November 8, 2010

2010-11 Season Preview: Balancing Act – Bulldogs Ready To Kick Off Campaign

Opener Saturday Against Quinnipiac At Connecticut 6 Classic

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Scoring balance has been one of the most common traits of the Yale men's basketball team under the direction of James Jones, who is entering is entering his 12th season as The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach. Last year was an exception. Alex Zampier led the team with a 17.4 scoring average, the highest at Yale since Paul Maley averaged 20.2 points in 1987-88. The results were still there as the Bulldogs finished in the top half of the Ivy League for the 10th straight year. Zampier, though, has graduated so Yale figures to return to a more well-rounded attack in 2010-11. The Bulldogs kick off the season on Saturday against Quinnipiac in the Connecticut 6 Classic at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

"No one player can replace what Alex did for us as an individual," Jones said. "Our scoring will have to be handled by the entire group."

Fortunately for Jones, there are a number of candidates, led by senior Michael Sands, who had a breakout season a year ago, earning honorable mention All-Ivy recognition after improving his scoring average by more than seven points (3.3 ppg. to 10.8 ppg.) from the previous year.

Here is a breakdown of the Bulldogs:

FRONTCOURT

Sands was one of only two players to start all 31 games last year. He finished fourth in the Ivy League in rebounding (6.1 rpg.) and was sixth in field goal percentage (.493). Junior Greg Mangano showed his potential last year after battling through an early-season injury, posting double-doubles in Ivy League wins over Brown (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Columbia (12 points, 10 rebounds). He led the league in blocked shots (2.0 per game, 50) and tied for fifth in rebounding (5.5 rpg.). In two years, Mangano is already ninth in school history with 63 career blocked shots.

Junior Rhett Anderson also is a presence on the inside. He appeared in a career-high 23 games last year and was the recipient of the team's Josh Hill Award for hard work and dedication.

A pair of freshmen hope to contribute as well. Jeremiah Kreisberg (Berkeley, Calif.) averaged 24 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks as a senior at the Head-Royce School. Greg Kelley (Newton, Mass.) was the Massachusetts Division 1 South Player of the Year as a senior at Newton North High School.

"On paper our inside game will be what drives this team offensively," Jones said. "I expect that our frontcourt will play tough and hard and not be overpowered by anyone."

BACKCOURT

Senior Porter Braswell is one of the most experienced point guards in the Ivy League, having started 45 games in his career. Last year he finished 10th in the Ivy League in assists (75, 2.4 per game), tied for second on the team in steals (29) and was third in three-pointers (20). Sophomore Michael Grace should see time at the point as well. He appeared in 29 games last year and was third on the team in assists.

Sophomore Austin Morgan should help fill the scoring void created by Zampier's graduation. He received the John C Cobb Award as the team's top freshman after starting 12 games and finishing second in three-pointers. Morgan can play the point or at shooting guard. Senior Raffi Mantilla and junior Brian Katz could emerge as key outside threats. Mantilla established career highs in games played (27), points (65) and three-pointers (14) last year, while Katz showed his potential in the season finale against Cornell when he scored eight points.

Junior Reggie Willhite, an athletic wing, is perhaps the team's best defender. Last year he was fourth on the team in steals with 27 and blocks with 13. Willhite should contribute offensively as well. Sophomore Sam Martin is a candidate to help fill the outside shooting void created by Zampier's graduation. Alfonso Costa, a senior who also plays lacrosse at Yale, adds depth to the backcourt.

Three freshmen will try to earn playing time. Will Bartlett (New York, N.Y.) was a 1,500-point scorer at the Collegiate School. Jesse Pritchard (Ames, Iowa) comes to Yale after a year at Blair Academy where he was a first team all-state selection. Isaiah Salafia (Cromwell, Conn.) is Cromwell High School's second leading all-time scorer.

"My hope is that our backcourt can control the game from baseline to baseline," Jones said.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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