Game Day Central: Bulldogs Visit New Hampshire Saturday

Matt Townsend. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Matt Townsend. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Yale Coming Off Last-Second Win Over Bryant

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The non-conference schedule certainly appears to be preparing the Bulldogs for the always competitive Ivy League season, when the outcome of games usually isn't determined until the final minutes. Yale has already played four games decided by four points or fewer, including Wednesday's thrilling 64-62 victory at Bryant. Freshman Justin Sears's put back in the final seconds provided the winning margin. The Bulldogs figure to be in another tight game on Saturday when they meet a New Hampshire team that has a victory over Dartmouth on its resume and gave UConn all it could handle before falling 61-53. Tipoff at UNH's Lundholm Gym is slated for 1 p.m.

Yale (3-6) got solid play from its bench, which contributed 26 points, in the win at Bryant. The Bulldogs also committed a season-low eight turnovers. Austin Morgan (12.0 ppg.) leads the team in scoring. Sears is establishing himself as one of the top freshmen in the Ivy League. His 11.4 points per game average is third among freshmen in the league, and he is sixth overall in rebounding at 7.0 rpg. Sears scored a career-high 20 points in the win over Bryant and also grabbed nine rebounds. The Bulldogs will take a 10-day break for final exams following Saturday's game. They host Albertus Magnus on Dec. 18, take another break for the holiday and then head out on a difficult three-game road stretch against Nevada (Dec. 28), St. Mary's (Dec. 30) and Iowa State (Jan. 1).


•  Jeremiah Kreisberg scored a season-high 14 points on Wednesday against Bryant. He was 6-of-8 from the field. Kreisberg started all 29 games last year but had off-season back surgery which has limited him early in the season.

•  Since being inserted into the starting lineup for the Army game, Sam Martin has averaged 8.3 points, while shooting 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from three-point range.

•  Austin Morgan is shooting .917 from the free throw line, which is fourth in the Ivy League. Morgan finished fifth in the nation in free throw percentage (.900) last year, setting a single-season school record.

•  Michael Grace had a career-high four steals in the win over Bryant.


Yale and New Hampshire are playing for the first time since 1998, an 86-62 Bulldog victory in New Haven. The first meeting came in 1978 in Durham, a 72-68 UNH win. Yale leads the all-time series 12-5 and has won four straight. The Bulldogs have also won four straight in Durham.


UNH (3-5) is coming off a hard-fought 87-84 home loss to Central Connecticut on Wednesday. The Wildcats led by 12 points early in the second half before Central rallied. New Hampshire has four players averaging double figures in scoring - Ferg Myrick (14.0 ppg.), Chris Pelcher (12.9 ppg.), Patrick Konan (12.5 ppg.) and Chandler Rhoads (11.2 ppg.). New Hampshire leads the America East in three team categories, pacing the conference in field goal percentage defense (.373, 177-474), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.253, 38-150) and defensive rebounds (28.6). UNH head coach Bill Herrion and Yale head coach James Jones both have younger brothers who coach in Division I. Herrion's brother Tom is the head coach at Marshall, while Jones' brother Joe is the head coach at Boston University.


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, 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.).


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 didn't play their first home game until Saturday, Nov. 24 against Army. That was 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 challenging 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 third 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 and Travis Pinick '09 was taken in the eighth round of the 2009 draft by the Los Angeles D-Fenders Willhite enjoyed an outstanding career for the Bulldogs. 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, Pinick and Neil Yanke (tryout with Los Angeles Lakers) both had opportunities in the United States.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity