Bulldogs Set For Visit To Harvard, Dartmouth

Michael Grace (John Coleman photo)

First Full Weekend Of Ivy Play Has Yale On The Road

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The first full weekend of Ivy League play has the Bulldogs on the road at Harvard on Friday and at Dartmouth on Saturday. Both nights tip off is slated for 7 p.m.

Yale hopes it depth and balance proves to be beneficial with back-to-back games on tap for the next six weekends. It certainly came in handy in Saturday's 76-64 overtime victory over Brown. The Bulldogs outscored the Bears 18-6 in the extra period. Ten players all saw at least 12 minutes of action in the game. Yale (7-12, 1-1 Ivy) has had 12 different players start at least one game this season. Greg Kelley was the latest to move into the starting lineup, and he responded with nine points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 27 minutes. In his last three games, Kelley is averaging 10 points and 5.3 rebounds. Austin Morgan (11.5 ppg.) continues to lead the Bulldogs in scoring. He was named the Ivy League co-player of the week after scoring 16 points in Saturday's win over Brown. Freshman Justin Sears earned co-rookie of the week honors after leading Yale with 18 points and eight rebounds against the Bears. The Bulldogs lead the Ivy League in rebounding margin (+3.8) and offensive rebounds (13.0 per game) and are second in scoring offense (66.4) and third in free throw percentage (.704). Yale is starting a four-game Ivy League road trip. The Bulldogs aren't back in Lee Amphitheater until Feb. 15 against Cornell.

BENCH PLAY

Yale's bench has outscored it opponent's reserves in six of the last seven games. The Bulldogs had a 31-9 advantage in bench points in Saturday's win over Brown, and outscored the Bears 54-24 in the two games.

HISTORY LESSONS

Yale and Harvard are playing for the 187th time. The Bulldogs have more wins (115) over the Crimson than any other opponent. Harvard, though, swept the season series last year. The Crimson has won three straight at Lavietes Pavilion. Yale's last win there was an 87-66 decision in 2009.

The Bulldogs have won seven straight and 11 of the last 12 meetings with Dartmouth. In addition, Yale is 5-1 in its last six games at Leede Arena. Overall, the Bulldogs lead the all-time series 106-94. Austin Morgan averaged 13.5 points against the Big Green last season.

SCOUTING HARVARD

The Crimson (10-6, 2-0 Ivy) opened Ivy play by sweeping Dartmouth. It certainly didn't come easy, however. In the first meeting in Hanover, N.H., Harvard trailed 43-42 at halftime but shot a blistering 60 percent from the field in the second half to escape with a 75-65 win. Two weeks later in Boston, the Crimson rallied from a seven-point deficit with 1:10 remaining in the second half to force overtime and then outscored the Big Green 20-15 in the extra period to win 82-77. Wesley Saunders (16.3 ppg.) leads the Crimson in scoring. Harvard leads the Ivy League in scoring offense (69.9 ppg.), field goal percentage (.478) and three-point field goal percentage (.403).

SCOUTING DARTMOUTH

The Big Green (4-12, 0-2 Ivy) has split its last four games. Dartmouth hosts Brown on Friday night. Gabas Maldunas (10.8 ppg.) and Alex Mitola (10.3 ppg.) lead the team in scoring. Maldunas scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the game against Yale last year in Hanover. The Big Green has 13 freshmen or sophomores on its roster.

TWO BULLDOGS EARN IVY LEAGUE AWARDS

A big overtime win over Brown on Saturday helped a pair of Yale players earn weekly honors from the Ivy League. Austin Morgan, who scored seven of Yale's 18 points in the extra period, was named the Ivy League Player of the Week, sharing the honor with Harvard's Christian Webster. Justin Sears, who paced the Bulldogs with 18 points, was named the Rookie of Week. Sears shared the honor with Harvard's Siyani Chambers. Morgan opened overtime with a three-pointer and Yale never relinquished the lead. His four free throws in the final 1:34 helped seal the victory. Morgan finished 4-of-6 from three-point range. He now has 180 treys in his career, which is third in school history. Morgan is eighth in the Ivy League in scoring (11.5 ppg.), second in free throw percentage (.894) and sixth in three-point field goals made (2.2 per game).  Morgan is the first Yale player to earn Player of the Week recognition since Greg Mangano '12 last February. Sears was a key factor on both ends of the floor in the 76-64 win over Brown.  Eleven of his team-high 18 points came in the second half, including five in the final 5:18 as the two teams went back and forth. In addition, he grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end. Defensively, he was only credited with one block, but he altered a number of other shots and was a big presence in the paint. Sears is fifth in the league in rebounding (6.4 rpg.) and seventh in field goal percentage (.485). The last Yale player to earn Rookie of the Week recognition was Jeremiah Kreisberg in 2011.

BROWN NOTES

•   Yale outrebounded the Bears 47-34 on Saturday. In the two games, the Bulldogs held an 87-68 edge on the boards.

•   Yale grabbed 28 offensive rebounds in the two games.

•   After having only four assists in the first meeting, the Bulldogs notched assists on 20 of their 23 field goals in Saturday's victory.

•   The win on Saturday allowed Yale to avoid its first 0-2 Ivy League start since 2004-05.

•   The Bulldogs were 7-of-14 from three-point range in Saturday's win.

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.

2012-13 IVY LEAGUE 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

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 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.

•  Yale faced a very challenging three-game road trip right after Christmas. The Bulldogs travelled to Nevada, Saint Mary's and Iowa State. The trip to Nevada was a homecoming for Reno native Austin Morgan, Jeremiah Kreisberg hails from Berkeley, Calif., a short distance from the Saint. Mary's campus while the trip to Iowa State was a homecoming for Ames, Iowa, native Jesse Pritchard.

•  The biggest test of the season, though, came in Lee Amphitheater when preseason No. 10 Florida visited 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 was one of two in the Amphitheater that will be nationally televised. The NBC Sports Network was in town for the game with the Gators, while CBS Sports Television will show the home game with Harvard on Feb. 23.

•  Yale kicked 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 ROUND 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 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