Season Preview: Talented Bulldogs Primed For Successful Season

Sarah Halejian. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Sarah Halejian. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach at Yale, enters the 2013-14 campaign with a deep and talented roster that is capable of executing her aggressive and up-tempo system. With a strong early season schedule, the Bulldogs will be well-prepared for the challenging Ivy League slate.

Yale returns its top two scorers, but the roster needs to get game experience and build a rapport playing with each other. The squad's overall depth and ability to play different lineups based on matchups will allow each of the Bulldogs to play an important role in the team's success.

"We are going to be a good basketball team," said Gobrecht, who is entering her ninth season at Yale. "We are going to have to work and it will happen, but it's a marathon, not a sprint."

Gobrecht is one of the winningest active coaches with over 500 career wins and has guided the Bulldogs to top-four finishes in the Ivy League in each of the past four seasons. This season's squad has several shooters and scoring options. They have also shown a commitment to working hard every day, which should help the squad become a better rebounding and defensive unit this season.

A breakdown of the 2013-14 roster follows:

Back Court

Yale will need to work a new point guard into the lineup, but the back court returns a pair of All-Ivy League honorees in senior Janna Graf and junior Sarah Halejian. Graf, the 36th captain in the history of the Bulldogs' program, started every game last season and ranked among the top 10 in the league in both rebounding (5.4 per game) and steals (1.6 per game), while adding 12.1 points per game. Her persistence and relentless work ethic has helped set an example for the team to follow. Halejian earned All-Ivy League First Team recognition after ranking fifth in the league at 13.8 points per game and dished out 81 assists. She also scored a career-high 29 points against Harvard, which is the second-highest single-game total in program history.

Senior Amanda Tyson has played in 66 games during her career. As a junior, she played in all 28 games and averaged a career-best 4.6 points per game, including a 16-point outburst at Bryant.

Junior Hayden Latham is set to return to the court after missing her sophomore season due to injury. In 19 games as a freshman she averaged 6.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while playing just under 20 minutes per game.

Two sophomores - Nyasha Sarju and Whitney Wyckoff - add to the depth in the backcourt. Sarju appeared in all 28 games as a freshman and scored 18 points in her Yale debut, en route to contributing 5.0 per game. Wyckoff appeared as a reserve in 18 contests and scored 21 points, with 22 rebounds and nine assists.

A pair of freshmen - Meghan McIntyre and Lena Munzer - round out the Bulldogs' options in the back court. McIntyre set a school- and Ventura County-record at Oaks Christian High School with 303 career three-pointers. Munzer scored 1,977 career points and was an All-State Second Team selection at Highland Park High School.

Front Court

The Bulldogs have several options in the frontcourt that will allow them to play different lineups based on matchups. Leading the way are seniors Zenab Keita and Alexandra Osborn-Jones. Keita led the team in field goal percentage (.431, while grabbing 4.9 rebounds per game last season. Osborn-Jones was slowed by injury as a junior, but has played in 49 games in her career and earned the Karen Yarasavage Award, which is presented to the player who most displays the attributes of grit, determination and Bulldog spirit.

Junior Arrice Bryant missed last season due to injury, but as a freshman she ranked fourth on the team in rebounding (3.7 per game) and tied for the team lead with 16 blocked shots.

Sophomore Emmy Allen played 25 games as a rookie and led the team in free-throw percentage, while shooting better than 40 percent from the field in Ivy League play. Meredith Boardman appeared in 27 games last year and ranked third on the team with 4.3 rebounds per game, while adding 4.1 points per contest.

Freshman Katie Werner was named the Arizona Preps Player of the Year and was an All-State All-Arizona selection after averaging 24.3 points and 9.3 rebounds at Xavier College Preparatory. Elizabeth Haley was a two-time Southwestern Buckeye League Player of the Year at Oakwood High School and grabbed a school-record 840 rebounds in her career.

Yale tips off the 2013-14 season at Monmouth on Saturday in West Long Branch, N.J.