Sitting on 194 career victories headed into the season, reaching 200 seemed a formality for women’s basketball coach Amy Backus. But early inconsistency followed by a slew of injuries prevented Backus from reaching that mark until the season’s penultimate weekend.
Backus accumulated her wins at Ohio’s Otterbein College, Middlebury College and during her four seasons at Yale.
Even before the season tipped off, it has been a chaotic campaign for Backus’ Bulldogs (6-19, 3-9 Ivy). Helene Schutrumpf ’03 quit the team in the offseason, leaving captain Maria Smear ’03 as the only senior. With Smear and others injured on a regular basis, Backus has consistently juggled her rotation.
“It has been difficult both from a coaching perspective as well as for the players,” Backus said. “What we’ve said all along is that the players have really continued to play hard and get better. We’ve learned a great deal from this season. You don’t want to learn lessons by having that many losses, but it will make us very strong next year because some of the kids on the team are finally aware of what they’re capable of doing.”
While Backus said reaching the 200 win milestone never once entered her mind, she acknowledged that doing it on the road in a hostile environment at the University of Pennsylvania’s Palestra in Philadelphia after this season’s numerous tight losses was an enjoyable way to accomplish the feat. Yale beat Penn (12-12, 6-5) 75-63 Saturday to earn Backus career victory 200 as a college women’s basketball coach.
Recent performances have indicated a marked improvement for the Elis, who are now able to count on many scoring threats: Christina Phillips ’04, Lindsay Page ’05 and Tory Mauseth ’05. And while Backus has kept the team together without a consistent leader on the court, Backus vows the team will only see brighter days in the near future.
“I wish we had 20 more games this season,” Backus said. “For us, having a postseason tournament would be incredible. It’s taken way longer than anyone had hoped for, and there were stumbling blocks along the way, but I think the best is yet to come.”
Just Dartmouth (14-11, 8-4) and league powerhouse Harvard (20-4, 12-0) remain on Yale’s schedule when they visit the John J. Lee Amphitheater this upcoming weekend.