Yale entered last Saturday night’s home game against Penn under second -year head coach Allison Guth with an Ivy record of 2-7, while Penn stood at 8-0. But Yale stunned Penn, 61-48. IHO caught up with coach Guth after the game.
Ivy Hoops Online: After the Princeton loss on Friday night, did you have an indication that your team would step up to the extent that it did against the team which you characterize as the top of the Ivy?
Allison Guth: I believe in this team and our ability to compete at the highest level. The challenge we have faced this season is our ability to perform consistently to our potential. I thought that we had a very inspired focus at shootaround and that our team was prepared to play a poised game vs a very good Penn team.
IHO: Did there come a point early on in the game in which you felt that the team was playing at a higher level than all season?
AG: I absolutely loved the way our coverage looked in our 2-3 zone early. Our players were communicating well and moving to their assignments flight of ball the best we have all year. I also know that we are a team whose confidence builds as we score early. I believe Mary Ann Santucci set the tone in the way that she was able to score at the top of the arc with two early threes.
IHO: Please talk about the play of Jen Berkowitz, especially in the second half in crunchtime.
AG: Jen played fearlessly and with a sincere sense of determination. She has been a leader for us all years and absolutely delivered down the stretch. We wanted to expose Penn’s high hedge on the ball screen and she knew it was important to capitalize in the paint and at the free throw line.
IHO: Penn had 19 turnovers. Do you give special credit to your defensive schemes?
AG: We have found recent success in extending our pressure 94 feet with a focus of being opportunistic with forcing turnovers or taking seven to 10 seconds off the shot clock each possession. I believe our pressure both in the backcourt, and aggressiveness in the frontcourt, contributed to disrupting the offensive flow.
IHO: What impact did the game taking place on Alumni Night, with so many former players poised behind your bench in the final seconds of the game?
AG: I really credit the win to the effort and commitment of our team to play for our Yale women’s basketball family! It was genuinely so special to have our incredible alumni come back to support our young women. The alumni gave the pregame speech and literally moved our entire program! Our alumni are the reason our players played with passion and pride. We will continue to play with them constantly on top of mind and heart!
IHO: Did your phone light up after the game?
AG: Haha. Yes, I felt so fortunate to feel the support of family, friends, former players, and mentors who all are invested in Yale women’s basketball.
IHO: Did you hear from your mentor Doug Bruno, the DePaul coach?
AG: It was very special to have texts/phone call from coach (Chris) Gobrecht (current Air Force and former Yale head coach), coach Doug Bruno, and coach Joe McKeown (at Northwestern). They have all been such special mentors and are the reason I have this opportunity to lead our young women at Yale. I am constantly striving to make them proud.
IHO: How much of a recruiting tool is this program changing win?
AG: I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Mike McLaughlin and the success of the Penn women’s basketball program he has built. I am proud of our team for taking a step in the right direction in terms of the championship culture we want to build here at Yale. Recruiting is the lifeline to your program. I believe a prospective student-athlete who strives for a world-class experience as a student, as an athlete, and as a young woman, must consider Yale.