W. BASKETBALL | Season preview

Is the glass half full or half empty?

At first glance, the women’s basketball team’s 2007-’08 season would seem to be nothing special. The Bulldogs finished in fourth place out of eight teams in the Ivy League with a lowly 9-18 record overall. But such an analysis would miss out on the tremendous strides made by the team last season — strides that the team will look to continue this year.

The Bulldogs posted a 7-7 record in Ancient Eight play, their best mark since the 2001-’02 season. The Elis also scored their first Ivy League road win in almost three years when they triumphed at Brown 52-45 on Jan. 19. The pinnacle of the season came with its last game, which saw the Bulldogs upset Harvard and deny them an outright Ivy League title and, ultimately, an NCAA tournament birth.

With that momentum, the Elis enter this season and hope to continue their upward trend in improvement over the last few years under head coach Chris Gobrecht’s tutelage. In order to do that, the Bulldogs will have to pass at least Harvard, Cornell or Dartmouth, who all finished the regular season tied for first place.

“I definitely think we can break into the top three,” forward Ashley Carter ’10 said. “Cornell lost one of their top players and best posts in the Ivy League, [Ivy League Player of the Year Jeomi Maduka], to track. We match up pretty well against Harvard, [while] Dartmouth will be our toughest challenge.”

Fueling the hope for a better record is the fact that the Elis will return their two leading scorers from last year in captain Jamie Van Horne ’09 and first team All-Ivy League forward Melissa Colborne ’10. Van Horne will try to continue to rewrite the Bulldog record books for three-pointers this season, while Colborne will continue to assert herself as one of the program’s best players ever.

The Elis will bring the same style to John J. Lee Amphitheater as last year, an attack molded around pressure defense and up-tempo offense. Last season was the debut of the scheme after the Bulldogs previously utilized a slower pace that featured All-Ivy center Erica Davis ’06 in the half-court.

“We are still doing the running game,” Carter said. “We are going to push the ball as much as possible, and want to outlast the other team.”

But heading into this season, lingering issues for the Elis still remain heading. One of those will be replacing last year’s captain and starting point guard, Stephanie Marciano ’08, who consistently pushed and motivated the team throughout last season. Guard Yoyo Greenfield ’11, Marciano’s backup last year, will step up into the starting role this season with Brianna Segerson ’12 backing her up.

“I think I’m ready,” Greenfield said. “Our offense isn’t really dictated by the point guard as much as other schools, and I’m sure the team will support me and push me to do my best.”

In another major development, forward Lindsay Williams ’11, who started at forward last year, will be out for the entire season due to two knee surgeries. Williams’ knees had been hurting ever since she started playing sports, getting progressively worse with the problem peaking last season. Doctors told Willams that they were surprised she had lasted the season and described extensive damage to the meniscus and patella.

Williams had lateral relief surgery on her left knee this summer and was faced with a decision. She could make it back for the last few games this season after extensive therapy, or she could sit out the entire season, have the same surgery on the other knee in December, and have two fully healthy years remaining.

“It’s really hard, just because I really want to play,” Williams said. “It’s hard watching practice, but in the long run, it will pay off for me and the team.”

One of the problems that surfaced last season was the Bulldogs’ inability to consistently maintain their effort for the full 40 minutes of the game. Strong starts would turn into long droughts, or alternatively, the Elis would have to comeback from large double-digit deficits, only to ultimately fall a little short in the box score. Looking to fix this problem, the team hopes to improve their preparation for games.

“We are going to change our warm-ups to make sure we are ready to start the game,” Greenfield said. “We have been running more to keep us in better shape to keep up the intensity.”

The Bulldogs kick off their season this Saturday at Holy Cross, facing a Crusader team that beat them last year in New Haven, 66-59. In that game, the Elis trailed by as many as 20 points before closing the deficit, emphasizing the need to improve their consistency.

“If we don’t start slow, we can beat Holy Cross this weekend,” Carter said. “We need to maintain our push the entire game and don’t let up.”

Contact Robert Kruse at

robert.kruse@yale.edu.

Comments

  • Really?

    Why would the YDN, in a season preview, choose a picture for this story in which the Yale player is very clearly being blocked? Isn't the story supposed to be a positive story increasing hype for the new season?