Game Day Central: Isaiah Cavaco ‘01 Brings His Oberlin Team To Lee Amphitheater

Final Non-League Game For Bulldogs

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The final non-conference game of the season for the Bulldogs brings a visit from Oberlin on Saturday. Tipoff at the John J. Lee Amphitheater is slated for 2 p.m.

There will be a familiar face on the sidelines for the Yeomen. Oberlin head coach Isaiah Cavaco is a 2001 Yale graduate. He was a four-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs from 1998 to 2001. As a freshman, he was the recipient of the John C. Cobb Award as the team's top rookie. He started the very first game of his Yale career against UConn at the Hartford Civic Center. In his sophomore year, he led the team in three-pointers (36) and assists (72). His assist total was eighth in the Ivy League. Injuries limited him in his junior and senior seasons. Following graduation, he spent one year as a graduate assistant coach at Ohio University before returning to Yale as an assistant coach under James Jones for the 2002-03 season. Cavaco is in his seventh season at Oberlin.

Yale is coming off a 79-58 loss to No. 9/13 Florida last Sunday, one of many challenging non-league games. The Bulldogs (5-11) have played the 24th toughest schedule in all of Division I according to the Jeff Sagarin NCAA basketball ratings. Twelve of Yale's 16 opponents currently have a winning overall record. The Bulldogs kick off Ivy League play next Saturday at Brown. Yale has five of its first six league games away from home. Austin Morgan (11.6 ppg.) continues to lead the team in scoring. Justin Sears is averaging 10.8 points and a team-best 6.4 rebounds. Yale averages an Ivy League best 13.3 offensive rebounds per game.

WHO'S HOT

•  Sophomores Armani Cotton and Javier Duren have both been playing well. Cotton posted his first double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, both career highs, in the 61-54 victory at Holy Cross. He followed that up by scoring 12 points against Florida. In his last three games, Cotton is shooting 70.6 percent (12-of-17) from the field. Duren is averaging 10.5 points in his last three games. He scored a career-high 14 points last Sunday against Florida.

•  Yale's bench has outscored its opponents reserves in three of the last four games. The most notable performance came against Holy Cross when the Bulldogs had a remarkable 37-1 advantage in bench points. Yale's reserves also had the edge against Florida (19-12).

•  Justin Sears held his own against Florida's big front line, scoring a team-high 15 points. He was 7-of-11 from the field and contributed four steals in 22 minutes. Sears is fifth in the Ivy League in rebounding (6.4 rpg.) and sixth in field goal percentage (.489).

HISTORY LESSONS

Isaiah Cavaco is bringing his Oberlin team to New Haven for the second time. The Bulldogs beat the Yeomen 91-47 in 2008. The two teams also played in 1907, a 34-27 Yale victory.

FLORIDA RECAP

Yale stayed with ninth-ranked Florida for much of Sunday's game at the sold John J. Lee Amphitheater. All it took, though, was a brief lapse from the Bulldogs for the Gators to seize control. Florida scored the final nine points of the first half and then started the second half with a 12-0 run en route to a 79-58 victory before an enthusiastic crowd of 2,532. The Gators certainly showed the large gathering why they are legitimate national title contenders. Kenny Boynton was 8-of-10 from three-point range and finished with a game-high 28 points to lead Florida. Will Yeguete added 14 points and Mike Rosario scored 13. The Gators shot 65.4 percent (17-of-26) from the field in the second half. Justin Sears paced Yale with 15 points, Javier Duren scored 14 and Armani Cotton contributed 12. The Bulldogs (5-11) trailed by only one, 21-20, with 5:28 left in the first half, and after the Gators quick start to the second half, Yale stayed even with them over the final 18 minutes. The Bulldogs shot 50 percent (12-of-24) from the field in the second half and were only outrebounded by the bigger Gators 29-24 in the game.

SCOUTING OBERLIN

The Yeomen (4-9) are playing their third game this week. They fell to Wittenberg 59-47 on Monday and dropped a 79-75 decision at Allegheny on Wednesday. Geoff Simpson, a Simsbury, Conn., native, leads the team in scoring at 14.5 ppg. Andrew Fox (12.8 ppg., 10.9 rpg.) averages a double-double.

YALE PICKED SIXTH IN PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

The Bulldogs have finished fourth or better in the Ivy League in each of the last 12 years. That didn't earn Yale much respect in the preseason Ivy League media poll, which projected a sixth-place finish for the Bulldogs. Yale, though, has a history of proving the prognosticators wrong. In five of the last seven years, the Bulldogs have finished higher than projected.

2012-13 IVY LEAGUE MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

First-Place Votes in Parentheses

Rank       School............................................ Points

1.             Princeton (16)..................................... 134

2.             Harvard (1)......................................... 109

3.             Columbia.............................................. 90

4.             Cornell................................................. 80

5.             Penn.................................................... 74

6.             Yale...................................................... 55

7.             Brown.................................................. 50

8.             Dartmouth........................................... 20

MEET THE NEWCOMERS

The 2012-13 Yale roster features four freshmen. Khaliq Bedart-Ghani (Inglewood, CA), Jack Montague (Brentwood, TN), Justin Sears (Plainfield, NJ) and Nick Victor (Dallas, TX) all bring strong credentials. Bedart-Ghani led Loyola High School in California in rebounding and blocks as a senior last winter. Montague was the district, region and county most valuable player as a senior at Brentwood High School. He averaged 17.0 points and seven assists and scored more than 1,200 career points. Sears earned first team all-state, all-area and all-county honors as a senior at Plainfield High School in New Jersey. He scored 1,048 points and grabbed 1,063 rebounds in his career to become only the second player in school history to score over 1,000 points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds. He helped lead Plainfield to two New Jersey Tournament of Champion title games where it lost to national power St. Anthony's both times. Victor spent one year at the Winchendon School and earned NEPSAC honorable mention recognition. At Lovejoy High School in Dallas, Texas, he was the 2010 District most valuable player.

2012-13 SCHEDULE NOTES

•  The Bulldogs didn't play their first home game until Saturday, Nov. 24 against Army. That was the first of 12 games in the friendly confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

•  Yale played in the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The first game was at Saint Joseph, the Atlantic 10 preseason favorite. The Bulldogs then headed to Evansville, Ind., for three games, against Evansville, Buffalo and Western Illinois.

•  Yale faced a very challenging three-game road trip right after Christmas. The Bulldogs travelled to Nevada, Saint Mary's and Iowa State. The trip to Nevada was a homecoming for Reno native Austin Morgan, Jeremiah Kreisberg hails from Berkeley, Calif., a short distance from the Saint. Mary's campus while the trip to Iowa State was a homecoming for Ames, Iowa, native Jesse Pritchard.

•  The biggest test of the season, though, may come in Lee Amphitheater when preseason No. 10 Florida visited on Jan. 6. The Gators return three starters from a squad that went 26-11 and fell one game shy of the Final Four last year.

•  The Florida game was one of two in the Amphitheater that will be nationally televised. The NBC Sports Network was in town for the game with the Gators, while CBS Sports Television will show the home game with Harvard on Feb. 23.

•  Yale kicks off Ivy League play on Jan. 19 at Brown. Five of the first six Ivy games will be on the road.

WILLHITE DRAFTED IN 5TH ROUND OF NBA D-LEAGUE DRAFT

Reggie Willhite, the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year last year as a senior at Yale, was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NBA Development League Draft on Nov. 2. Willhite was selected by the Reno Bighorns with the fifth pick in the fifth round. He was the 70th player chosen overall. Willhite becomes the third Yale player to be drafted by a D-League team. Alex Zampier '10 was chosen in the seventh round of the 2012 draft by the New Mexico Thunderbirds and Travis Pinick '09 was taken in the eighth round of the 2009 draft by the Los Angeles D-Fenders Willhite enjoyed an outstanding career for the Bulldogs. As a senior, he earned second team All-Ivy recognition, set a single-season school record with 65 steals and was 17th in the nation in steals (2.24 per game). Willhite joins a long list of players that have earned professional opportunities during James Jones' tenure as the head coach at Yale. Ted Smith (England), Matt Minoff (Israel), Paul Vitelli (Italy), Dominick Martin (Spain), Matt Kyle (Portugal), Caleb Holmes (Iceland), Ross Morin (Switzerland), Eric Flato (England), Greg Mangano (Turkey) and Edwin Draughan (France) have all played overseas. Zampier, Pinick and Neil Yanke (tryout with Los Angeles Lakers) both had opportunities in the United States.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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