Life is about to get a lot tougher for the women’s basketball team.
This Friday the Bulldogs (2–0) travel to Poughkeepsie to face Marist, a team that lost its season opener to Villanova on Wednesday. But the real challenge for the Elis is what comes after Marist with a game against No. 1-ranked Baylor this Tuesday, while most of Yale is home basking in the calm of Thanksgiving break. Going into these matches, the team is increasingly relying on players who did not see as much court time last year and the new freshmen to contribute to its success.
“We have a lot of people playing a lot of minutes that weren’t playing a year ago,” said head coach Chris Gobrecht.
While the Bulldogs returned four starters from last year’s team, this season a greater depth of players are playing integral roles on the team. Eleven of the 12 players on the roster are playing more than 10 minutes per game.
Going into the game against Marist, the Bulldogs have plenty of reasons for confidence, Gobrecht said. They followed up their season-opening victory against Holy Cross with an 80–51 thrashing of an overmatched Fairleigh Dickinson. Especially impressive has been the group’s chemistry this early in the season, and Gobrecht said the team’s high level of play in its opening matches does not surprise her.
“[The team’s strength is] not a surprise, its just nice to see,” she said. “We’re on the way to a very good offensive chemistry right now.”
The Bulldogs are averaging 78 points per game. Guard Megan Vasquez ’13 leads the team with an average of 17 points per game and captain Michelle Cashen ’12 comes in next at 13.5. Three other team members have also been scoring nine or more points per game,
Everyone on the team will need to bring her best game if the Bulldogs hope to hold their own against Baylor, a school that boasts All-American center Brittney Griner.
Yale rotates a number of defenders, including Cashen, Zenab Keita ’14 and Arrice Bryant ’15, against opposing teams’ post players, and the 6’8” Griner will challenge each of them.
Guard Aarica West ’14 acknowledged that the team, whose tallest players are Keita and Bryant at 6’2”, is undersized and may have trouble matching up against taller opponents. Gobrecht said she agreed, but she added that the team will aim to move the ball quickly in order to limit the Bears’ height advantage.
“We’re going to try not to let it turn into a game where [height] is a deciding factor,” Gobrecht said. “We’re going to try to generate a lot of movement and really push the ball in transition.”
After Baylor, the Bulldogs continue their Texas swing with games against Houston and Texas-Pan American next week before concluding their string of road games at Delaware on Dec. 5.