This is the weirdest Ivy League season I can remember. Continue reading
Inside this week: The results were rather boring, as home favorites rolled throughout the league. But here are three thoughts on how it transpired: Continue reading
Yale has had plenty of opportunities to make excuses this season if it wanted. Loss of three starters (all post players) to graduation? Sure. Preseason Ivy League Player of the Year Makai Mason (who only scored 31 in an NCAA upset of Baylor last March) gone with a broken foot in the preseason? Yeah, that works. Teams and opposing crowds taking aim at the current kings of the Ivy League? Why not? Letdown after finally breaking through to the NCAA Tournament after 54 years? Could make a case.
Except Yale doesn’t just not want to hear it, they’re taking those potential alibis and shoving them down the throat of the Ivy League in 2016-17. With a hard-fought, but impressive 87-78 win at Columbia, the Bulldogs are not only 4-1 in conference play, but if it gets a win Saturday night in Ithaca over Cornell, would be 5-1 with six of their remaining eight regular season contests in the friendly confines of Lee Amphitheater, where all the Bulldogs have done is won 21 straight games.
If you’re surprised that Yale looks like it will be in the Ivy League hunt once again until the end, they’re not. And they’re curious why you would be.
Everything was coming up Brown Friday night at Lee Amphitheater, as the Bears – who haven’t had a winning Ivy League record in nine seasons – were going to take a giant step toward that (and qualifying for the inaugural conference tournament) by ending Yale’s 20-game, 2-year long home win streak.
Brown was scoring at will, had plenty of swagger, Mike Martin was pumping his fists, the Yale crowd was quiet, and the Bears led 60-51 and had the ball with 10 minutes left, and there was nothing on either end of the floor that looked like a young Yale team was going to be to remedy the matter quickly.
Alex Copeland officially played 4.2% of possible minutes last season as a freshman for Yale, and even that is generous, perhaps 99% of that came in blowouts or just as the final horn was about to sound in a game already decided (yes, that’s Copeland entering as James Jones emptied his bench in the Ivy League clinching win over Columbia in March).
This season, Copeland expected his role to be increased after four seniors graduated. But point guard Makai Mason still remained, as did Trey Phills and Anthony Dallier, the next two on the Yale depth chart when practice opened in October.
James Jones knew, even if he did have a healthy Makai Mason playing for him, that he was going to have an extremely inexperienced team this season. But Jones forgot a little how painful the process of gaining that valuable commodity can be. Yale ranked 27th and 21st nationally in experience the last two seasons and played a big part in their 45 wins, two Ivy League titles, and last season’s NCAA Tournament victory.
This season: 280th. So you get stretches like the second half last week at Bryant where the Bulldogs blew a big second half lead and lost. And the first half Thursday at Sacred Heart, where Yale couldn’t execute a basic pick and roll and turned the ball over 11 times in 34 possessions.