The Yale men’s basketball team faces a formidable challenge if it wants to win this weekend. It comes in the form of Brown’s Earl Hunt, the nation’s 10th leading scorer.
Hunt’s 22.1 points per game leads the Brown team in scoring. Perhaps more impressive, he is currently on pace to score more than 1,000 points by the end of his sophomore season, a feat that no Ivy Leaguer has ever accomplished.
Yale head coach James Jones is well aware of the threat Hunt poses.
“[Hunt] is capable of scoring 35 or so points, and we need to make sure we contain him,” Jones said.
The Elis will be relying on a stellar sophomore of their own to shut him down. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Week, Ime Archibong ’03, figures to play a key role in Yale’s attempt to stop Hunt.
Jones noted Hunt’s versatility is a major obstacle for teams trying to stop him from wreaking havoc on the court. Players that try to play Hunt too physical end up being burned by his quickness, and vice versa.
Archibong matches up well because he also possesses a good balanced game of both speed and strength. Archibong’s performance this season has not gone unnoticed by Brown head coach Glen Miller.
“[Archibong] has really stepped up his game this year,” Miller said.
But most likely, Archibong will not have to face the challenge of stopping Hunt alone, as Jones has indicated he’ll have some help.
“We’re gonna double team [Hunt] if he’s in the post and trap him and make it hard for him to get shots off,” Jones said.
The danger here is that by doubling up on Hunt, the rest of the Bears get a better opportunity to score — namely in Alai Nuualiitia. The team’s second leading scorer — who played with Kobe Bryant in high school — and a dangerous presence in the post, will matchup against captain Neil Yanke ’01. The 6-foot-11-inch Yanke has a definite height advantage over the 6-foot-6-inch Nuualiitia, a fact that is not lost upon Miller.
“Yanke is very strong, has good athleticism — and is a tough matchup for anyone in our league,” Miller said.
Miller also noted the Bears cannot let Yanke get position down low, but they are an undersized team and it will be difficult to stop him. Last year, the Bulldog captain was unstoppable against the Bears, scoring 29 points in Providence in a 76-68 Brown victory. Yanke, however, is coming off a sub-par weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth.
“I am just going to try to be as aggressive and play as hard as I can, let it come to me, try not to force anything, and play like I know I am capable of,” Yanke said.
Brown will also need to contend with Chris Leanza ’03, who is averaging 15.8 points per game and has made a three-pointer in 23 straight contests.
“[Leanza] will have a lot of our attention. He is a terrific player,” Miller said.
Trying to counter Leanza will be Omari Ware, who is averaging seven points per game for the Bears.
So what does Yale need to do to emerge victorious? In short, Archibong and company need to come up big against Hunt, Yanke needs to dominate Nuualiitia, and Leanza needs to take care of Omari Ware. And, according to Jones, teamwork is key.
“I don’t like to look at the individual match-ups. Our team needs to shut down their team,” Jones said.