December 5, 2012

Game Day Central: Yale Travels To Bryant Wednesday

Battle Of Bulldogs In Rhode Island

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - It's the battle of the Bulldogs when Yale plays at Bryant on Wednesday night. Tipoff at the Chace Center is slated for 7 p.m.

Yale (2-6) hasn't played since a 60-51 loss to Hartford last Thursday night. The five-day layoff probably came at a good time for Yale, which has had a busy beginning to the season. The Bulldogs already have made long bus trips to Philadelphia to play Saint Joseph's and Burlington, Vt., to play at Vermont. Yale also had three games in three days in Indiana as part of the 2012 NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. In its last three games, Yale has held its opponents to 42.4 percent shooting from the field. The young Bulldogs, though, are a work in progress on the offensive end. Yale is averaging just 59 points, while shooting 37.3 percent from the field on the season. Austin Morgan (12.8 ppg.) and freshman Justin Sears (10.4 ppg.) lead the team in scoring. Sears (6.8 rpg.) also is sixth in the Ivy League in rebounding. Thirty of his rebounds have come on the offensive end, which is tied for the most in the league. Morgan has been struggling from the field recently (8-for-40, .200 over his last four games) but has been getting to the free throw line to get his points. In the last two games, he is 17 of 18 from the foul line. Morgan is third in the Ivy League in free throw percentage on the season. Last year, he set a single-season school record with a .900 free throw percentage, which was fifth in the nation.

WHO'S HOT

•  Sam Martin has scored in double figures in each of the last two games. Against Hartford, he was 4-of-5 from three-point range en route to scoring a season-high 12 points. In the win over Army, Martin's three-pointer put the Bulldogs ahead for good, 84-83, in the final minute. On the season, Martin is shooting 50 percent (11-of-22) from three-point range.

•  Armani Cotton matched his career-high with six rebounds against Hartford.

HOMECOMING FOR MARTIN

Sam Martin is a West Warwick, R.I., native and his mother is a Bryant graduate. Two years ago at Bryant, Martin made two big three-pointers to help Yale pull away in a 75-53 win. 

HISTORY LESSONS

Yale and Bryant are playing for the fifth time. Yale has won three straight in the series, including a 76-59 win last year in New Haven. The score was tied at 27 at halftime, but Yale outscored Bryant 49-32 in the second half. Austin Morgan and Brandon Sherrod each scored 10 points for the Bulldogs. Sherrod was 4-of-4 from the field and added four rebounds in only 12 minutes off the bench. Yale leads the all-time series 3-1.

SCOUTING BRYANT

After opening the season with losses to No. 1 Indiana and Providence, Bryant has rolled off four straight victories, including an impressive 56-54 victory at Boston College. Bryant also has a 68-61 win over Brown on its resume. Dyami Starks (16.5 ppg.), Alex Francis (15.3 ppg.) and Frankie Dobbs (13.2 ppg.) all average double figures in scoring. There are a couple of familiar faces on the Bryant sidelines. Tim O'Shea, who is in his fifth year as head coach, spent two years as an assistant coach at Yale under Dick Kuchen. In addition, assistant coach Happy Dobbs is a former Brown head coach. Dobbs' son Frankie is the team's third-leading scorer.

YALE PICKED SIXTH IN PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

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.

2012-13 IVY LEAGUE MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

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

PRESEASON HONORS

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, finished fifth in the nation and set a school record with a .900 free throw percentage. 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.).

MEET THE NEWCOMERS

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.

2012-13 SCHEDULE NOTES

•  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 played in the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The first game was at Saint Joseph, the Atlantic 10 preseason favorite. The Bulldogs then headed 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.

WILLHITE DRAFTED IN 5TH ROUNF OF NBA D-LEAGUE DRAFT

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

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