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Bulldogs Set For Fairfield In Opening Round Of Post Season Tournament

Jeremiah Kreisberg (Ron Waite photo)
Jeremiah Kreisberg (Ron Waite photo)

Yale Making Its Fifth Appearance In Post Season Tournament

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldogs (19-9, 9-5 Ivy) will be making the fifth appearance in a post-season tournament in school history when they face Fairfield in the opening round of the Tournament. Tipoff on Wednesday at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport is slated for 7 p.m.

The game comes on the 10th anniversary of Yale's 67-65 victory over Rutgers in the 2002 NIT which was the first postseason tournament victory in school history. The Bulldogs have played in the NCAA Tournament three times (1949, 1957, 1962) and the NIT once (2002). Yale was invited to the College Basketball Invitational last year but had to decline because several players were overseas on pre-arranged educational trips. The Bulldogs enter postseason play with 19 overall wins, their most since the 2001-02 team won 21. Yale is trying to reach the 20-win mark for only the sixth time in school history. The Bulldogs haven't played since falling 68-47 at Penn on Mar. 3. Greg Mangano, who earned first team All-Ivy recognition for the second straight year, leads the Ivy League in rebounding (9.7 rpg.) and blocks (64) and is second in scoring (18.2 ppg.). Reggie Willhite, who set a school record with 63 steals, was named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.


2002 National Invitation Tournament (NIT)
Mar. 14, 2002 - Yale 67, Rutgers 65 (Piscataway, N.J.)
Mar. 19, 2002 - Tennessee Tech 80, Yale 61 (New Haven Coliseum)

1962 NCAA Tournament
Mar. 12, 1962 - Wake Forest 92, Yale 82 (Palestra, Philadelphia)
   Note: Wake Forest goes on to make its only Final Four appearance

1957 NCAA Tournament
Mar. 12, 1957 - North Carolina 90, Yale 74 (Madison Square Garden, N.Y.)

1949 NCAA Tournament
Mar. 21, 1949 - Illinois 71, Yale 67 (Madison Square Garden, N.Y.)
Mar. 22, 1949 - Villanova 78, Yale 67 (Madison Square Garden, N.Y.)


2012 marks the fourth postseason tournament. The CIT consists of six rounds and all games are played on campus sites. The championship game is set for Mar. 28 and will be televised on Fox College Sports. The other first-round games are: Robert Morris at Indiana State; Tennessee State at Mercer, Coastal Carolina at Old Dominion; Tennessee Tech at Georgia State; McNeese State at Toledo; Utah Valley at Weber State; Manhattan at Albany; Bowling Green at Oakland; Buffalo at American; North Dakota at Drake; Rice at UL-Lafayette; SCU Bakersfield at Utah State; UC Santa Barbara at Idaho; Cal State Fullerton at Loyola Marymount; Kent State at USC Upstate. The CIT will once again use the old NIT model in which matchups in future rounds are determined by the results of the previous round. The second round is set for Mar. 16-18. The quarterfinals are Mar. 19-21, the semifinals are Mar. 22-24.


For the first time in its history, the Ivy League has four teams advancing to postseason play with Harvard making its first trip to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship since 1946, Yale earning its first-ever appearance in the Tournament (CIT) and Penn and Princeton playing in the College Basketball Invitational presented by Zebra Pen (CBI). The Ivy League boasts multiple teams in the postseason for the fourth time in five years and has at least three teams continuing beyond the regular season for just the third time (2001-02, 2009-10 and 2011-12).


•  Austin Morgan is fourth in the nation in free throw shooting at 89.8 percent, which would be a new Yale single-season record. In the final five minutes of Yale's victories, Morgan is shooting 94.1 percent (32-of-34) from the foul line.

•  Reggie Willhite is 19th in the nation in steals per game (2.3).

•  Greg Mangano has scored at least 20 points in three of Yale's last five games. He has posted double-doubles in four of the last six games.

•  Jesse Pritchard has started the last six games. He scored a career-high 13 points in the home win over Cornell and grabbed five rebounds the night before against Columbia.


There is a familiar face on the Stags sideline. Head Coach Sydney Johnson is in his first year after guiding Princeton for four years. Fairfield enters the postseason with a 19-14 overall record after advancing to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) championship game. Senior Rakim Sanders and junior Desmond Wade earned a spot on the MAAC All-Tournament team. Sanders enters postseason as the team's top scorer and rebounder with 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Ryan Olander is next in line with 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.  


Yale and Fairfield are playing for the first time since 2007, a 70-66 overtime victory for the Bulldogs at Alumni Hall. Fairfield leads the series 12-9. Three of the 21 games between the teams have gone to overtime.


Two seniors who have helped Yale to its most overall wins in a decade were honored by the Ivy League. Greg Mangano, who leads the league in rebounding (9.7 rpg.) and blocks (64) and is second in scoring (18.2 ppg.), earned first team All-Ivy recognition for the second straight year, while Reggie Willhite, who leads the league with a single-season school record 63 steals, was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year. Willhite also was a second team All-Ivy selection. Mangano becomes only the seventh player in Yale history and the first since Paul Maley in 1987 and 1988 to earn multiple first team All-Ivy selections. Willhite is Yale's first Defensive Player of the Year. The award was instituted at the start of the 2008-09 season.


Greg Mangano will have the opportunity to showcase his skills for NBA scouts when he participates in the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational in April. Mangano will be one of the top seniors from across the nation to participate in a four-day, 12-game tournament in front of representatives from every NBA team. The Invitational runs from April 11-14 in Portsmouth, Va.


Two Yale players have earned Capital One Academic All-District I honors. Senior Reggie Willhite and junior Austin Morgan were both named to the first team. Willhite is a political science major, while Morgan is an architecture major. Both players have started all 28games for the Bulldogs.


Greg Mangano was a part of the 12-player roster that represented the United States in the 2011 World University Games in August in Shenzhen, China. In six games during the tournament, Mangano averaged 3.2 points and 3.2 rebounds. His top performance came against Mexico when he scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds. He added seven points, three rebounds and two blocks in the win over Finland. The team was coached by Purdue's Matt Painter. Joining Mangano on the Team USA roster were: Tim Abromaitis (Notre Dame); Marcus Denmon (Missouri); Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh); Draymond Green (Michigan State); JaMychal Green (Alabama); Scoop Jardine (Syracuse); John Jenkins (Vanderbilt); Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara); Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota); Ray McCallum (Detroit Mercy); and Darius Miller (Kentucky).


Jeremiah Kreisberg played for Israel at the Under-20 European Championships in July in in Sarajevo, Bosnia. He appeared in six games (he missed the last two games with a minor injury) and averaged 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds, while averaging nearly 30 minutes per game. He led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring. Kreisberg headed to Tel-Aviv in June, spent three weeks training with the Israel team and took part in the team's preparation tour through Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.


Mangano and Kreisberg weren't the only players to have interesting off seasons. Austin Morgan spent two months in Mauritius, an island nation off southeast coast of Africa, as an Eli-Africa fellow. He helped run an after school program for local children, teaching a class on health and fitness. Sam Martin was in Washington, D.C., interning for Senator Jack Reed of his home state of Rhode Island. Freshman Armani Cotton founded DOSA (Division One Student Athlete) Basketball Clinic. After gaining approval from the NCAA and the Ivy League, Cotton ran two week-long clinics in New York City and three in Lake Naomi, Pa. Cotton created the program in an attempt to deflate the idea that being valedictorian and a star athlete are mutually exclusive. DOSA focuses on the values of hard work and discipline as well as basketball IQ and Division I skills in order to challenge campers intellectually and physically.


Reggie Willhite trained with former Duke stars Christian Laettner and Grant Hill earlier this fall. Willhite's father heard an interview with Laettner on the radio. Laettner mentioned he was looking for some Division I players on the East Coast to train. Willhite's father reached out to Laettner, who agreed to train Willhite. Reggie spent two weekends working out with Laettner and Hill. Hill's father is legendary Yale football player Calvin Hill.


The John J. Lee Amphitheater, the home of Yale Basketball, was featured in ESPN The Magazine's College Basketball preview issue. The title of the feature is Grand Stands, the game marches on, but a dwindling number of college basketball cathedrals can still take us back to when it all began.

The Palestra in Philadelphia, Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse and Fordham's Rose Hill Gymnasium were the only other venues selected.

 "To walk through these gates and settle into these seats is to remember the game's roots," wrote LaRue Cook. "Because sometimes sports aren't about results – they're about beauty and style and being connected to something bigger than the game."

Lee Amphitheater sits inside historic Payne Whitney Gym, which was constructed in 1931 under the direction of John Russell Pope. Yale's first basketball game was played there on Dec. 18, 1932, and it has been the home of the Bulldogs ever since.


Joe Vancisin, Yale's all-time winningest men's basketball coach, was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Nov. 20. Vancisin guided the Bulldogs for 19 seasons and won three Ivy League titles.

Vancisin, who entered as a contributor, joined players Ralph Sampson, James Worthy, Cazzie Russell and Chris Mullin, coaches Bob Knight and Eddie Sutton and fellow contributor Eddie Einhorn in the induction class of 2011.

Vancisin took over at Yale in 1956-57 and promptly led the Bulldogs to the first official Ivy League title. Yale then lost to North Carolina 90-74 in the NCAA Tournament at Madison Square Garden. The Bulldogs returned to the NCAA Tournament in 1961-62, dropping a heartbreaking 92-82 decision to a Wake Forest team that went on to advance to the Final Four. Yale shared the Ivy title in 1962-63 but fell to Princeton in a playoff game.

Vancisin, who had a 206-242 record as the Bulldogs' head coach, left Yale in 1975 to become the NABC's executive director for 17 years before his retirement in 1992.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity