The four seniors on the Yale men’s basketball team will graduate with a number of impressive accomplishments. They played important roles in the Bulldogs’ first Ivy League title since 1962-63, the first postseason victory in Eli hoops history, and a school record for most points by a team in a season. There is one thing, however, that they cannot claim: a win at either Princeton’s Jadwin Gym or the University of Pennsylvania’s Palestra.
Yale (9-14, 4-6 Ivy) had double digit leads in both games this weekend, but could not hang on for an away victory against either of the “Killer P’s.” Princeton (15-7, 8-1) pounded the Bulldogs 70-58 Friday. The following evening, Yale played Penn (13-9, 6-3) much more closely, but still fell 69-61.
“Ball penetration really killed us this weekend,” Yale center Dominick Martin ’05 said. “Once [opponents] drive, either they’re going to make it or get fouled, and we foul a lot.”
Martin, who transferred from Princeton after his freshman season, picked up two early fouls Friday night and only played 11 minutes against his former teammates. His counterpart Judson Wallace torched Yale for 29 points and nine rebounds, but both Yale head coach James Jones and Eli captain Matt Minoff ’04 agreed that few of Wallace’s points came from one-on-one post moves.
“A lot of [Wallace’s points] really weren’t the post man’s fault,” Minoff said. “It was the guards’ fault. We let our men get into the lane and get penetration and then the post men had to step up and [Wallace] got a lot of easy lay-ups. We didn’t do a good job of keeping [the perimeter players] in front of us.”
Princeton guard Will Venable, whose last-second lay-up bested the Elis in their home match against the Tigers, had 13 points, five rebounds, and three steals, including a back-breaker at the end of the first half.
“We allowed them to score the last seven points of the first half [all scored by Venable] in a minute,” Jones said. “Will Venable made a 3-point shot and then he got a steal with a few seconds to go and got another score. That really started the run [for Princeton].”
Though the Tigers opened the second half with a 16-4 run, the Elis managed to tie the score with just over 11 minutes to go on a 3-pointer from guard Alex Gamboa ’05. Two quick 3-pointers put the boys from Old Nassau up six, and the margin would grow no smaller.
Gamboa led the team with 12 points and forward Paul Vitelli ’04 added 10 along with a team-best six rebounds.
Saturday night against Penn, Minoff smothered Quaker guard Jeff Schiffner again, but four other Penn players scored in double digits to secure the win.
“We did a pretty good job on their two best perimeter players [Schiffner and Tim Begley],” Jones said. “It was a good effort but it wasn’t good enough to win.”
After facing the “traitor” and “we don’t want you” chants from the Princeton student section on Friday, Martin — who said he would have expected nothing less from the Tiger faithful — had a dominant performance against Penn. Martin grabbed seven rebounds and made nine of his 14 attempts to lead both squads with 20 points.
“[Martin] was pretty unstoppable,” Minoff said. “They chose not to double team him. Maybe they just figured that we’ll let him score and try to contain the guards. When it’s one-on-one down there he’s going to score on you 60 percent of the time.”
Two free throws from guard Edwin Draughan ’05 with six minutes to go brought the Elis within two, but Penn’s Charlie Copp responded with a long-range basket that stalled the Bulldog comeback.
“Copp hit a big three on a missed assignment,” Jones said. “One of the few [missed assignments of the game]. After Copp hit that 3-point shot we had numerous wide open shots that we missed. We didn’t hit a 3-point shot until the last minute of the game.”
Penn freshmen Mark Zoller and Ibrahim Jaaber scored 12 and eight points, respectively. The recent play of these two Ivy virgins has caused a slight stir in what previously looked like an unanimous choice of Dartmouth’s Leon Pattman for Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
“I think Zoller definitely can [win the Rookie of the Year],” Martin said. “But on skill alone, I think [Jaaber’s] the best. Pattman is a good player on a bad team, so I don’t know if you can really compare [Zoller and Jaaber with Pattman].”
Though Minoff said that he did not think anyone had a particularly impressive weekend for the Elis, Jones did mention that forward Sam Kaplan ’07 was probably the most consistent contributor. According to Jones, Kaplan and Casey Hughes ’07 have put up similar numbers to those of Zoller and Jaaber.
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