Bulldogs Set to Open Season on Nov. 11 in Non-League Contest vs. Holy Cross
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — After ending last season with the program's first appearance in the WNIT, there are high expectations surrounding the Yale University women's basketball team in 2011-12. With four returning starters and a talented trio of impact freshmen, the Bulldogs have set their sights high this season. However, if they are to complete their quest for the second Ivy League championship in their 39-year history and first since 1979, they are going to have to exceed the expectations of the voters in the Ivy League's preseason poll.
Released Wednesday afternoon, the Ivy League preseason poll shows Yale predicted to finish third in the Ivy League standings following a second-place 10-4 finish last season. The Bulldogs received 103 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 30 points. With 133 points and 14 first-place votes, Princeton was selected to finish first in the standings for the third straight season. Harvard was second with 117 points and three first-place votes.
Penn (68), Brown (66), Columbia (52), Dartmouth (52), and Cornell (21) round out the final five spots in the preseason poll.
"On several occasions in recent years, Yale has managed to perform better than the preseason poll predicted. I would be very happy if that trend continued as it is an honor to be picked to finish third in what is likely to be the strongest Ivy League ever," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "Every team will be better this year including Yale. Even though several of us lost some outstanding seniors, the young players that keep entering this league are incredible. I think the race will be more exciting than ever because I believe the teams predicted to finish in the bottom half are very good and capable of beating anyone in the top half."
Gobrecht is entering her seventh season at Yale and her 32nd season at the helm of a Division I program. She enters the 2011-12 season needing 13 wins to reach 500 career victories. Despite losing seniors Mady Gobrecht and captain Yoyo Greenfield to graduation, high expectations remain because of the highly touted Class of 2015 and the nine returning players from the squad that upset Florida State for the program's first-ever win over a nationally ranked opponent, swept Harvard for the first time since 1994 and played a postseason game for the first time since 1979.
Led by All-Ivy League First Team selection Megan Vasquez, Yale's top scorer in each of her first two seasons, the Bulldogs return eight letter-winners, including senior captain Michelle Cashen and sophomore Janna Graf, a unanimous selection to the All-Ivy Rookie Team last season. Vasquez averaged 13.6 points per game last season and needs just 312 points, which would be her lowest output of her Yale career, to become the 17th player in Yale history to eclipse 1,000 career points. Cashen averaged 8.2 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game, while Graf was third on the team in scoring with 9.5 points per game to go along with 4.2 rebounds per game.
The Bulldogs tip off the 2011-12 season at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11 at John J. Lee Amphitheater against Holy Cross. The Bulldogs' schedule also includes a visit to national power Baylor as well as a rematch against Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla. The Ivy League slate begins Jan. 13, 2012, at Brown.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity