Bulldogs Kickoff Season Against Central Connecticut At Connecticut 6 Classic
Yale Plays Middle Game Of Tripleheader
Video Information: www.maac.tv ($7.95 for all three games. Link will be active 10 to 15 minutes before the first game)
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldogs kick off the 2013-14 season by playing Central Connecticut on Saturday in the second game of the Connecticut 6 tripleheader at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. following the Quinnipiac-Hartford game which starts at 3 p.m. Fairfield and Sacred Heart meet in the final game at 8 p.m.
Yale enters the year with high expectations. Last year, the Bulldogs were a young team that showed dramatic improvement over the course of the season. By the end, Yale was playing as well as anybody in the Ivy League. The Bulldogs won seven of their last 10 games and swept the season series from both Penn and Princeton for the first time in school history. The good news is that a large majority of that team returns. Justin Sears (9.5 ppg.) is the leading returning scorer. In all, the Bulldogs welcome back eight players that averaged at 13.1 minutes last year. Yale was picked third in the official Ivy League preseason media poll but has finished higher than projected in six of the last eight years.
3 Keys For Yale
Contain Kyle Vinales: Central's Kyle Vinales is one of the top offensive players in the country. Last year, he became the quickest player in CCSU history to reach 1,000 career points. He led the NEC and finished seventh in the country in scoring at 21.6 ppg. His 649 points were the highest single-season point total in school history. He is dangerous in a number of areas. He hit 80 threes and was 111-of-138 from the free-throw line. He also led the team with 113 assists.
Control The Boards: The Bulldogs led the Ivy League in rebounding last year (+3.9) and front court play figures to be a strength of the team again this season. The Blue Devils were outrebounded by nearly six per game last season. Yale has 13 players on the roster 6-foot-5 or taller so the Bulldogs hope to exploit that size.
Take Care Of The Ball: Howie Dickenman's Central teams are well known for their defensive pressure. The Blue Devils averaged 7.5 steals last year so Yale will need to limit the turnovers.
Yale and Central Connecticut are playing for the second time in the Connecticut 6 Classic. Two years ago at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Greg Mangano '12 scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Reggie Willhite '12 added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and six steals as Yale edged the Blue Devils 73-69. Overall, Yale leads the series 3-1. The first three meetings were at the old Phoenix Classic in Hartford.
Central Connecticut (13-17 last year) was picked fifth in the Preseason Northeast Conference Coaches Poll. In addition, junior guard Kyle Vinales, the quickest player to reach 1,000 points in CCSU history, was a unanimous selection for the Preseason All-Conference Team. Vinales scored a school-record 649 points last season and has averaged 19.8 points per game in his first two seasons in New Britain. Vinales leads a strong group of returning players for the Blue Devils. Senior Matt Hunter (15.7 ppg) is the leading returning rebounder after averaging 7.7 points per game. He also generated 78 steals to finish among the nation's leaders in that category. Junior captain Malcolm McMillan averaged 8.2 points and dished out 106 assists in his sophomore campaign. He has started 58 of 59 career games played in New Britain. With only 42 turnovers in 30 games McMillan was among the nation's leader in assist-turnover ratio.
YALE PLAYER SPOTLIGHT – Justin Sears
• Named to Preseason All-Ivy third team by CollegeSportsMadness.com.
• Fourth highest scoring (9.5 ppg.) freshman in the Ivy League last year.
• Finished sixth overall in the Ivy League in field goal percentage (.489) and eighth in rebounding (5.3 rpg.)
• Grabbed 78 offensive rebounds, second most in the league
• Led team in rebounding in 11 games and in scoring in seven games
• Scored the winning basket on a put back in the final seconds of a 64-62 victory at Bryant.
• Recipient of the John C Cobb Award as team's rookie of the year.
• Earned first team all-state, all-area and all-county honors as a senior at Plainfield High School.
• Second player in school history to score over 1,000 points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds.
• Helped lead Plainfield to two New Jersey Tournament of Champion title games where it lost to national power St. Anthony's both times.
• Played with Villanova point guard Tyrone Johnson and Fairleigh Dickinson's Sekou Harris.
• Played for New Jersey Demons AAU team.
• Graduated from the Academy for Information Technology but since it didn't have a basketball team, played for Plainfield.
• Has played tennis since the age of four.
• Didn't start playing basketball until eighth grade.
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity