With a lineup featuring up to four seniors on any given night, the men’s basketball team is going through a period of transition.
The departure of the team captain, the league leader in blocked shots and a set of twins will leave a large gap in the lineup for head coach James Jones to fill.
Captain and guard Eric Flato ’08 has led the Bulldogs as point guard and recently recorded his 1,000th point, against Portland in January. Matt Kyle ’08 pulls down boards for the Bulldogs and is an unmistakable target inside the paint. The center hopes to play basketball in Europe. Nick Holmes ’08 and Caleb Holmes ’08 have been mainstays on the court and provide strong support on the perimeter and excellent efficiency from the field.
“Its hard,” Caleb Holmes said of the quickly approaching end of his basketball career, “because basketball is something I’ve done my entire life. Especially because it’s been a disappointing season. It’s just going to be disappointing.”
With the seniors saying goodbye to the Payne Whitney Gymnasium, four starting spots will be up for grabs in the 2008-’09 season. Two solid juniors, Ross Morin ’09 and Travis Pinick ’09, are primed to take on even more prominence after filling significant roles on the court this year. Guards Ari Greenberg ’09 and recently recuperated Chris Andrews ’09 should add flavor to the mix in the coming year.
But the team’s talented sophomores and freshmen refuse to be overlooked, having made major contributions to the Elis this season. Guards Porter Braswell ’11 and Alex Zampier ’10 provide a spark of energy and points off the bench, while center Paul Nelson ’10 is the heir to Kyle’s job.
“Eric and the twins and Matt are all great players, and it’s not going to be easy to fill their spots,” Morin said. “But I have a lot of faith in the young guys.”
With the Bulldogs out of the running in the Ancient Eight and left with just four games to play, the lineup may be reordered to prepare the young players for next year. But Jones was adamant that the Elis’ focus will be on winning the coming matches.
“I won’t be thinking about anything for next year,” he said. “We’re going to go in and finish this year off and try to be the best team we can be.”
Yale is at a dead end in the conference. But there are four games left to play, and they carry special importance for the four soon-to-be grads.
A pair at home against the Killer Ps will make for an interesting senior weekend — the Bulldogs split a set against the two squads two weeks ago. The match at Princeton was the last the Elis won before beginning a three-game skid at Penn the next night.
“I think everybody just wants to win the last four and play as well as possible,” Caleb Holmes said. “We’ve been struggling quite a bit, but we just need to play well and end on a good note for us seniors.”
The squad has suffered from streaks of solid defense and poor offensive production, and vice versa. To record four more wins and bring their average above .500 in the Ancient Eight, the Bulldogs need to put together a complete game, players said.
“We’re still trying to win games,” Morin said. “These are winnable games, and we’re looking forward to playing at home. It’s senior weekend, and these seniors have given a lot to the program and we want to send them off with a couple of wins.”