Men’s basketball team guard Javier Duren ’15 led the Bulldogs to a victory against the Columbia Lions on Tuesday night with a career-high in scoring, notching 33 of Yale’s 72 points. With the win, the Eli men (9–5, 5–2 Ivy) now look to win two more critical games and close their season with the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) championship title. The News sat down with Duren to discuss the Bulldogs’ postseason, the guard’s game against the Lions and the team’s upcoming game against VMI.
Q. This has been the Bulldogs’ best postseason run in years. When did the team know that this year was going to be a special one?
A. It started right in the beginning of the season, and we have had high hopes and high expectations for the team ever since. We didn’t really play as well as we wanted to within the Ivy League, but the CIT has given us a chance at redemption.
Q. What did the team do differently against Columbia on Tuesday night following the loss to the Lions earlier this season?
A. Well, we got back to sharing the ball and getting some more movement on the court. There were not many defensive breakdowns, and we were playing together as a team, with the entire offense moving instead of specific guys shooting. After halftime, we got back to playing together as a team–how we regularly play.
Q. You scored a career-high of 33 points against the Lions. What was working for you during the game, especially in the second half when you scored 26 of your 33 points?
A. I got a little bit confident right at the beginning of the second half after the first couple of shots that went in. After that, I just kept going with it and made some good decisions. We all made some good decisions.
Q. You also led the team in rebounds, with a total of 9. Would you say sharp defensive play or offensive play was more crucial during the game?
A. I definitely made more of an offensive contribution for this game. For this game, it was about scoring. For others, it’s been about my assists or rebounds. I enjoy helping the team in any way I can and playing together as a team to do what needs to be done.
Q. How are the Eli men refocusing to face VMI, a team they have not faced yet this season, in the CIT semifinal next week?
A. I think it’s about going back to the basics and playing with each other. Sharing the ball and really being a community are the key things that will set us above the other team. Those things have set us apart in our wins this year. We’ve seen how good we can be, and we really can be tough to beat.
Q. As a rising senior, what do expect for the younger players on the team in the coming seasons?
A. My advice to them would be to take pride in winning as a team. The biggest thing is that we all only get four years to play for Yale University, and we have to cherish that and work hard while we can. I would tell them to expect not to have a spring break, and make it a priority to play hard during the postseasons. We have a great team.
Q. What are your goals for the remainder of the postseason?
A. Definitely to win the CIT championship. That’s definitely goal number one. It’s been a long season, especially with the Ivy League games. We didn’t get to finish the Ivy games the way we wanted to with the two losses against Harvard and Dartmouth. So, we’d like to finish these last two games right and win. That would be awesome.