The men’s basketball team boasts the highest-powered offense in the Ivy League, which has helped the Bulldogs to an undefeated start in conference play. That stellar offense, in turn, has been largely due to the play of point guard Javier Duren ’15 and forward Justin Sears ’16.
Yale (13–6, 2–0 Ivy) is the only team thus far that came away from its completed travel series unscathed, as both Harvard and Columbia suffered losses in their second weekend of Ancient Eight play.
“We are playing Bulldog basketball on both sides of the ball,” Duren said. “On offense, we’re moving the ball. We’ve had some really, really great offensive possessions … We work on getting certain shots in practice, so it helps a lot when you can replicate that in a game and get guys to where they are most comfortable on the floor.”
The experienced core of players on the court has resulted in the highest-scoring offense in the league at 70.0 points per game. Yale is shooting 71.7 percent from the free throw line, the third-best rate in conference, to go along with 36.4 percent from beyond the arc, second best in the Ivy League.
More importantly, the Elis currently have a 1.09 assist-to-turnover ratio, buoyed by the team’s league-leading 14.6 assists per game.
“In practice, we really work on reversing the ball, basically having everybody touch [the ball],” guard Jack Montague ’16 said. “When we move the ball like we have been doing in games, it’s really hard to guard … the defense is not used to guarding for 25 or 30 seconds into the shot clock, and it’s really helped our offense.”
It also helps that the Elis have two of the most prolific scorers in the conference, who have combined for five Ivy League Player of the Week awards. Both Duren and Sears have stepped up their games during the conference portion of the season, with Duren averaging 21.5 points per game and Sears tallying 21.0 points per game.
The two together have proven to be a dangerous combination. Against Brown last weekend, Duren and Sears combined for 51 of the team’s 69 points, or 73.9 percent. Spending more than three quarters of the game together on the court, Duren and Sears carried the team in the second half, feeding off each other’s game.
“We definitely complement each other,” Sears said. “If I catch the ball in the middle, I draw a lot of double teams, so I can kick it out to [Duren]. He’s done a great job of penetrating and then looking for me, whether it be going up to the rim or just getting the ball to the rim so that I can rebound it.”
Sears and Duren have contributed roughly 57 percent of the team’s points scored this year, but even with two of the most dominant players in the league, both are just part of an offense that happens to be clicking at the right moments.
Montague noted that it is fun to play with the two because they are unselfish and make scoring easier for everyone. Duren added that the team is extremely versatile, and that the offense can come from anyone on any given night because the Elis share the ball well.
“We’re looking for each other, everyone’s unselfish, Javier’s been passing the ball well and the coaches have been harping on us to reduce our turnovers,” Sears said. “Put all those together, and that’s why we’ve had so much success.”
The team will look for Duren and Sears to continue to play well, anchoring the team’s offense, as the Bulldogs head to New York with matchups against Columbia and Cornell this weekend.