A lot of squads in the Yale women’s basketball team’s position would have given up by now.
The Elis (3-11, 0-1 Ivy) have appeared on the verge of a breakthrough in multiple games this season only to see their opportunities squandered down the stretch. Each time the Bulldogs appear to have a season-turning win within reach, it has slipped away.
Despite their shortcomings this season, the Elis still believe that a revival is a distinct possibility. After all, the team is only one game into the Ivy League portion of the schedule, which always determines the extent of a season’s success. Going 3-10 against other opponents will be forgotten with a run through the conference. And Saturday night, the Bulldogs will have yet another opportunity to break out when they travel to Brown.
Saturday afternoon, Brown (7-7, 1-0) came into the John J. Lee Amphitheater and left with an 84-77 victory. Yale is confident it can return the favor on Brown’s home court.
“Everybody’s pretty optimistic,” head coach Amy Backus said. “It’s a situation where we’re just not making some good decisions on the court, and in close games, not making good decisions is trouble. But we’re putting points up, which we were struggling with earlier in the season.”
For the Elis to succeed this time, they will have to slow down Brown’s transition game, which accounted for 27 of the Bears’ points.
“We’re working on stopping their transition game, and we feel that if we can do that better than we did Saturday that it will be a big difference in the game,” said Christina Phillips ’04. “It starts with us scoring more, but really it comes down to getting back and stopping their penetration.”
One reason for optimism has been the recent play of Bonnie Smith ’04, who has shaken her early-season shooting woes to catch fire, averaging 21 points over the past two outings. Backus praised Smith’s resilience.
“She was so disgusted with her play at the beginning of the year,” Backus said. “She couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. What she really tried to do was find different ways to score. Now she’s playing out of her mind, not only scoring-wise but she’s been having 5 to 7 rebounds and 4 to 6 assists each game too.”
Backus said the team’s rotation has had to shrink with Smith’s emergence because it has been difficult to take her off the court. Brynn Gingras ’04 and team captain Maria Smear ’03 have returned from injuries, but they are not able to play at the levels they were at previously.
The situation at guard has become slightly more complicated because of these developments, but Backus said if the team sustains the emotion it found in the first Brown game, they should have a successful weekend. The first win is always the hardest, so for the Bulldogs, getting over the hump against Brown might be a sign of things to come.