After a disappointing loss in Providence last Saturday, the men’s basketball team will attempt to regroup at home this weekend against Columbia and Cornell.
The Elis (7–9, 1–1 Ivy) got the better of Brown in the conference opener two weeks ago but collapsed against the Bears’ formidable shooting last weekend. Brown shot 9–18 from distance with leading scorer Sean McGonagill going 7–9 from the arc for 29 points. The Bulldogs only shot 36.2 percent from the floor and missed 19 free throws on the way to a 17 point loss.
“[Perimeter defense] is certainly a concern,” said head coach James Jones. “We’ve done a poor job most of the year at guarding the arc, and it seems like we’ve almost been snake-bit. When that happens, guys sometimes try to do a little too much.”
The Elis’ first test of the weekend will come tonight against Columbia. The Lions (12–6, 2–0) have impressed so far this season and will enter the game having won their last six games, including two against Cornell.
Jones said that although Columbia’s schedule has been relatively weak, the squad has still shown solid play early in the season.
“They’ve beaten people that they should beat, they’ve won some games that you raise your eyebrows at, and they’ve won against some teams that you wouldn’t have suspected they would play as well against,” Jones said. “So they’re a very dangerous team.”
The Lions will be a particularly challenging opponent for Yale, as they currently lead the Ivy League in three point percentage with a lofty 40.1 percent. The Elis will rely on a collective effort to guard Columbia’s shooters.
Another issue for Yale so far this season has been the team’s rebounding. The Elis were a great rebounding team last year, with a rebounding differential of +4.0 per game and +5.0 against Ivy League competition. This season, the figure is down to +1.1 overall, and in the two games against Brown, the Bulldogs were a combined –16 in rebounds.
“It’s tough,” said forward Brandon Sherrod ’15. “We got a lot of offensive rebounds last year, and we didn’t lose a lot of length at all. We should definitely be getting more rebounds. I think it’s just a matter of chasing the ball.”
The Elis lost guards Austin Morgan ’13, Michael Grace ’13 and Sam Martin ’13 to graduation after last season. But with the exception of center Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14, who is out for this season with a back injury, the Elis’ frontcourt was left entirely intact. Their rebounding struggles will pose a significant hurdle this season as they aim to improve on last year’s third place Ivy finish.
Cornell (1–15, 0–2) has labored through a tough non-conference schedule and will enter the weekend after losing a pair of games against the red-hot Lions. However, Jones was quick to mention that the Big Red have competed hard and been in almost every game they have played in.
On paper, this is a game the Elis would appear to have all but secured. But guard Javier Duren ’15 noted the importance of staying focused, no matter the apparent strength of the opponent.
“There’s always a tendency to overlook a team, especially when they don’t look as good on paper,” Duren said. “But we have to come out and start strong and not take anyone for granted. I think if we play our game, we will have the results we are seeking.”
The Elis tip off against Columbia tonight at 7 p.m.