Team Awards Announced; Mason Elected Captain
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs gathered one final time as a team on Wednesday night in the historic Kiphuth Trophy room inside Payne Whitney Gym to celebrate another highly successful season. Yale reached the championship game of the inaugural Ivy League Tournament and won 18 games, including over Harvard in the semifinals of the Ivy tournament and a season-opening upset of Washington of the Pac-12. All that was accomplished despite the graduation of four seniors from the previous year and the loss to injury of leading scorer Makai Mason.
The festivities began with a terrific highlight video of the season created by Yale's Video Producer Evan Ellis. Then it was time to hand out eight team awards.
The Dick Derby Scholarship Award was presented to junior Landon Russell, who has a 3.64 grade point average.
Sophomore Alex Copeland was the recipient of the Most Improved Player Award. If the Ivy League had a similar award, Copeland would have been the likely winner. He tied for the team lead in scoring at 12.9 ppg., which was tied for 10th in the league, after scoring only 30 points and appearing in 13 games as a freshman.
Copeland also received the Eggie Miles Award as the team's top free throw shooter. Copeland shot 79.5 percent (62-of-78) from the line, edging Trey Phills, who shot 79.3 percent (65-of-82).
Phills, though, didn't go home empty handed. He received the George McReynolds Best Defensive Player Award. Phills finished second on the team with 27 steals but more importantly always drew the assignment of guarding the opposing team's top perimeter player, a role he thrived in. Phills also contributed offensively, averaging 7.1 points.
The Bill Madden Toughness Award was presented to sophomore Thomas Ryan. In announcing the award, James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs, said there was almost never a practice where Ryan failed to get at least one offensive rebound.
Junior Noah Yates was the recipient of the Josh Hill Dedication Award. Yates joined the team this year after playing football at Yale and made a big impression on his teammates and the coaching staff with his hard work. Yates appeared in 11 games off the bench.
The Stan Smith Senior Award was presented to Anthony Dallier, this year's captain. One week before the first game, Dallier assumed the team's point guard duties when Mason was injured. Jones said he has never asked more of a player than he did of Dallier, who responded in a big way. Dallier started 28 games and finished third in the league in assists, averaging 4.1 per game. In addition, he averaged 9.4 points and 3.8 rebounds.
The Dutch Arnold Award as the team most valuable player was shared by senior Sam Downey and freshman Miye Oni. Downey earned honorable mention All-Ivy recognition finishing second in the league in field goal percentage (.564) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). He was at his best in Ivy games, when he shot 61.8 percent from the field and averaged 11.3 points and 7.7 rebounds.
Oni was a five-time Ivy Rookie of the Week selection. He tied for 10th in the league in scoring (12.9 ppg.), was fifth in rebounding (6.3 rpg.), ninth in three-point field goal percentage (.396) and sixth in three-point field goals made (2.1 per game).
After all the awards were presented, Dallier and Downey, the two seniors, each addressed the audience, eloquently reminiscing about their experiences over the last four years. The two will graduate as the winningest class in the modern era of Yale Basketball. The Bulldogs won 82 games during their careers.
The final act of the night was the naming of next year's captain. Following a team vote, Mason was announced as the 2017-18 captain. Look for more on Mason being elected captain in the coming days on yalebulldogs.com.
Report filed by Tim Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity