Thanksgiving break was not kind to the men’s basketball team.
Excluding their initial 98-55 trouncing of Allegheny in the Elis’ season opener, the team has struggled out of the gate this season, most recently suffering three consecutive losses over the holiday week. But, as is often the case in sports, the team’s record (1-3) is not necessarily an accurate representation of its merit.
Dealing with numerous injuries during what was perhaps the toughest stretch of their season, the Bulldogs have nevertheless performed at a high level and had an opportunity to win every game in which they have competed thus far. Team members said they expect that the scoreboard will likely take care of itself as the talented young team continues to gain experience and develop as a cohesive unit.
“We just need to continue playing hard and meshing as a team,” forward Travis Pinick ’09 said. “Our upcoming practices will be the first time we’ve had everyone together and healthy all year. Guys are still defining their roles on the team, and I think we can fix a lot in practice.”
Yale opened the break by traveling to the Midwest for a two-game trip to Ohio. The Bulldogs displayed a solid all-around team effort in their first road contest against Ohio University, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Bobcats, who downed the Elis, 73-65. Guard Eric Flato ’08 led Yale with 16 points and six assists, while reserve forward Jason Abromaitis ’07 added 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Bulldogs ran into much of the same as they continued their tour of the Buckeye State and traveled south to try their luck against Dayton. After getting off to a slow start and trailing 52-37 midway through the second stanza, Yale rallied to close the gap to six. But the Flyers used a collective effort, which featured four players in double figures, to hold off the Eli charge.
“We came out more focused in the second half after making some silly mistakes in the first half,” forward Ross Morin ’09 said. “We were able to work the ball inside and do what we do. We just need to work on some of the little things like finishing better and getting more stops.”
Denied on their journey out west, the Bulldogs returned home this weekend to play host to a struggling, but always dangerous, Bucknell (1-4) team. As the two-time defending Patriot League champions, the Bison showed the Lee Amphitheater crowd why they have advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament each of the last two years. Bucknell shot 63 percent in the second half and went 21 for 24 from the foul line for the game to spoil the Elis’ homecoming, 72-57. Flato led Yale in scoring for the third consecutive game with 15, and swingman Casey Hughes ’07 chipped in 13 points and five assists in his first game back from illness.
“The reason you schedule tough non-conference opponents is to bring things out you can improve upon,” head coach James Jones said. “We need to work on having a more well-balanced offense, improving our mid-range game and getting stops in crucial situations. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”
Yale will attempt to break its losing streak this Wednesday when another challenging Patriot League opponent, Holy Cross, rolls into town.