Last Friday’s 85-75 overtime loss to Brown was a case of shoulda, woulda, coulda for the men’s basketball team.
The Bulldogs should have won. They were leading at halftime and for most of the second half and had a chance to win the game with a last-second jumper that rimmed out.
They would have won had they not missed 12 lay-ups.
They could have won if they had made more than seven trips to the free throw line — 14 fewer than the Bears.
Although the Bulldogs cannot change the past, they can redeem themselves tonight. Yale travels to the Pizzitola Center in Providence for a rematch against the Bears.
Make no mistake, tonight’s game is not simply about redemption. The Bulldogs (5-9, 0-1 Ivy) are in search of their first Ivy League win. And with games against the killer P’s — Penn and Princeton — coming up next weekend, a loss tonight could easily turn into an 0-4 conference start for Yale.
“We need to pick up an Ivy League win,” head coach James Jones said. “I’m sure revenge is somewhere in the back of the guys’ minds, but what’s most important is the ‘W.'”
To avoid dropping a second contest to the Bears (5-9, 1-0) the Bulldogs will have to do a better job shooting the basketball among other things. Last Friday, Yale shot 39.7 percent, well below its league-leading 47.8 percent season average.
“We missed lay-ups,” Jones said. “There was a lot of contact and there were a few times I thought we were fouled, but we missed some easy ones. This is Division I college basketball — you can’t miss lay-ups.”
The Elis will also have to be more aggressive, and try to get to the foul line more often. Last weekend’s game was virtually decided from the charity stripe; Brown outscored Yale, 27-11, in free throws. An even more disconcerting statistic is the Bears’ 40-14 edge in free throw attempts.
“I’ve never had that happen to me on my home court,” Jones said. “In South Carolina, we only got six shots to their 26 but I expected that.”
One thing that will certainly benefit the Bulldogs is the return of center Dominick Martin ’05 to the starting lineup. Martin, the team leader in scoring (13.1) and rebounding (5.3), has been nursing an ankle sprain. Last Saturday, he played only 16 minutes — all after the first half — but still managed to score 10 points and grab seven boards.
Forward Sam Kaplan ’07, who has been out with a bad back, is expected to be available as well, Jones said.
Defensively, the key for Yale will be containing Jason Forte. The All-Ivy point guard had his way last Friday, collecting a game-high 26 points and five assists
“We have to stop him from penetrating,” Martin said. “He runs the offense for them. He’s the head of the monster. If you cut off the head, the rest will fall.”
Yale guard Alex Gamboa ’05 said the team has had a good week at practice and is optimistic about tonight’s game.
“No one’s head is down,” he said. “We’ve been working hard all week, trying to fix the things we did wrong last week. We’re excited to get another chance against Brown.”
NOTES: Two years ago, Yale lost its Ivy League opener to the Bears before going on to finish in a three-way tie for the conference championship with Penn and Princeton. The Bulldogs have lost their last four meetings against Brown.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”18492″ ]