Bears visit Lee Amphitheater for Elis’ home opener

After ruining Brown’s Ivy League home opener last Saturday, the men’s basketball team will have to work hard this weekend to ensure the Bears don’t return the favor.

Although the Bulldogs (5-9, 1-0 Ivy) may not have racked up as many wins as they would have liked during the non-conference season, they do have the opportunity to begin league play 2-0 for the first time since the 2001-2002 season and sweep the Bears (5-11, 0-1) for the first time in a decade. Having won three of its last four games and holding opponents to under 43 percent shooting during this stretch, Yale seems to be picking up the pace at precisely the right time for a strong Ancient Eight campaign this year.

Brown, which has won four of the last five contests played in Lee Amphitheater, will surely be anxious to continue their recent dominance in New Haven. The depth and cohesive play of the Elis have been vital factors in the team’s success over the past few games, and solid team basketball will be necessary if the Bulldogs hope to send the Bears home empty-handed this weekend.

The Yale bench outscored Brown’s 27-8 last Saturday and over the past four games, the Bulldogs have not had a single player averaging double-digit scoring, but rather boast seven who are averaging over six and a half.

After putting on one of its strongest all-around performances in Rhode Island, Yale will be looking to do more of the same this weekend in a number of categories. The Bears, who are second in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 62.4 points per game, got a taste of their own medicine last weekend. The Bulldogs held Brown to under 40 percent shooting, allowing only 42 points — the lowest point total allowed by the Elis since 2000.

“Defensively we were able to keep guys in front of us and limited penetration,” forward Travis Pinick ’09 said. “We held them to one shot and really got them to play our style and do what we wanted them to do.”

Yale also showed why it leads the Ancient Eight in rebounding, dominating the glass for a 34-19 advantage at Brown and granting the Bears only one offensive rebound.

Last week, the Bulldogs clamped down on defense early in the game, holding Brown scoreless for a seven minute stretch in the first half and entering halftime with a 30-21 lead. The Bears scored the first six points of the second half, but a timeout was all Yale needed to get jump-started and the Elis ran off 10 consecutive points. The Bulldogs never looked back, and solid fundamental play down the stretch ensured the Bears would not come within single digits for the rest of the game. Forward Sam Kaplan ’07, who played in only his second game since suffering a broken nose over a month ago, converted on all five of his field goal attempts for 10 points and added five rebounds. All in all, nine different Bulldogs put up points.

“Our offense is designed to get everybody shots,” guard Caleb Holmes ’08 said. “We’ve really been stressing playing as a team and staying in our offensive sets.”

Yale will have to keep an eye on junior guard Mark McAndrew, Brown’s second leading scorer, who lit the Bulldogs up for 18 points on Saturday. McAndrew also averages a team-high 5.0 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs will also need to make adjustments for the Bear press, which presented some problems for the Elis last Saturday. After having a week to go over game film, team members said they feel confident about the upcoming contest.

With the bulk of the Ivy League season on the horizon, including away games at Harvard and Dartmouth next week, it becomes increasingly important for Yale to utilize its recent momentum and extends its budding win streak.

“Every game in the Ivy League is important,” head coach James Jones said. “We have been coming together as a team and need to concentrate on building on this momentum.”

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