The Bulldogs return home for the first time since Nov. 20 and for just the second time this season. Yale opened the season with five of the first six games on the road, but now will play the next four games inside the friendly confines of John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs will not hit the road again until a year-ending tournament at Fordham University on Dec. 28-29. This is Yale's first game against Fairleigh Dickinson in seven seasons. Yale is looking for its first victory since a season-opening win at Holy Cross.
Last Time Out
Yale played without starting guards Megan Vasquez and Yoyo Greenfield in a 74-62 loss at Providence. The pair collided in practice earlier in the week and suffered mild concussions that prevented them from dressing for the game. Sophomore Symone Roberts scored 11 of her game-high 18 points and tallied six rebounds and four steals to lead the Friars. Teammate Miranda Tate also had 18 points. Michelle Cashen and Allie Messimer each scored 12 points to lead the Bulldogs.
Home Sweet Home
Yale is playing just its second game at home this season tonight when it faces Fairleigh Dickinson and first home game since Nov. 20, when it lost to Delaware. The Bulldogs opened the season with five of their first six games away from the friendly confines of John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs will play their next four games at home, beginning tonight against FDU. They will then host in-state rival Sacred Heart before breaking for 10 days for the Fall semester final exams. The action will ramp up when the players return from exams with a thrilling contest against Florida State. The Bulldogs will be looking for their second win in 10 attempts against an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The homestand will conclude against another in-state rival, Quinnipiac, on Dec. 20.
Senior captain Yoyo Greenfield and sophomore Megan Vasquez, both starting guards for the Bulldogs, are expected back in the lineup tonight against Fairleigh Dickinson. They both missed the game at Providence after a collision in practice earlier last week left them both with a mild concussion. It was the first time this season that both players missed a game and the first time that Greenfield missed a start since Yale visited Penn on Jan. 29, 2010. She started 27 of the 28 games she played in last season, while Vasquez has started 19 of the 33 games she has played in at Yale.
Time To Shine
Due to the injuries to starting guards Yoyo Greenfield and Megan Vasquez, the Bulldogs saw a pair of players earn their first starts of their collegiate careers at Providence. Aarica West certainly got her chance to shine. She played a game-high 33 minutes and made almost every one of those minutes count. She collected a career-high seven assists to go along with four points, five rebounds and three steals. Alicia Seelaus also earned the chance to start, playing 16 minutes while recording three points and two rebounds. The pair of sophomores have played in all six games this season.
Bring On The NEC
Tonight's game against Fairleigh Dickinson represents the first of three games against opponents from the Northeast Conference. Yale is slated to meet Sacred Heart on Wednesday, Dec. 8, and Quinnipiac on Dec. 20. All three games are home games for the Bulldogs. Yale is a combined 23-27 against eight of the 12 teams in the NEC. Yale has never faced Robert Morris, Monmouth, St. Francis (Pa.), or Mount St. Mary's.
Strength In Numbers
Despite allowing an Ivy League-worst 74.0 points per game, the Bulldogs are still showing some positive signs on the defensive end. They are the top team in the Ivy League in steals with an average of 10.2 per game, an average that dropped from 11.5 per game after the Bulldogs were held to just five steals at UC Davis. They are also second in 3-point defensive shooting percentage, allowing a league-low 14 made threes on just 26.4 percent success. Offensively, the signs are just as positive. The Bulldogs are third in the Ivy League in scoring (60.4 points per game) and second in free-throw percentage (73.6 percent). They are also third in the league in assists (13.2 apt) and third in 3-pointers made per game (6.2).
Every Day is Mother's Day
Senior forward Mady Gobrecht is the daughter of head coach Chris Gobrecht. They are the only current active mother-daughter, coach-player tandems in Division I women's basketball. This is the sixth time in Yale's 157-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).
The Fab Four
Yale has bolstered its lineup for 2010-11 with four freshmen that are expected to make an immediate impact. Guard Amanda Tyson, forwards Janna Graf and Alexandra Osborn-Jones, and center Zenab Keita comprise one of the strongest freshman classes during Head Coach Chris Gobrecht's tenure.
Nice to Meet You
Non-conference games against Florida State, Delaware and Villanova will all be first-time meetings. The scheduled West Coast trip will mark just the second meeting Yale has had with California and UC Davis.
Making the Rounds
The Bulldogs' 14 non-conference games feature opponents from nine different conferences (ACC, Big East, Pac 10, America East, Big West, Northeast Conference, Atlantic 10, Colonial Athletic Association, and the Patriot League.
Seven teams on the Bulldogs' 2010-11 slate participated in the postseason last spring. Florida State and Princeton earned a berth in the 2010 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. Five other Bulldog opponents participated in the WNIT, including WNIT champion California.
Dominating The Leaderboard
After leading the Bulldogs in scoring last season as a freshman, sophomore point guard Megan Vasquez is already making her mark on the Ivy League leaderboards. Counting all games through Nov. 29, Vasquez is sixth in the Ivy League in scoring (12.6 points per game), third in 3-pointers per game (1.8), and fourth in assists (2.8 apg), which is tied with teammate Yoyo Greenfield. She is also sixth in 3-point shooting percentage (40.9 percent), seventh in free-throw percentage (76.9 percent), and 20th in rebounding (4.4 rpg).
Despite missing the first game of the season, junior forward Michelle Cashen is making a name for herself among the top defenders in the nation. Cashen has collected a total of 12 steals in the four games that she has played in for the Bulldogs. She matched her career-high of five steals on two separate occasions this season — at Boston University and again last week at California. Her average of 3.0 steals ranks her first in the Ivy League for steals per game and 36th in the nation for stats that include games through Nov. 28.
On The Holiday Horizon
Following this stretch of four consecutive home games, the Bulldogs will depart for the Bronx to take part in the Fordham Holiday Classic, joining the teams from Fordham, Villanova and Sienna. On Dec. 28, Villanova will meet Sienna and Yale will take on the tournament hosts. On Dec. 29, Yale will face Villanova, while Fordham will square off against Sienna. It will be the 16th meeting against Fordham, which leads the series 10-5, while it will feature Yale's first-ever game against Villanova.
The Bulldogs' West Coast trip gave them a chance to face a pair of foes that they have met only once prior to the 2010-11 season. On Nov. 23, Yale met California for the first time since 1979, in Berkeley, where they fell 64-41. Last month's meeting was the sixth loss for the Bulldogs in six tries against a Pac-10 team. The Bulldogs then headed east to take on UC Davis, where they lost a hard-fought battle against the Aggies, 73-62. For Ericka von Kaeppler, the trip was a chance to play in front of friends and family. She grew up in Palo Alto, which is located just south of Berkeley. Two other Bulldogs also had the opportunity to play in their home state, but still hours away from home. Yoyo Greenfield is a Los Angeles native, while Aarica West is from Buena Park.
Thanksgiving Still A Family Affair
Although the players and coaches were away from their families for the Thanksgiving holiday, they still found a way to make the holiday feast a family affair. Following the Nov. 23 game against California, sophomore forward Ericka von Kaeppler and her family entertained her coaches teammates at their home just outside of Palo Alto, Calif., on the night before Thanksgiving for a home-cooked dinner. They traveled to the campus facility at UC Davis on Thanksgiving morning and staged an early morning practice in preparation for the Nov. 26 game against the Aggies. Following the practice, the players and coaches gathered together for a Thanksgiving feast with each other in the afternoon to celebrate the holiday as a team in Sacramento, a short 20-minute ride away from the UC Davis campus.
Scouting Fairleigh Dickinson
Fairleigh Dickinson is coming off of a 9-20 campaign in 2009-10, during which it finished and 11th-place 5-13 in the Northeast Conference and failed to qualify for the NEC's postseason tournament. The Knights, however, return all 13 players from last year's squad, including all five starters and add one freshman in Desiree Crawford. The Knights opened the season with two wins in their first three games, but they have since dropped three of their last four contests. Tonight is the third straight road game for the Knights and the final game of a road trip that included losses at Stony Brook (68-51) and Lafayette (51-37). Against Lafayette, FDU held a 19-7 lead early in the first half, but Lafayette opened up the second half with a 24-7 run and held on for the win.
All three of Fairleigh Dickinson's assistant coaches are in their first year in that role with the team. However, two of them are not strangers to Head Coach Peter Cinella. Assistant Coach Mercedez Walker and Graduate Assistant Coach Jennifer Walkling both played for Cinella at Fairleigh Dickinson. Walker, a Stratford native, finished her college career as the Knights' all-time blocks leader (180) and finished with 477 points (4.2 ppg) and 433 rebounds (3.8 rpg). Walkling was a four-year starter and graduated in 2008 as the eighth all-time leading scorer (1,243 points) and third all-time leading rebounder (851). Both were seniors during Cinella's first year at the helm.
Junior center Esther Wallace has picked up her defensive effort in the last three games for the Knights. After just four blocks in the first four games, including none against Columbia, Wallace has turned things around with a whopping 15 blocks in the last three games, including a career-high six blocks at Stony Brook on Dec. 2.
Fairleigh Dickinson has already faced four opponents that Yale will see in the 2010-11 season. The Knights tipped off their season with a 78-37 loss at Princeton followed by wins at Columbia (61-50) and home against Army (52-43). Their fourth game of the season was home against Fordham, which will host Yale in its holiday tournament on Dec. 28-29. Fairleigh Dickinson fell to 2-2 with the 62-56 loss.
This is just the third meeting between the two teams, but the first time Yale has faced the Knights during Chris Gobrecht's tenure. Fairleigh Dickinson holds a 2-0 advantage in the series. On Dec. 30, 2003, the Knights defeated the Bulldogs, 78-69, at Yale. On Dec. 30, 2002, Yale dropped a narrow, 71-67 loss at FDU. Yale is a combined 23-27 against eight of the 12 teams in the NEC. Yale has never faced Robert Morris, Monmouth, St. Francis (Pa.), or Mount St. Mary's.