Yale is a feisty little team, and were picked to finish second in the Ivy League this season after finishing second last season to the recent power of Pennsylvania. In fact, the last time neither Penn or Princeton, the "Killer P's" as it were, won the Ivy League (and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament) was the 1988-89 season. Or, in other words, the year after we won the National Championship.
Still, Cornell and Yale were both predicted, by media writers before a single shot was taken, to pass both Princeton and Penn in the standings. However, the Bulldogs of Yale have struggled out to a 3-6 start to the season, picking up their wins against Sacred Heart, Fairfield and Vermont. None of their losses are bad, however, and they played Stanford fairly close, losing by only 11 points in Palo Alto.
They play a 'slowdown style', minimizing their lack of athletes by playing tough defense and knocking down shots. They are led by senior Eric Flato, a 6'1" guard who is averaging 12.1 points a game, which leads the team. He is prone to turning the ball over (4.2 a game), but forces turnovers himself (2.2 steals a game) and is incredibly proficient from the charity stripe (94%). The Yale Bulldogs really only have one threat from behind the three-point line, and that is Caleb Holmes, a 6'6" senior G/F from nearby Olathe, Kansas. He is shooting over 52% from the three-point line so far this season. Their inside game is led by 6'7" forward Ross Morin (5.1 rebounds a game) and 6'10" center Matt Kyle (4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks a game).
They have what is basically a 8 man rotation, consisting of:
G Eric Flato
G/F Caleb Holmes
G/F Nick Holmes (also from Olathe; Caleb's twin)
G/F Travis Pinick
G Alexander Zampier
F Garrett Fidler
F Ross Morin
C Matt Kyle
Keys to the Game:
1) No Open Threes --> Three-pointers are how teams like Yale stay in the game against teams like Kansas, they are "the great equalizer", as the saying goes. We don't give them any open looks from the perimeter, especially their specialist Caleb Holmes, and we should waltz to a victory.
2) Drive and Kick --> Too often we have taken the ball down the court, thrown it around the exterior of a zone defense, then fired up a long shot. This won't work against good teams consistently, if at all, and it needs to be worked out of our offense. Either get the ball down low to DA or Sasha or Darnell or drive and kick, but don't walk down and shoot a perimeter shot without trying anything else.
3) Shake off the Rust Early --> This is 4 days after Christmas. They had a long layoff. We will probably come out really rusty, which is expected and tolerable. However, the longer it takes us to get into our groove the longer the Yale Bulldogs can stay in the game, and success breeds confidence. By the halfway mark of the first half, we need a double digit lead, then slowly build it up throughout the rest of the game.
Use this as your open thread for today's game. I will be back a little later on, most likely after tonight's game, to bring you Part 2 of the Orange Bowl preview. Part 1 sucked, I know, but from now on they will actually deal with pressing issues. Like how we will win, etc...