Home has never looked so sweet.
Of the first 20 games of the season, the men’s basketball team played just five within the friendly confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Now the Bulldogs (8-12, 3-3 Ivy) look to take advantage of a four-game home stand over the next two weekends and avoid hurting their chances at an Ivy League championship any further.
The home stretch begins this weekend when the Elis host first-place Princeton (9-8, 4-0) Friday night at 7 p.m. and seventh-place Penn (5-13, 1-3) on Valentine’s Day at 7 p.m. The YES Network will televise the Friday night contest.
In the not-so-distant past, this would have been a weekend circled on Yale’s calendar — from the 1988-’89 season though the 2006-’07 campaign, the Killer P’s were the only ones to win Ivy League titles and represent the Ancient Eight in the NCAA tournament.
Instead, defending champion Cornell (15-7, 5-1) was the team to beat coming into the season. But Princeton changed that last weekend and look to once again become the class of Ivy League basketball; the Tigers manhandled the Big Red, 61-41, then dominated Columbia, 63-35, on Saturday to vault to first place and remain undefeated in conference play.
The Tigers, who were picked to finish seventh in the preseason Ivy League media poll, are led by the Ivy League’s top scoring freshman, guard Doug Davis. The Philadelphia native is averaging a team-best 12.5 points per game and is followed by sophomore Dan Mavaraides’s 10.2 points per game. But it’s the Princeton defense that has been the key to their surprising 4-0 conference start. The Tigers are fifth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 56.8 points per game, and their opponents are shooting just 38.5 percent thus far this season.
Penn, picked second to finish in the league, has lost the last three games after opening its conference schedule with a win over Harvard (10-4, 2-2). The Quakers are led by sophomore Tyler Bernardini’s 14.3 points per game. Jack Eggleston, Brennan Votel and Harrison Gaines are all averaging over nine points per game.
Coming off a disappointing split last weekend at Harvard and Dartmouth (6-14, 4-2), Yale will continue to look to its captain, Ross Morin ’09, for production. The 6-foot-7 forward was on the Ivy League Honor Roll this week after averaging 16 points in the team’s two games last weekend. On the season, Morin is seventh in the league in scoring with an average of 13.4 points per contest.
The Elis are riding a four-game win streak into the weekend and have won four straight against the Tigers and four of the last seven against the Quakers. The 2007 season was the last time the Bulldogs swept the Princeton-Penn weekend at home.