Bulldogs Set to Open Season on Nov. 9 in Non-League Game at Holy Cross
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — With nearly everyone returning from a squad that finished 16-12 last season and 8-6 in Ivy League play, there are even higher expectations surrounding the Yale University women's basketball team in 2012-13.
With three returning starters, including All-Ivy League First Team honoree Megan Vasquez and reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year Sarah Halejian, and with four very talented freshmen joining the roster, the Bulldogs have set their sights very high this season. But if they are to return to postseason play for the first time since the WNIT run of 2011 or contend for their first Ivy League crown since 1979, the Bulldogs are going to have to exceed the expectations of the voters in the Ivy League's preseason poll.
The Ivy League released the results of the poll Wednesday afternoon. The 17 voters (two from each school and one national media representative) predicted that Yale will finish third in the Ivy League's standings in 2012-13 behind Princeton and Harvard.
Princeton was predicted to win its fourth straight Ivy League crown with 132 points and 13 first-place votes, while Harvard was predicted to finish second with 120 points and four first-place votes. A total of 26 points separated Princeton at the top of the poll and Yale in the No. 3 spot.
Penn (76 points), Brown (61), Cornell (58), Dartmouth (46), and Columbia (23) round out the final five spots in the preseason poll.
"The Ivy League race is likely to be more exciting than it has been in a while," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "Not only are there teams that can challenge Princeton's recent dominance, there are also several teams that have the ability to beat people and factor into the race."
Gobrecht is entering her eighth season at Yale and her 33rd season at the helm of a Division I program with an overall record of 503-428 and a 78-117 record in her previous seven seasons at Yale, including 44-54 against Ivy League opponents.
Despite losing senior captain Michelle Cashen and fellow starter Aarica West, who elected not to return for her senior season, there are high expectations surrounding the program because of the return of Vasquez and Janna Graf, who earned extremely valuable international experience over the summer, as well as the debut of the highly touted Class of 2016, which include guards Whitney Wyckoff and Nyasha Sarju, wing Meredith Boardman, and center Emmy Allen.
Vasquez played for the Puerto Rico national team in its effort to qualify for the Olympics before a minor injury ended her stay with the team, while Graf was a key member of Germany's U-20 squad that finished second in the European Championships in August.
Led by Vasquez, Yale's leading scorer in each of her first three seasons, the Bulldogs return nine letter winners. Vasquez, the 17th player in Yale's history to record 1,000 career points, was fourth in the Ivy League in scoring last season, averaging 15.3 points per game, while Graf averaged 10.6 points and 5.8 rebounds.
The Bulldogs will tip off the 2012-13 season on Nov. 9 at Holy Cross at 7 p.m. Yale's 2012-13 season also includes visits to Big East powers DePaul and Georgetown, as well as a visit to Northwestern for a reunion with former assistant coach Allison Guth. The Ivy League slate begins with the first of two games against Brown on Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. inside Yale's John J. Lee Amphitheater.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity