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Trip To Holy Cross, Home Date With No. 9 Florida Up Next For Bulldogs

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

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A busy start to the new year continues for the Bulldogs this weekend. Yale is at Holy Cross on Friday at 7 p.m. and then hosts No. 9/13 Florida on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Sunday's game with the Gators is sold out, but will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network.

The Bulldogs are just back from a long three-game trip that took them to Reno, Nev., Moraga, Calif., and Ames, Iowa. Yale more than held its own in the games with Nevada, Saint Mary's and Iowa State despite dropping all three. The Bulldogs had a lead in the second half in two of the games, and grabbed 22 offensive rebounds against Saint Mary's, the defending West Coast Conference champions. In the three games, Yale had 54 offensive rebounds and now leads the Ivy League with 13.2 offensive rebounds per game. Freshman Justin Sears has a league best 50 offensive rebounds and is sixth overall in rebounding (6.6 rpg.). Austin Morgan (12.5 ppg.) leads the team in scoring and is tied for eighth in the league.

The Bulldogs also have benefitted recently from the play of junior Jeremiah Kreisberg, who seems to be fully recovered after having off-season back surgery. Kreisberg, who started all 29 games last year, has scored in double figures in four of the last six games. Against Iowa State on New Year's Day, he tallied a career-high 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Yale led the Cyclones 35-27 after playing perhaps its best half of the season. The Bulldogs shot 45 percent from the field, held Iowa State to 26 percent and committed only five turnovers.


•  The three-game trip was memorable for Austin Morgan. First he scored 20 points in his hometown of Reno., Nev., against the University of Nevada. Morgan had nearly 70 family and friends in attendance and received a very nice ovation from the crowd of more than 7,000 when he was introduced during the player introductions. Two days later, he became the 25th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. Perhaps fittingly, Morgan reached the milestone on a three-pointer in the second half. He now has 171 career treys, which is fourth all-time at Yale.

•  Greg Kelley scored a career-high 14 points against Saint Mary's. He was 4-of-5 from three-point range in the game.

•  Javier Duren is averaging 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds over the last four games. He scored a career-high 12 points against Iowa State. Duren flirted with a double-double in the win over Albertus Magnus on Dec. 18, scoring eight points and grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds.

•  Matt Townsend was 4-of-5 from the field and scored eight points in 21 minutes off the bench against Iowa State.


   Yale and Holy Cross have a history that dates back all the way to 1903, a 26-10 Bulldog victory. Friday will be the 67th meeting between the teams and the Crusaders hold a 35-31 advantage in the series. Yale, though, has won three straight, including an 82-67 victory at Lee Amphitheater last year. Sam Martin scored nine points to lead a Yale bench that contributed 31 points to the win. Two years ago in Worcester, Austin Morgan's three-point play with 6.2 seconds left in overtime lifted the Bulldogs to a 77-76 win.

   Yale and Florida have a much shorter history. The teams met for the first time last year and the Gators won 90-70 in Gainesville. The Bulldogs scored the first nine points of the game, but Florida answered with a 17-3 run to seize control. Kenny Boynton led the Gators with 26 points. Morgan scored 10 points and Michael Grace added six assists for Yale.


   Holy Cross (7-6) is coming off a 70-60 loss at Boston College on Dec. 29. The Crusaders are playing at home for the first time since Dec. 8 and only the fourth time this season. Holy Cross is the eighth best free throw shooting team in the nation at 76.7 percent. Yale is the third Ivy League opponent for the Crusaders who beat Dartmouth 67-56 on Dec. 8 and lost at Harvard 72-65 on Dec. 22. Dave Dudzinski (15.1 ppg.) leads the team in scoring.


   The Gators, ranked No. 9 in the most recent USA Today's Coaches' Poll and No. 13 in the Associated Press Poll, haven't played since a 78-61 victory over Air Force on Dec. 29. Florida (52.2 ppg. allowed) is fifth in the nation in scoring defense. The Gators have held six of their 11 opponents under 50 points. Kenny Boynton (12.5 ppg.) leads a balanced Florida scoring attack. Erik Murphy (12.1 ppg.), Mike Rossrio (11.6 ppg.) and Patric Young (11.1 ppg.) also average double figures in scoring. The Gators went 26-11 and fell one game shy of the Final Four last year.


   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.



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 


   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.

•  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, 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.