Women's Basketball Opens Up Season At Home Against Yale

Alyssa May
Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams:
Holy Cross (0-0, 0-0 PL) vs. Yale (0-0, 0-0 Ivy League)
Date: November 12, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: Hart Center (3,600), Worcester, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: Stretch Internet Radio; Jeremy Lechan, play-by-play; Listen here
Unofficial Live Statistics: Presto Sports Primetime
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 6-5
Last Meeting: Yale 66, Holy Cross 60; November 13, 2009; New Haven. Conn.

THE SERIES WITH YALE: This will be the 12th meeting between the Crusaders and Bulldogs. Holy Cross holds a 6-5 advantage in the all-time series as Yale enters the contest on a two-game win streak. Last season, Holy Cross held a 14-point lead but would go on to fall by a 66-60 final. The Crusaders had their last victory against Yale, a 66-59 win at the Lee Ampitheater on January 6, 2008. The Nov. 15, 2008 game was the first time Holy Cross lost to Yale at the Hart Center and just the second time coach Gibbons had lost to the Bulldogs in his 25-year career at the helm. Gibbons is now 4-3 against the Bulldogs while Holy Cross holds a 4-1 record all-time at home when Yale comes to town. Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht is now 3-1 when playing Holy Cross. She sustained her only loss against the Crusaders on Jan. 6, 2008. Yale has also been the team's first match-up in three of the last four seasons.

FOR OPENERS: Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 19-17 in its opening game of the season. This year will mark the 20th time the Crusaders have opened the season at home. The last time Holy Cross started the season at the Hart Center was in 2008 when they lost to Yale, 65-63. The last time the Crusaders won in their home opener was in 2006, when Holy Cross topped Yale, 68-56, on Nov. 10. In all, the Crusaders post an 12-7 advantage in home-openers. The team won its first home-opener on the Hart Center court in 1981, defeating Bryant. Since Bill Gibbons took over as head coach, the Crusaders stand at 16-9 in season openers. Over the last nine years, Holy Cross stands at 5-4 on opening day, defeating Massachusetts (68-42 in 2001-2002), St. Peter's (70-64, 2002-2003), Providence (68-48, 2004-2005), Northeastern (76-60, 2005-2006) and Yale (68-56, 2006-2007), while falling to St. Peter's (87-76, 2003-2004) , Vermont (54-45, 2007-2008) and most recently to Yale (65-63, 2008-2009 and 66-60, 2009-2010). Gibbons began his career with a five-game win streak on opening day from 1985-1990. The team comes into the contest having lost its last three openers, two against Yale and one against Vermont.

CRUSADERS PICKED FIFTH IN PRESEASON POLL: Holy Cross was picked to finish fifth in the 2010-2011 Patriot League preseason poll, receiving 42 votes. American was chosen to finish first, receiving nine first-place votes as senior forward Michelle Kirk was also voted Preseason Player of the Year. The Eagles earned a league-high 93 points and was followed closely behind by reigning Patriot League Champion, Lehigh, who received seven first place votes and 91 points. Navy was picked third with 70 points, while Army (59 points) and Holy Cross (42) were selected fourth and fifth respectively. Colgate and Lafayette tied for sixth place with 40 votes and Bucknell wrapped up the standings in eighth place with 31 points.

FREMEAU, MAY AND WARD NAMED 2010-2011 TEAM CAPTAINS: Seniors Whitney Fremeau (Manchester, N.H.) and Alyssa May (Oradell, N.J.) along with the lone junior listed on the roster, Meredith Ward (Westerly, R.I.) were named captains for the 2010-2011 season. Fremeau topped the team in rebounding last year and ranking 10th in the league as well with an average of 5.4 rebounds per game. She is also a threat not only on defense but on offense as well as she also posted a 12.3 scoring average, ranking seventh amongst league individuals and third on the team last season. She was named to the second team All-Patriot League for her efforts. May will be the veteran starting in the backcourt, as she returns as the team's best defensive player. As a junior, she averaged 22.1 minutes, 3.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Her 4.1 rebound average was second highest on the team. Ward is also listed among the veterans in the backcourt, as she moves from the point guard position to the shooting guard in her junior season. Ward saw action in all 31 games last season, averaging 26.8 minutes, 5.3 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. She ranked second on the team and ninth in the Patriot League with 72 assists, averaging 2.3 assists per game. Combined, the three scored 661 out of the 899 points posted by the team's returning letterwinners. They also pulled down 348 out of the 502 rebounds collected by this year's returners.

THE FROSH IMPACT: Coach Gibbons will put one of his largest freshman classes to the test right away as he puts his faith into two guards who will start the 2010-2011 season for the Crusaders; Alex Smith (Delran. N.J.) and Brisje Malone (Springfield, Mass.). Smith will take the reigns at the point for the team, as she played four varsity seasons on the Peddie School basketball team. Her high school team won 14-consecutive New Jersey state titles and 12 straight Mid-Atlantic Prep League titles as Smith was named team captain as a senior and a second team All-Prep selection that year as well. Malone will take over as the shooting guard, as she played four years of varsity high school basketball for Springfield Central in Springfield, Mass., captaining the team her senior season. Three other freshmen fill out the class as Kelly Hamner (Manassas, Va.), Kristen Fuery (Dresher, Pa.) and Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) will all be big contributors to the team this season as well. Hamner will come off the bench to play the 2 or 3 position as she played four years of varsity basketball at Osbourn Park High School where she captained her squad as a junior and senior. She also earned Washington Post All-Area honors and was a two-time first team All-District selection. Ganser will work her way into a major role in the frontcourt as she played for Needham High School and was a three-time team MVP. She averaged 24.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game as a senior, finishing her career with over 1,500 points. Fuery can play either as a forward or guard and was a four-year varsity member of the Upper Dublin High School basketball team. She led the team in scoring as a sophomore, junior and senior, finishing her career with 1,448 points.

ALL-AROUND AMY: Rounding out the team's starting five will be sophomore Amy Lepley (Norfolk, Mass.) who returns to play the forward position for the Crusaders. Lepley, who was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie team last season after playing a full season of basketball for the first time since her junior year in high school, averaged 23.7 minutes, 6.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last season. Lepley also claimed six Patriot League Rookie of the Week awards and recorded a team-best two double-doubles. The Massachusetts native also finished the season with a 44.2 field goal percentage, a team-high, and Led the team in rebounding in four contests, including a season-high 10 rebounds twice.

WELCOME (BACK) TO WORCESTER: There will be two new faces handling front office duties for the 2010-2011 Crusader basketball squad, assistant coaches Chante Bonds and Kristin Drabyn. Bonds spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach for the Fairleigh Dickinson University women's basketball team. In addition to her assistant coaching responsibilities at FDU, Bonds scheduled the team's travel arrangements, worked with the strength and conditioning program and recruited on the east coast and Canada. She was a four-year letter winner on the Bentley women's basketball team, graduating in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in Informational Design and Corporate Communication. Drabyn spent the previous two seasons as a graduate assistant coach for the women's basketball team at Texas Tech. While at Texas Tech, Drabyn assisted in the everyday operations of the women's basketball program, including serving as the video coordinator. Drabyn was also a four-year member of the University of Maryland Baltimore County women's basketball team. She graduated as the school's all-time record holder in free throw percentage (90%) and in made three pointers (169). She co-captained the squad as a senior and was an All-Conference selection in 2008. In 2007, UMBC was the America East Tournament champions, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Drabyn was also named the America East Sportsmanship winner in 2007. A 2008 graduate of UMBC with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Communications and Exercise Physiology, Drabyn earned her master's degree in Sport Management from Texas Tech in 2010. A familiar face will also work with the women's basketball team this season as former Holy Cross basketball standout, Brittany Keil, rejoins the Crusader family as the team's strength and conditioning coach. Keil will also work directly with the Crusader men's basketball, men's and women's lacrosse, baseball, softball, field hockey, volleyball, women's tennis, cross country and track & field squads.

RETURNING TO GLORY: The 2010-2011 season will be the first instance under Gibbons' tutelage that a player on the roster has not participated in the NCAA Tournament. The last time a Holy Cross team made the NCAA Tournament was at the end of the 2006-2007 season. Holy Cross has played in the Big Dance 12 times, posting a 1-12 all-time record. It received a team-best seventh seeding in 1985 and played as the 16th seed in its last appearance, 2007. The Crusaders have also participated in the WNIT, playing in the 2002 season. 

PATRIOT LEAGUE DOMINANCE: Despite its preseason ranking, the Holy Cross women's basketball team has its eyes set back on the top spot amongst the Patriot League's eight teams. Since its inaugural season back in 1991, the team has posted 237 league victories and just 63 losses. It has made 20 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament, boasting 11 championships and a 38-9 all-time record. The team was seeded fifth in the tournament last season, a program low, but proved that it could not be counted out, topping Army, 57-53 in the quarterfinal round before falling to the 2010 champion, Lehigh, in the semifinals. The Crusaders are most successful against Colgate as they have mounted a 41-3 all-time record against the Raiders. The team also boasts a 43-8 record against Lafayette. Army and American have given Holy Cross the most trouble, as the two have combined for 24 of the 63 wins against the Crusaders. Lehigh has put up 11 wins against Holy Cross as well.

RENEWING OLD RIVALRIES: Fordham, a former Patriot League foe, Massachusetts, an in-state rival, and Quinnipiac reenter the Crusaders' slate this season. The Crusaders and Rams have played in a total 37 contests, dating back to the 1983 season. Holy Cross holds the 31-6 all-time edge over Fordham, last earning a 70-62 victory in 2003. Massachusetts and Holy Cross have faced off 16 times in program history and will vie for the lead in the all-time series as it is tied at 8-8. The Minutewomen own a three game win-streak against Holy Cross, however, winning the last meeting 77-46 in 2007. The Crusaders will play on the Bobcats' home court this season as the teams have met four times in program history. The all-time series is notched at 2-2 with Holy Cross winning the first two and then Quinnipiac taking the last two competitions.

AND STARTING NEW ONES: Holy Cross will also face two brand new opponents this season, East Tennessee State and North Carolina A&T. The Crusaders will play these two teams in its only tournament of the season, the Marriott Cavalier Classic, hosted by Virginia. The two teams will definitely present a challenge for Holy Cross, as ETSU boasted an overall record of 23-9 last season and an 18-2 Atlantic Sun record. North Carolina A&T went 23-11 overall, but was also dominant in their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, finishing with a 14-2 league record.

NEXT UP FOR THE CRUSADERS: On Sunday, Nov. 14, Holy Cross will travel to play the reigning National Champions and No. 1 ranked Connecticut Huskies. The game will serve as the Huskies season opener as they will raise their championship banners prior to the 2:00 p.m. tip off with the Crusaders at the Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn.

HEAD COACH BILL GIBBONS: 26th SEASON: Bill Gibbons is entering his 26th season at the helm of the Holy Cross women's basketball program in 2010-2011. His quarter-century pledge to the team has made a major impact on all aspects of the women's basketball world and especially in the surrounding community. On April 30, 2009, Gibbons received the prestigious Paul N. Johnson Award, given to a member of the Worcester community who has greatly contributed to Worcester area basketball. With his service, the name Gibbons has become a fixture in the realm of women's basketball. He has led the Crusaders to nine Patriot League Championships in the last 15 years. He has also made 12 postseason appearances (11 NCAA Tournaments and one WNIT) in his 25 years as head coach. With sixteen 20-win seasons under his belt, Gibbons has cemented himself and the women's basketball program as one of the best in the East. The sixth coach of the women's program at Holy Cross, Gibbons has enjoyed the longest tenure in the position. He has led the Holy Cross women's basketball program to more victories than any other coach, and is the winningest coach in Holy Cross Basketball history. With his 358th victory, he surpassed George Blaney (357 wins as head coach of the Holy Cross men's basketball program), who had hired him to be his assistant coach in 1981. Now with more than 450 wins under his belt, Gibbons is the second-winningest coach in Holy Cross Athletics history, behind legendary baseball coach Jack Barry, who totaled 616 wins from 1921-1960. In 2007, Gibbons was named the assistant women's basketball coach for Team U.S.A. competing in the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During the five-day basketball tournament made up of eight international basketball teams, Gibbons' team took home the gold medal, winning the championship game on July 24. In 2006, Gibbons was named as a Russell Athletic / WBCA Victory Club Award recipient. The Russell Athletic / WBCA Victory Club Award is presented to each WBCA member head coach who achieves career wins of 200, 300, 400 and 500. Gibbons made his way onto the prestigious list with a 70-53 win over Army on January 12, 2005. Entering the 2010-2011 season, Gibbons ranks 25th on the list of winningest active Division I coaches. In 2003, he was inducted into the New England College Basketball Hall of Fame at the University of Rhode Island. The six-time Patriot League Coach of the Year has maintained the winning tradition which he inherited 26 years ago. The undaunted leader has produced teams that have tangled competitively with some of the nation's best. In recent years, Gibbons' squads have been tested by Connecticut, Louisiana Tech, Rutgers, Duke, DePaul, Arizona, Auburn, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Penn State, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Tulane, Virginia and Wisconsin. He has included top 25 teams in the Crusaders' competitive schedule each year and has subsequently built the program's reputation nationally. Attracting outstanding student-athletes throughout the country, Gibbons and his staff have vastly improved the college's recruiting efforts during his tenure. As the women's collegiate game has changed throughout the country in recent years, so has women's hoops on Mount St. James. Now one of the premiere teams on campus, the Crusader basketball team has drawn record crowds at the Hart Center, including the 4,000 fans who attended the contest against the Connecticut Huskies in January 2000, the first sellout at the Hart Center for women's basketball. The Crusaders also drew more than 3,000 fans to the Hart Center when they competed against national runner-up, Duke, in 2006. Gibbons is a respected member of the community and has appeared as a resident coach and lecturer at many local basketball camps. During the summer, he serves as the director of the Holy Cross Girls' Basketball Camp, one of the country's largest and most successful girls' summer camps, attracting more than 500 girls, ages 9-17. A Worcester native, Gibbons graduated from Clark University in 1981. He then went on to earn a master's degree in business administration from Clark while serving as an assistant coach for the Holy Cross men's basketball team. Gibbons and his wife, Lisa, make their home in Worcester. They have two sons, William Robert and Robert Charles.

Record: 0-0 Affiliation: Ivy League

HEAD COACH: Head coach Chris Gobrecht enters her sixth season at the helm of the Yale women's basketball team and her 31st year of coaching Division I basketball programs. Last year she led her team to an 13-15 record, and an 8-6 record in the Ivy League, finishing in fourth place. In all, she has collected 48 wins and 90 losses against Ivy League opponents. In her 31-year career, Gobrecht has recorded 473 wins and 401 losses as she is 29th on the list of NCAA Division I winningest active coaches (categorized by victories).

2010-2011 SQUAD: The Yale women's basketball team was picked to finish fourth in the Ivy League for the second straight season in 2010-2011. The squad returns four starters, including junior Michelle Cashen, seniors Mady Gobrecht and Yoyo Greenfield and sophomore Megan Vasquez. Greenfield will captain the 2010-2011 squad as she averaged 9.6 points per game last season. The team lost one starter as sophomore Allie Messimer will step up to play that role as she played in all 28 games last season off the bench, averaging 4.4 points. Vasquez led the squad with an 11.5 scoring average last season, while Cashen posted the highest rebounding average, bringing down 6.9 rebounds per game. Gobrecht followed with a 6.1 rebounding average while also putting up 8.6 points per game. Four freshmen don the 2010-2011 roster as well including center Zenab Keita, forward Janna Graf, forward/guard Alexandra Osbourn-Jones and guard Amanda Tyson.