The men’s basketball team will have a chance to confirm their Ivy League dominance this weekend.
After sweeping Brown in their last two weeks, the Bulldogs (9–7, 2–0 Ivy) will travel southwest for their annual Killer P’s trip. Tonight, the Bulldogs will face the Penn Quakers (6–8, 0–0) before they head to New Jersey for a Saturday evening game with the Princeton Tigers (12–4, 0–0). The weekend’s games will be both schools’ Ivy League openers.
The Bulldogs, who were picked to finish fifth in preseason polls, are currently the top team in the Ivy League standings, but they will have a better look at where they actually stand this weekend. Princeton and Penn were picked to finish first and fourth in the Ivy League, respectively.
The Bulldogs enter this weekend’s games after last Saturday’s 59–51 home victory over Brown. Midway through the first half with the game tied, the Elis went on a 13–0 run that gave them a commanding lead. Yale held the lead throughout the second half to emerge with its second consecutive win over Brown. Center Greg Mangano ’12 had 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks. Forward Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14 added 13 points and eight rebounds.
Yale’s first opponent, Penn, is coming off of a 73–61 win over St. Joseph’s. Quaker guard Tyler Bernardi exploded for a career-high 27 points against the Hawks. And while the Quakers are under .500 for the season, three of their losses came to top-12 nationally ranked teams including Pittsburgh, Villanova and Kentucky. Things get only tougher for the Bulldogs, as The Palestra, Penn’s home arena and an icon in college basketball, is averaging over 4,372 fans per game this season, tops in the Ivy League. In the Quakers’ Ivy League opener, the Bulldogs are likely to face a difficult environment.
On the court, Quaker guard Zack Rosen leads Penn with 15.4 points per game and 4.7 assists per game. The junior is third in the Ivy League in points per game and fourth in assists per game. Up front for Penn is 6’ 8” forward Jack Eggleston who is third in the Ancient Eight with 8.1 rebounds per game and leads all qualified players with a .471 three-point percentage. Much like Yale, Penn has a lot of scoring options. The Quakers have four players in double figures, and the Bulldogs will need to contain all of them.
In their last non-conference game of the season, the Tigers demolished the College of New Jersey 73–40 on Sunday. But Saturday’s match up with the Bulldogs should be a lot closer as the Bulldogs have the talent to handle the Tigers. Princeton forwards Ian Hummer and Keith Maddox are both averaging 13 points and six rebounds per game. Princeton also has two 13-point-per-game guards in Dan Mavraides and Douglas Davis.
But the Elis can counter with three-time Ivy League Player of the Week Mangano and his 14.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs also boast two double-digit scoring guards in Austin Morgan ’13 and Porter Braswell ’11.
The game could come down to the efficiency of Princeton offense versus the tenacity of the Yale defense. Princeton is averaging 70.9 points per game, second in the Ivy League, on 47.2 percent shooting, the Ivy’s best. On the other hand, the Bulldogs are allowing only 66.6 points per game, third in the conference, on 40.7 percent shooting, the lowest opponent’s field goal percentage in the Ancient Eight. Hummer and Maddox are among the conference leaders in field goal percentage, and Mangano, Kreisberg and forward Rhett Anderson ’12 will have their hands full with the Princeton big men.
If the Bulldogs were to win both games, they would move to 4–0 and into prime position for a run at an Ivy League championship. However, winning both will not be easy as the Bulldogs have lost both games of the Killer P’s trip six of the past nine years. And head coach James Jones know that this weekend will be difficult once again.
“We need to have a really good week of practice. And then go on the road and try to get something done down there,” Jones said after the team’s win against Brown on Saturday. “They are two tough environments to play in. Most teams aren’t successful down there, and we need to try to be.”
The Penn game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Friday night. The match up with Princeton begins Saturday at 6 p.m.