Gameday Central: Bulldogs Head To Philly To Battle Saint Joseph's

Javier Duren (Ron Waite photo)
Javier Duren (Ron Waite photo)

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Game Part Of NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale (0-1) has little time to recover from Saturday's heartbreaking 85-82 overtime loss to Sacred Heart in the Connecticut 6 Classic at the University of Hartford. Perhaps a quick turnaround will benefit the Bulldogs, who travel to Philadelphia to face Saint Joseph's on Monday at 7 p.m.

The game is part of the 2012 NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Yale plays the Hawks and then has three games in the Evansville subregional starting Friday. Austin Morgan had a big game in the opener, scoring a career-high 28 points. He was 7-of-12 from the field and 6-of-11 from three-point range. Morgan is the team's leading returning scorer after averaging 11.8 points last year. Freshman Justin Sears had a sparkling debut, scoring 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 27 minutes against Sacred Heart. As expected, the Bulldogs featured a more balanced attack than last year. Two-time first team All-Ivy selection Greg Mangano and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Reggie Willhite both have graduated from last year's Yale team that won 19 games and advanced to post-season play ( Tournament) for only the fifth time in school history. The two combined to take nearly half of the team's shots a year ago. All 10 players that saw action against Sacred Heart scored.


Yale and Saint Joseph's are playing for the first time. The Bulldogs are playing a team from the Atlantic 10 for the second straight year. Yale knocked off Rhode Island 68-65 last December.


Saint Joseph's, which is playing its season opener, was chosen as the preseason favorite in the Atlantic 10, earning 11 first-place votes from the conference's head coaches and media. The Hawks received 26 votes in the AP Preseason Poll and two votes in the USA Today Poll. Saint Joseph's returns all five starters, and its entire squad, from last season's 20-14 team which earned a bid to the NIT. Saint Joseph's is a regional host for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Hawks move on to the championship round at the Barclays Center, facing Notre Dame on November 16 and will then play either BYU or Florida State on November 17. Phil Martelli is the longest tenured head coach in the Atlantic 10, entering his 18th season at Saint Joseph's. He is the Hawks' all-time leader in career victories with his 320-223 record.


The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic ( is one of the most prestigious early-season college basketball tournaments. Twelve schools will compete in the event, with four of those teams serving as regional hosts. Regional round action takes place November 9-13, 2012 with the four hosts advancing to the championship rounds on November 16-17, 2012 at the newBarclaysCenter inBrooklyn,New York. The remainder of the field will participate in a round-robin series at one of two sub host sites. A nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society ( and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (, the Coaches vs. Cancer program ( empowers basketball coaches, their teams, and local communities to make a difference in the fight against cancer.


The Bulldogs have finished fourth or better in the Ivy League in each of the last 12 years. That didn't earn Yale much respect in the preseason Ivy League media poll, which projected a sixth-place finish for the Bulldogs. Yale, though, has a history of proving the prognosticators wrong. In five of the last seven years, the Bulldogs have finished higher than projected. Princeton is the near unanimous favorite to win the league. The Tigers received 16 of the 17 first-place votes. Defending champion Harvard was picked second followed by Columbia, Cornell and Penn. Brown and Dartmouth round out the poll.



First-Place Votes in Parentheses

Rank       School............................................ Points

1.             Princeton (16)..................................... 134

2.             Harvard (1)......................................... 109

3.             Columbia.............................................. 90

4.             Cornell................................................. 80

5.             Penn.................................................... 74

6.             Yale...................................................... 55

7.             Brown.................................................. 50

8.             Dartmouth........................................... 20 


Senior Austin Morgan has earned a couple of preseason honors. He was named first team All-League by the Blue Ribbon College Yearbook and received second team recognition from College Sports Madness and Lindy's. Morgan, a two-year starter, is seventh all-time at Yale with 139 career three-pointers. Last year, he finished fifth in the nation and set a school record with a .900 free throw percentage. In addition, he finished ninth in the Ivy League in scoring (11.8 ppg.), fifth in three-point field goal percentage (.386) and sixth in three-point field goals made (2.1 per game). His 61 three-pointers tied for the fourth most in a season in school history.

Junior Jeremiah Kreisberg was named to the preseason third team by College Sports Madness. Kreisberg has started 47 games in his first two seasons. Last year, he started all 29 games and finished third on the team in rebounding (5.1 rpg.) and fourth in scoring (7.7 ppg.).


The 2012-13 Yale roster features four freshmen. Khaliq Bedart-Ghani (Inglewood, CA), Jack Montague (Brentwood, TN), Justin Sears (Plainfield, NJ) and Nick Victor (Dallas, TX) all bring strong credentials. Bedart-Ghani led Loyola High School in California in rebounding and blocks as a senior last winter. Montague was the district, region and county most valuable player as a senior at Brentwood High School. He averaged 17.0 points and seven assists and scored more than 1,200 career points. Sears earned first team all-state, all-area and all-county honors as a senior at Plainfield High School in New Jersey. He scored 1,048 points and grabbed 1,063 rebounds in his career to become only the second player in school history to score over 1,000 points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds. He helped lead Plainfield to two New Jersey Tournament of Champion title games where it lost to national power St. Anthony's both times. Victor spent one year at the Winchendon School and earned NEPSAC honorable mention recognition. At Lovejoy High School in Dallas, Texas, he was the 2010 District most valuable player.


•  The Bulldogs don't play their first home game until Saturday, Nov. 24 against Army at 2 p.m. That is the first of 12 games in the friendly confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

•  Yale will be playing in the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The first game will be next Monday at Saint Joseph, the Atlantic 10 preseason favorite. The Bulldogs then head to Evansville, Ind., for three games, against Evansville, Buffalo and Western Illinois.

•  New England rival New Hampshire is on the schedule for the first time since 1998. The Bulldogs meet the Wildcats on Dec. 8 in Durham, N.H.

•  Yale faces a very challeging three-game road trip right after Christmas. The Bulldogs travel to Nevada, Saint Mary's and Iowa State. The trip to Nevada is a homecoming for Reno native Austin Morgan, while the trip to Iowa State is a homecoming for Ames, Iowa, native Jesse Pritchard.

•  The biggest test of the season, though, may come in Lee Amphitheater when preseason No. 10 Florida visits on Jan. 6. The Gators return three starters from a squad that went 26-11 and fell one game shy of the Final Four last year.

•  The Florida game is one of two in the Amphitheater that will be nationally televised. The NBC Sports Network will be in town for the game with the Gators, while CBS Sports Television will show the home game with Harvard on Feb. 23.

•  Yale kicks off Ivy League play on Jan. 19 at Brown. Five of the first six Ivy games will be on the road.


   Reggie Willhite, the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year last year as a senior at Yale, was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NBA Development League Draft on Nov. 2. Willhite was selected by the Reno Bighorns with the fifth pick in the fifth round. He was the 70th player chosen overall. Willhite becomes the second Yale player to be drafted by a D-League team. Alex Zampier '10 was chosen in the seventh round of the 2012 draft by the New Mexico Thunderbirds. Willhite enjoyed an outstanding career for the Bulldogs. His 132 career steals are the seventh most in school history. As a senior, he earned second team All-Ivy recognition, set a single-season school record with 65 steals and was 17th in the nation in steals (2.24 per game). Willhite joins a long list of players that have earned professional opportunities during James Jones' tenure as the head coach at Yale. Ted Smith (England), Matt Minoff (Israel), Paul Vitelli (Italy), Dominick Martin (Spain), Matt Kyle (Portugal), Caleb Holmes (Iceland), Ross Morin (Switzerland), Eric Flato (England), Greg Mangano (Turkey) and Edwin Draughan (France) have all played overseas. Zampier and Neil Yanke (tryout with Los Angeles Lakers) both had opportunities in the United States.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity