After two weeks of conference play, the men’s basketball team finds itself directly in the middle of the standings early in the Ivy League season.
The Bulldogs dropped a contest in Providence two weeks ago against Brown before avenging the defeat with a rousing overtime victory last weekend, and now sit in third place in the league. This weekend, though, the Elis will go on the road to face two squads on opposite ends of the standings, including one of their biggest matchups of the year.
The Bulldogs (7–12, 1–1 Ivy) will square off against archrival Harvard (10–6, 2–0), the current Ivy co-leader, on Friday before driving up to Hanover to face perennial conference cellar-dweller Dartmouth (4–12, 0–2) on Saturday.
“Obviously we try to treat it as any other game, but Harvard is a big game regardless of what our records are,” forward Brandon Sherrod ’15 said.
Sherrod will suit up for this weekend’s games for the first time since Yale’s loss to Nevada over winter break, in which he suffered a hematoma.
Captain Sam Martin ’13 also highlighted the importance of treating the game like any other, saying that when a team treats a certain game differently than other games, the team’s play often can falter. Still, Martin expects a rowdy environment on Friday.
“There will probably be some more people [at the Harvard game], they’ll probably be saying some meaner things,” he said. “But other than that it’s just playing another basketball game.”
Martin noted that the Elis have been preparing for the Crimson’s small-ball style of play, which relies on spreading the floor for its strong shooters and slashers.
The captain also said that because of the Bulldogs’ size advantage, he hopes the team will be able to control the game in the paint.
“We gotta do a good job of running them off of the 3-point line and sticking with shooters and hopefully [we can] beat them up on the inside and control the rebound battle,” Martin added.
The Elis will have to be particularly wary of Harvard forward Wesley Saunders, who currently averages 16.3 points per game to lead the Ivy League. Guard Siyani Chambers has shot just over 44 percent from beyond the 3-point arc this season and also figures to pose a challenge to the Elis.
In addition to controlling the lane, the Bulldogs will look to limit the Crimson offense by playing strong team defense, Sherrod said.
After completing its game on Saturday, Yale will travel to New Hampshire to take on Dartmouth. While the Big Green have won only a single conference game over the past three seasons, the Elis cannot afford to take them lightly. Dartmouth nearly sprung a massive Ivy League upset last weekend against Harvard, leading the Crimson by 10 with three minutes left before collapsing down the stretch and dropping the contest in overtime.
Martin said that the Elis have not prepared too much for the contest against the Big Green, and will begin to prepare intensely for that matchup late Friday night.
“We’ll watch tape on Friday after the Harvard game,” he said. “Then we’ll start to [get] the scouting report for Dartmouth right after.”
The Elis will tip off against Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion in Boston at 7 p.m. on Friday and against Dartmouth at Leede Arena in Hanover at the same time on Saturday.