It is becoming evident why men’s basketball coach James Jones calls Alex Gamboa ’05 “G-money.”
Gamboa, a point guard for the 3-3 Bulldogs, has started the last four games, averaging 14.5 points and five assists.
“I was worried about starting two freshmen in the backcourt [at the start of the season],” said Jones, who also has freshman combo guard Edwin Draughan ’05 in his starting five.
Gamboa did not start in Yale’s first two games, both Eli losses. Since then, he has been on the floor for the opening tip, and as Jones points out, the switch has been a positive one, with the team going 3-1 in Gamboa’s four starts.
“He can make some moves and bail us out when he needs to,” forward Paul Vitelli ’04 said.
That was clear Wednesday night in Yale’s 77-64 win over Sacred Heart, when Gamboa demonstrated a maturity beyond his years. In a sloppy game featuring 36 turnovers, Gamboa was a stabilizing influence on the court for the Elis while also providing an offensive spark with a career-high 19 points.
Gamboa and his teammates return to the floor Saturday at 2 p.m. (WYBC-AM 1340) against Army (3-1) at the John J. Lee Amphitheater as Yale tries to get above the .500 mark for the first time this season.
Last year at West Point, the Bulldogs eked out a 64-61 victory over the Black Knights on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by point guard Chris Leanza ’03. Recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, Leanza is out until at least January, giving Gamboa the chance to make his early impact.
But Yale’s fast start stems from the team’s overall strong play, not just Gamboa’s.
Yale has displayed an extremely potent offense, averaging 82.8 points per game, up from 64.6 a year ago. Yale has also drastically improved its rebounding, beating its opponents by 6.2 boards a night, eight better than their 2.2 rebound deficit per night last year.
The Bulldogs’ defense needs improvement, though. Sacred Heart shot 39 percent from the floor Wednesday night, but it was a function of poor shooting and not a stifling Yale defense.
“We did not play well defensively,” Jones said after that game, attributing some of the poor play to nerves in the team’s home opener. “I am hoping Saturday the jitters will be out.”