Bulldogs Visit No. 25 Cornell, Columbia

Reggie Willhite (photo by Don Clark,Yale Sports Publicity)
Reggie Willhite (photo by Don Clark,Yale Sports Publicity)

Zampier Closing In On 1,000 Career Points

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Cornell, which is ranked 25th in this week's ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, has not been seriously challenged in its first four Ivy League games of 2010. The Bulldogs will take their shot at the two-time defending league champions on Friday in Ithaca. Yale then heads to New York City to meet Columbia on Saturday. Both games begin at 7 p.m. Perimeter defense will be a key to success for the Bulldogs, who have won four of their last six games. Both Cornell (2nd, 42.0 percent) and Columbia (9th, 41.2 percent) are ranked in the top-10 nationally in three-point field goal percentage. Yale did well in that area last weekend. In the victory over Penn, the Bulldogs allowed the Quakers to make only 1-of-18 three-point shots. The next night Princeton was only 3-of-8 from three-point range. Alex Zampier, who leads the Ivy League in scoring (17.8 ppg.), needs 22 points to become the 23rd player in school history to score 1,000 career points. Zampier also has 157 career steals, which ties him with Daniel Okonkwo for the most all-time at Yale. Michael Sands, who leads the team in rebounding (6.0 rpg.), is averaging 12.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in the last seven games. The Bulldogs lead the Ivy League in offensive rebounds (12.1 per game) and are second in blocked shots (4.6 per game).


The Bulldogs have swept the Cornell-Columbia road weekend three times during James Jones' tenure as head coach at Yale. Home court has been an important factor in recent games with Cornell. The Bulldogs have won seven of the last eight meetings with the Big Red at Lee Amphitheater but have lost five straight in Ithaca. Saturday is the 13th meeting between Jones and his younger brother Joe, who is in his seventh year as the head coach at Columbia. Yale has won seven of the games.


The Big Red (18-3, 4-0 Ivy) has won its first four Ivy League games by an average of 29.2 points and is nationally ranked for the first time since 1951. Cornell (76.2 ppg.) leads the Ivy League in scoring offense and features the league's second leading scorer - Ryan Wittman (17.5 ppg.) -- leading rebounder - Jeff Foote (8.4 rpg.) - and leading assist man - Louis Dale (5.0 apg.). The Big Red has won 16 of its last 17 games. The only loss during the stretch was a 71-66 decision at No. 1 Kansas.


The Lions (7-11, 1-3 Ivy) host Brown on Friday night. Columbia opened Ivy play with a pair of losses to Cornell and a loss to Harvard before knocking off Dartmouth last Saturday. Noruwa Agho leads Columbia in scoring (17.0 ppg.), minutes played (34.0 per game), three-pointers (44) and steals (29). He is the only player scoring in double figures. Brian Grimes tops the team in rebounding (6.3 rpg.). Ten different players have started at least one game for the Lions.


In the victory over Penn, Yale shot 53.5 percent from the field and held the Quakers to 35.8 percent. The next night against Princeton, the numbers were reversed. The Bulldogs shot only 35 percent, while Princeton made 51.1 percent of its shots.

Porter Braswell matched his career high with 14 points against Penn. He was 4-of-6 from the field, including 2-for-4 from three-point range, and added four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 28 minutes.

Yale scored the first 11 points against Penn and never relinquished the lead.

Michael Sands went to the free throw line a season-high 11 times against Princeton. He finished with 14 points and six rebounds.

The Tigers won at Lee Amphitheater for the first time since 2006.


The Bulldogs were picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League preseason media poll, released on Oct. 28 during a media teleconference. Yale has finished higher than projected in three of the last four years. Two-time defending champion Cornell is the overwhelming favorite. The Big Red received all 16 first-place votes. Princeton is second followed by Penn and Harvard. Columbia (sixth), Brown and Dartmouth round out the poll. The Bulldogs, who finished in a tie for second place with Princeton last year, lose four starters but return Alex Zampier, an honorable mention All-Ivy selection. Zampier led the Ivy League in free throw percentage (.848) and was eighth in scoring (13.2 ppg.) and second in steals (1.6 per game). In addition, Yale welcomes back four other players who averaged at least 10 minutes per game.

2009-10 Ivy League Men's Basketball Preseason Media Poll

1. Cornell - 128 points (16 first-place votes)
2. Princeton - 96
3. Penn - 92
4. Harvard - 86
5. Yale - 59
6. Columbia - 55
7. Brown - 41
8. Dartmouth - 19


The state of Connecticut has a rich basketball tradition. A new chapter in that history starts this season with the formation of the Connecticut 6, a partnership between six of Connecticut's Division I schools - Yale, Central Connecticut, Fairfield, Hartford, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart. The inaugural Connecticut 6 Classic tripleheader was Nov. 13 at the Arena at Harbor Yard. The Classic moves to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville in 2010. In addition to the tripleheader, a preseason All-Connecticut 6 team was selected and there will be a Connecticut 6 Player of the Week chosen each week during the season.


James Jones has made quite an impact on the Yale basketball program. In 10 seasons, Jones has guided Yale to success not seen in New Haven in 40 years. In 2001-02, Jones led the Bulldogs to their first Ivy League title since 1962-63 and the first postseason tournament victory in the 107-year history of Yale basketball. The team won 21 games, the second most in the modern era of Yale basketball, and reached the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. Jones, the longest tenured coach in the Ivy League, earned his 100th victory at Yale when the Bulldogs beat Columbia on Feb. 9, 2007. He is only the fourth coach in school history with at least 100 wins. The Bulldogs have won at least 10 Ivy games twice during his tenure and have had a .500 or better record in league play in each of the last nine years. Three assistant coaches who worked under Jones have gone on to become head coaches - Isaiah Cavaco (Oberlin), Mark Sembrowich (Academy of Arts University) and Mark Gilbride (Clarkson).Jones served as an assistant coach to Villanova's Jay Wright for the 2007 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team.


Six Yale graduates, all coached by James Jones, are currently playing professional basketball. Edwin Draughan '05 (FOS Ouest, France), Dominick Martin '06 (Illescas CLM, Spain), Matt Kyle '08 (Tunisia), Eric Flato '08 (Plymouth Raiders, England) and Ross Morin '09 (SAM Massagno, Switzerland) are playing overseas, while Travis Pinick '09 was was selected in the eighth round of the 2009 NBA D-League Draft by the Los Angeles D-Fenders.


• The 2009-10 schedule features 31 regular season games, including 12 in the friendly confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater. It will mark the most games Yale has played in a season since 2001-02 when the Bulldogs finished 21-11.
• The Bulldogs made their second appearance in the Preseason NIT. Yale fell to No. 1 ranked UConn in the tournament to open the 2003-04 season. The Bulldogs played four games in this year's tournament.
• The game with Quinnipiac on Nov. 21 capped a busy day on the Yale campus. The 126th edition of the Yale-Harvard football game was played at noon at Yale Bowl. Yale and Quinnipiac had met only once before, an 87-69 Bobcat win in 1999 in the Phoenix Classic at the Hartford Civic Center.
• Senior Alex Zampier had a homecoming when the Bulldogs visited Albany on Jan. 3. Zampier, an East Greenbush, N.Y., native, graduated as the second all-time leading scorer at Columbia High School with 1,381 points. Yale head coach James Jones is a 1996 Albany graduate. He played for and coached with the legendary Dr. Richard Sauers, one of only seven coaches to win more than 700 games.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity