The men’s basketball team will begin its season tonight against the Blue Devils of Central Connecticut State University.

The teams will face off as part of the 2011 Connecticut 6 Classic. Yale has lost both of its previous Connecticut 6 games, including an 84–75 loss to Quinnipiac University last year. At the Tip-Off Breakfast held Nov. 8 at the Hartford Marriott Downtown, head coach Howie Dickenman of Central Connecticut said that he knows his team will face a veteran Yale squad this year. He added that 10 of 11 players from last year’s Bulldogs improved their shooting percentages from the 2009-’10 season to the 2010-’11 season, demonstrating the great job that Yale head coach James Jones has done with the Elis. Dickenman said that his team would try and create scoring opportunities against the Bulldogs.

“We will pressure,” Dickenman said. “We will play full court man-to-man [defense].”

The pressure could prove troublesome for the Elis, as Jones said that the Bulldogs have been turning the ball over too much in scrimmages this preseason.

When Jones spoke at the breakfast, he said Central Connecticut would be a challenge for the Elis as in a scrimmage last year, Yale struggled against the Blue Devils. This year, the Bulldogs will play a man-to-man defense to make it difficult for Central Connecticut to get open shots. Jones added that Central Connecticut senior forward Ken Horton would be a player to watch. Horton averaged a Northeast Conference-leading 19.5 points per game last season on his way to being selected as the NEC Player of the Year.

Guard Austin Morgan ’13 agreed that the tournament provides a good opportunity to play against other teams within the state.

The tournament includes six Division I teams from across the state. Along with Yale and Central Connecticut, Quinnipiac, the University of Hartford, Sacred Heart University and Fairfield University also compete in the Classic. Basketball powerhouse University of Connecticut does not participate in the tournament. University of Hartford President Walter Harrison said that although UConn gets most of the attention in Connecticut, the Classic helps to showcase that Connecticut has more than one competitive Division I basketball program.

“We’re looking forward to a great tournament,” Harrison said. “Great games, and shining light on the great basketball right here at home.”

The Bulldogs won their last meeting against the Blue Devils 71–59 in 2002.