A week after squeaking past Brown 68–64 at home, Yale will have a rematch with the Bears on the road Saturday.
Last week the Elis (11–4, 1–0 Ivy) trailed most of the game before captain Reggie Willhite ’12 got two successive steals and knocked down two shots to regain the lead for his team with less than a minute remaining in the second half. Forward Brandon Sherrod ’15 said that the close call against Brown (5–12, 0–1 Ivy) sent the team a message.
“It definitely gave us a wake-up call,” Sherrod said. “Anybody can beat anyone in this league. We just have to come out and put everyone away, especially the ones we know aren’t as talented as we are.”
One place where the Bulldogs’ talent is evident is in the post. The 6’10” Greg Mangano ’12 and 6’10” Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14 possess a height advantage over their Bear counterparts. Guard Austin Morgan ’13 said that the Bulldogs look to exploit that mismatch on Saturday.
Although Mangano was unable to top 20 points scored for only the second time in the last nine games, head coach James Jones said that he was not concerned. Instead, he is expecting more prodution from Kreisberg. After playing for the U-20 Israeli national team at the European Championships this summer, Kreisberg started off the season hot, averaging 9.5 points in the team’s first 10 games. “The Hebrew Hammer,” as he is called by his teammates, has cooled off recently, scoring only five points per game over the past five games.
“We think the world of him,” Jones said about Kreisberg. “We need to get him more involved.”
The Bears trotted out multiple defenses against the Bulldogs, but Jones said that they were able to deal with the different looks. The Elis are focusing on stopping Brown’s shooters after the Bears knocked down 12 three-pointers Saturday. Sherrod said that the team has been working on defending the three-point arc and closing out against shooters. He added that the Bulldogs want to make Brown’s players think twice about taking a shot against them.
Sherrod added that it will be a difficult environment to win at Brown, but that the Elis will be able to pull off the win if they execute.
When it comes to execution at the free-throw line, Yale possesses the best player in the nation in Morgan. As of Thursday, Morgan led Division I basketball with a .930 shooting percentage from the charity stripe. He hit all four of his free throws in the final minute Saturday to ice Brown. Morgan said that he often practices at the line after practice to simulate the fatigue of late-game situations.
“Fortunately I have been able to knock down some free throws,” the 5’11” guard said. “That is one time in the game when you take a shot unguarded, so I try to take advantage of that.”
The Elis tip off against Brown at 2 p.m. tomorrow.