Not many students can take final exams with their weaker hand. But guard Roxy Barahman ’20 did just that on her way to becoming a standout player on the Yale women’s basketball team.
In just her second season in a Yale uniform, Barahman has broken out as one of the Bulldogs’ most consistent scoring threats and playmakers. The Calabasas, California native is averaging 13.6 points and 3.8 assists per game, the latter of which is the highest on the team. With dazzling displays of ballhandling and acrobatic finishes around the basket, Barahman has captivated Ivy League fans throughout the season with her exciting style of play.
However, the sophomore guard’s successes this season came on the heels of early-career struggles. During her first year in New Haven, Barahman suffered a freak accident in which she broke a bone in her right hand. As a result of the injury, Barahman was sidelined for 10 games last season. Fortunately, the injury did not require surgical intervention, and she used the setback as motivation, tweaking her game and adjusting to the life of a southpaw.
“If anything, I think it made me work harder to stay in shape and get back to where I was going into Ivy play last year,” Barahman said. “It certainly wasn’t easy, but I managed to keep up with my cardio by running a mile a day, even if that meant using the hotel gyms on our away trips. I also worked a lot on my left hand in the meantime. Academically speaking, it was certainly hard having to take my finals left handed, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.”
The fruits of Barahman’s labor are certainly on full display. She has started in nearly every game this season and emerged as a leader on which the team can rely. Her scoring average of 13.6 points per game this season ranks eighth in the Ancient Eight and is an immense jump from her 4.7 average the previous season.
From the outset, Barahman has also shown a special knack for rebounding the ball. Among all guards in the conference, Barahman ranks fifth with an average of 4.3 boards per game. Her attitude on the court has not escaped the notice of head coach Allison Guth.
“When I describe Roxy’s character on the floor I use the word ‘moxie’ because she is a force and plays with determination and confidence,” Guth said. “That word would most be translated to this generation with ‘swagger.’ The kid just has a sincere swagger about the way she competes. She is absolutely entertaining to watch, and from a coaching stand point, someone I trust with the ball in her hands to produce when we need a bucket.”
Barahman’s style of play is a mix of tenacity, clutchness and flair. In a Feb. 23 home game against Cornell, she ripped the ball away from Cornell guard Dylan Higgins, took the ball up the court by herself and dazed a defender with a smooth behind the back move leading to an open right-handed layup. The play epitomized the moxie that has allowed Barahman to establish herself among the Ivy League’s top point guards.
Growing up in the Los Angeles area, Barahman looked up to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant at a young age and credits him as the reason she fell in love with the sport. Now, her source of basketball inspiration has shifted to Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, who is known for his mesmerizing ball-handling skills and finishes at the rim. Barahman said she constantly watches his highlights and models her own game after him. However, Barahman’s biggest credits go to her parents, who encouraged her to play sports at an early age.
“Most importantly, I would have to thank my parents for putting me in almost every sport as a child and allowing me to pursue basketball,” Barahman said. “I certainly look up to them the most.”
Barahman has made it evident that her game is more than just visual pizzazz. The characteristic self-assurance of Bryant and Irving is also a clear facet of Barahman’s style as well. She never shies away from big moments. Down the stretch of numerous contests, she has not hesitated to take crucial game-determining shots, and her team has relied on her to score and provide a spark to offensive runs.
Most notably, when the team needed Barahman to lead them to the Ivy League Tournament, she delivered. Down 15 points in the third quarter against Columbia on Senior Night two weekends ago, the Elis’ hopes of heading to the Palestra next week to compete for a spot in March Madness were dwindling. After a total group effort from the Bulldogs gave them life in the fourth quarter and tied the game with 2:43 remaining on the clock, Barahman closed the deal. When the team put the ball in her hands, Barahman hit two of the biggest pull-up jumpers of her young career to push the Bulldogs ahead. With a huge comeback victory secured, the Elis clinched their spot in this weekend’s Ivy Tournament.
“Beyond her basketball skills, she is outgoing, hilarious and fun to be around,” forward Megan Gorman ’20 said. “She is confident both on and off the court and that is apparent in how she attacks both basketball and her life in general. Roxy is a great person, teammate and friend who I am lucky to know.”
Barahman’s rise as the team’s floor general has stemmed from her desire to continue growing as a basketball player. According to Guth, the coaching staff challenged Barahman this season to become more vocal on the floor and be a stopper on the defensive end, facets of the game in which she has excelled.
Facing the challenge, Barahman said her confidence on the floor has only grown.
“I have grown a lot as a vocal leader, especially as a point guard,” Barahman said. “Last year I was struggling to find my voice, but this year I certainly think I have found that and have been able to lead my team on the floor. My teammates really trust me to run the offense and that helps a lot with my confidence.”
Barahman and the Bulldogs will take on Princeton in the first round of the Ivy League Tournament on Saturday.
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