and lead, but she was a good teacher. This team has a lot of potential, and it will be fun to see how successful we will be."

Junior Melissa Colborne led the team and finished second in the Ancient Eight in scoring with 15.7 points per game en route to earning first team All-Ivy laurels. The Calgary, Alberta native also placed fourth in the Ivy League in both field goal percentage (.474) and free throw percentage (.788). Colborne was previously honored as the Ivy League Rookie of the Year as a freshman.

Forward Lindsey Williams was one of three unanimous selections to the 2007-08 Ivy League All-Rookie Team. Williams led the Bulldogs and placed fifth in the Ivy League with 6.6 rebounds per game, and finished third on the team in scoring with 8.6 points per game.

Freshman Verena Lehner, a native of Gmunden, Austria, is the first European-born player in Yale women's basketball history. She is only the third foreign-born player in program history. Teammate Melissa Colborne (Calgary, Alberta) and Lissie Detres `93 (Mayaguez, Puerto Rico) are the only other players to hail from outside of the 50 states. Lehner netted 24 points against the Bulldogs during the team's trip to Germany in the summer of 2007.

Senior Jamie Van Horne enters her senior season with 154 three-point field goals, just 11 behind Yale's all-time leader, Tory Mauseth `05. Van Horne knocked down 59 triples in 2007-08, the second highest single-season total in Bulldogs' history. The single-season mark at Yale belongs to Maria Smear `03, who sank 62 treys in the 2000-01 season.

Forwards Michelle Cashen and Verena Lehner and guard Brianna Segerson comprise the Bulldogs' freshman contingent in 2008-09. Cashen attended Midwood High School in Belle Harbor, N.Y., where she was named team MVP in her junior and senior seasons, while also earning recognition as a Daily News All-Star in both years. Lehner, a native of Austria, attended the Pomfret School in Pomfret, Conn. as a senior. In her lone season at the Pomfret School, she was an all-league player as well as her team MVP in both basketball and volleyball Segerson, a graduate of Walsh Jesuit in Fairlawn, Ohio, earned all-state honors as a senior. She holds schools records in career assists and steals, and ranks fourth all time in scoring.

Junior guard Allie Canulli has added basketball to her busy schedule as starting third baseman for the Bulldogs' softball team. Canulli, who holds the Illinois high school record for sinking the most consecutive three-pointers in a game with eight, hit .236 with two home runs and 16 runs batted in on the diamond last spring.

Senior guard Kaitlyn Lillemoe, who missed the entire 2007-08 season with an ankle injury, is slated to return to the Bulldogs' lineup this season. As a sophomore, Lillemoe came off the bench in all 28 of the team's games, averaging 2.7 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.

Including possible opponents, Yale's 14 non-conference games could feature as many as eight different conferences (America East, Atlantic 10, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Northeast, Patriot, Southeastern and West Coast) as well as two independents (New Jersey Institute of Technology and Bryant). The Bulldogs' non-conference slate consists of two teams to which they have never lost (St. Bonaventure, Long Island) and three teams that they have never beaten (New Hampshire, North Carolina State, American). Kentucky, California-Irvine, California-Riverside, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Bryant and possible opponent Minnesota will all be first-time meetings.

Sophomore forward Mady Gobrecht is the daughter of head coach Chris Gobrecht. They are one of two active mother-daughter, coach-player tandems in Division I women's basketball (Southern Mississippi: Coach Joye Lee-McNelis and Whitney McNelis). This is the sixth time in Yale's 156-year athletic history that a head coach is mentoring his or her child in a varsity sport, and the first where the combo is mother-daughter (men's fencing: Robert & Maurice Grasson, 1936-38; baseball: Smoky Joe & Joseph Wood, 1939-41; men's basketball: Howard & David Hobson, 1952-55; men's squash: John & Jack Skillman, 1954-55; football: Jordan & Harry Olivar, 1957-59).

Complete Game Notes in PDF Format

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity