Columbia, Cornell Visit On Senior Weekend

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Reggie Willhite. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The final home weekend of the regular season brings visits from Columbia and Cornell to the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Tipoff on both Friday and Saturday night is 7 p.m. Seniors Rhett Anderson, Brian Katz, Greg Mangano and Reggie Willhite will be honored on Saturday. Friday's game against Columbia will be televised by the YES Network. Chris Shearn will handle the play-by-play and Tim Capstraw provides analysis.

The Bulldogs (17-7, 7-3 Ivy) enter the weekend in third place in the Ivy League, two games behind Harvard (9-1) and a half-game in back of Penn (7-2). Yale is 9-1 in the friendly confines of Lee Amphitheater, outscoring their opponents by nearly 12 points per game and outrebounding them by nearly 11. A pair of victories would give the Bulldogs their most home victories in a season since the 1989-90 team went 11-1. The 17 overall victories are the most since the 2001-02 team won 21. With four games remaining, Yale has a chance to reach the 20-win mark for the sixth time in school history. Mangano enters his final home weekend leading the Ivy League in scoring (18.4 ppg.), rebounding (9.9 rpg.) and blocks (58). He has been at his best against the most challenging opponents. He had 20 points and 12 rebounds at Wake Forest, 26 points and 15 rebounds at Florida and averaged 19.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two games against Harvard. In addition, he averaged 21.5 points and 11 rebounds in Yale's home sweep of Penn and Princeton.

LEAGUE LEADERS

Overall, Yale leads the Ivy League in scoring (70.2 ppg.) and rebounding margin (+5.5). The Bulldogs are second in scoring margin (+4.8) and blocked shots (102). In Ivy only games, Yale is second in field goal percentage defense (.422).

DARTMOUTH-HARVARD WEEKEND NOTES

  Yale was 30-of-33 from the free throw line in the win over the Big Green. Austin Morgan was 12-for-12 against Dartmouth and 17-of-18 in the two games. For the year, he is shooting 89.7 percent, which is 10th in the nation.

• The 30 free throws made were the most in a game this season for the Bulldogs and the most since they made 32 last year against Army. The 33 attempts were the third most in a game this season. Yale has shot at least 30 free throws in four games this year.

•  Jesse Pritchard started both games, the first two starts of his career. He started in place of Michael Grace, who has been limited since suffering an injury in the game at Columbia.

•  The Bulldogs have now won 11 of the last 12 meetings with Dartmouth.

•  The win over Dartmouth was the 98th Ivy League victory for head coach James Jones.

SCOUTING COLUMBIA

The Lions (14-12, 3-7 Ivy) have been involved in a number of close games this season. Five of their seven leagues losses have been by five points or fewer, including 59-58 to Yale on Feb. 11. Brian Barbour (15.2 ppg.) is fourth in the Ivy League in scoring and Mark Cisco (7.2 rpg.) is sixth in rebounding.

SCOUTING CORNELL

The Big Red (10-14, 5-5 Ivy) is 9-2 at home but just 1-12 on the road. Cornell, which plays at Brown on Friday, is led in scoring by Drew Ferry (11.5 ppg.) and Chris Wroblewski (10.8 ppg.). It was Johnathan Gray, though, who hurt the Bulldogs in the first meeting, an 85-84 overtime win for the Big Red on Feb. 10. Gray scored a career-high 29 points.

HISTORY LESSONS

The Bulldogs are looking to sweep the season series from Columbia for the third straight year. Yale rallied from a 21-point second-half deficit to win the first meeting in New York. It was the third largest second-half comeback in Ivy League history.

The Bulldogs have won eight of the last 10 meetings with Cornell at Lee Amphitheater.

BULLDOGS VISIT CHILDREN AT SMILOW CANCER HOSPITAL

The Bulldogs visited with children at the Smilow Cancer Hospital At Yale-New Haven on Jan. 5. "It was a great experience to go and visit some kids who possess so much courage and have overcome more adversity at a young age than most people have to deal with in a lifetime," said junior Austin Morgan. The players and coaches spent nearly two hours with the children. Some stayed in the activity room and did arts and crafts. Sam Martin played one-on-one with a four-year-old in a play room. Others went room to room to say hello and small talk with patients. "The visit really helped put things in perspective," Martin said. "One boy's dad thanked me for spending time with his son because it was the first time he had come out to play in days. He also mentioned that his son had since been glued to SportsCenter hoping to see the Bulldogs. I didn't realize one visit could mean so much, but I'm happy it did." The visit left a lasting impression on all who attended. "I think I can speak for all who visited the hospital that we learned from and cherished the time those children afforded to us, not the other way around," Morgan said. "They made our day."

WILLHITE, MORGAN EARN ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT HONORS

Two Yale players have earned Capital One Academic All-District I honors. Senior Reggie Willhite and junior Austin Morgan were both named to the first team. Willhite is a political science major, while Morgan is an architecture major. Both players have started all 20 games for the Bulldogs. First-team Academic All-District honorees advance to the Capital One Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.

MANGANO PLAYS FOR TEAM USA AT WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES

Greg Mangano was a part of the 12-player roster that represented the United States in the 2011 World University Games in August in Shenzhen, China. In six games during the tournament, Mangano averaged 3.2 points and 3.2 rebounds. His top performance came against Mexico when he scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds. He added seven points, three rebounds and two blocks in the win over Finland. The team was coached by Purdue's Matt Painter. Joining Mangano on the Team USA roster were: Tim Abromaitis (Notre Dame); Marcus Denmon (Missouri); Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh); Draymond Green (Michigan State); JaMychal Green (Alabama); Scoop Jardine (Syracuse); John Jenkins (Vanderbilt); Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara); Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota); Ray McCallum (Detroit Mercy); and Darius Miller (Kentucky).

KREISBERG COMPETES AT U20 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Jeremiah Kreisberg played for Israel at the Under-20 European Championships in July in in Sarajevo, Bosnia. He appeared in six games (he missed the last two games with a minor injury) and averaged 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds, while averaging nearly 30 minutes per game. He led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring. Kreisberg headed to Tel-Aviv in June, spent three weeks training with the Israel team and took part in the team's preparation tour through Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.

CHINA TRIP

Yale got a bit of a head start on the 2011-12 season. The Bulldogs spent 10 days in China last May and played four games, winning three, including a victory over a Chinese professional team. The trip allowed the Bulldogs to bond as a team and work on some things for the upcoming season.

HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION

Mangano and Kreisberg weren't the only players to have interesting off seasons. Austin Morgan spent two months in Mauritius, an island nation off southeast coast of Africa, as an Eli-Africa fellow. He helped run an after school program for local children, teaching a class on health and fitness. Sam Martin was in Washington, D.C., interning for Senator Jack Reed of his home state of Rhode Island. Freshman Armani Cotton founded DOSA (Division One Student Athlete) Basketball Clinic. After gaining approval from the NCAA and the Ivy League, Cotton ran two week-long clinics in New York City and three in Lake Naomi, Pa. Cotton created the program in an attempt to deflate the idea that being valedictorian and a star athlete are mutually exclusive. DOSA focuses on the values of hard work and discipline as well as basketball IQ and Division I skills in order to challenge campers intellectually and physically.

WILLHITE TRAINS WITH LAETTNER, HILL

Reggie Willhite trained with former Duke stars Christian Laettner and Grant Hill earlier this fall. Willhite's father heard an interview with Laettner on the radio. Laettner mentioned he was looking for some Division I players on the East Coast to train. Willhite's father reached out to Laettner, who agreed to train Willhite. Reggie spent two weekends working out with Laettner and Hill. Hill's father is legendary Yale football player Calvin Hill.

YALE PICKED SECOND IVY LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL

Yale was picked second, along with Princeton, by the select panel of 17 Ivy media representatives who voted in the official Ivy League preseason media poll. The Bulldogs received one first-place vote and 103 points. Harvard is the league favorite with 16 first-place votes and 135 points. Princeton also had 103 points followed by Penn (90), Brown (62), Cornell (52), Columbia (50) and Dartmouth (17).

LEE AMPHITHEATER FEATURED IN ESPN THE MAGAZINE

The John J. Lee Amphitheater, the home of Yale Basketball, was featured in ESPN The Magazine's College Basketball preview issue. The title of the feature is Grand Stands, the game marches on, but a dwindling number of college basketball cathedrals can still take us back to when it all began.

The Palestra in Philadelphia, Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse and Fordham's Rose Hill Gymnasium were the only other venues selected.

 "To walk through these gates and settle into these seats is to remember the game's roots," wrote LaRue Cook. "Because sometimes sports aren't about results – they're about beauty and style and being connected to something bigger than the game."

Lee Amphitheater sits inside historic Payne Whitney Gym, which was constructed in 1931 under the direction of John Russell Pope. Yale's first basketball game was played there on Dec. 18, 1932, and it has been the home of the Bulldogs ever since.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity