M. bball finds footing in Vermont scrimmage

After months of competing against one another, the men’s basketball team finally saw some outside competition this weekend — hockey style.

The Bulldogs scrimmaged Vermont Saturday afternoon, playing three 20-minute periods at the State University of New York at Albany in preparation for their Nov. 22 season opener at Oklahoma State University.

Although no one kept official score because of NCAA rules, coach James Jones said the teams played a close first two halves.

But according to forward Ime Archibong ’03, the third period was a different story — the Elis lacked the energy they displayed earlier in the scrimmage.

“It left a bad taste in our mouth,” Archibong said. “Everyone was disappointed.”

Jones said he was pleased by good movement on the offensive end, and his players distributed the ball well. Several players delivered strong individual performances, Jones said, including Archibong, guard Matt Minoff ’04 and forward Mark Lovett ’05. Lovett had been recovering from a knee injury for much of the autumn and just returned to practice last week.

Jones said the scrimmage helped him and the players identify weaknesses that were not obvious in practice.

“It was helpful for us to understand where they are and expose what we need to work on,” Jones said. “It’s a good place to start.”

Vermont went 21-8 last season and was the American East Conference’s regular season champions. Yale went 21-11, was co-Ivy League Champion and reached the National Invitational Tournament’s second round.

Archibong said facing strong outside competition such as Vermont is particularly beneficial.

“Nine weeks against the same bodies gets kind of monotonous,” he said.

Post players Paul Vitelli ’04 and Josh Hill ’04 are still injured and did not suit for the scrimmage. Jones said their absence hurt Yale’s post defense against the Catamounts, which features two 6-feet-8, 260-pound players. Jones also said the Bulldogs need to work on their transition offense and post entry passes.

Despite these weaknesses, Archibong said the scrimmage achieved its purpose.

“We learned things about ourselves, and that’s what we were looking for,” Archibong said.

The scrimmage also allowed Yale’s two newest additions to its roster, freshmen forwards Dexter Upshaw ’06 and Juan Wheat ’06, to face college competition. The rookies made solid contributions, Archibong said, in their first taste of the college game.

As Ivy League teams are only allowed one scrimmage, Yale will only play itself before Oklahoma State. As injured players return to practice, Archibong said the team has been making good progress for its season opener in two weeks.

“We’re well on our way,” Archibong said. “Practice is a lot better than when there were only eight people.”

The University at Albany was selected as the scrimmage’s site because of its central location between Yale and Vermont. Jones lived in Albany for 13 years, playing and coaching at the University at Albany. He said he felt nostalgic returning to the city where he met his wife.

Comments