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Ivy Stretch Run Begins With Trip To Dartmouth, Harvard

Armani Cotton (Ron Waite photo)
Armani Cotton (Ron Waite photo)

Bulldogs Complete Four-Game Road Trip Against Ivy New England Rivals

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldogs (16-6, 6-2 Ivy) are coming off an unforgettable 59-58 victory at Columbia last Saturday. Yale, which has won four of its last five games, rallied from a 21-point deficit with 11:30 left in the second half. The significance of that victory will only grow in the annals of Yale history if the Bulldogs keep winning. Yale enters the weekend in second place in the Ivy League, one game behind Harvard. The Bulldogs travel to Dartmouth on Friday and then have a showdown with the Crimson on Saturday. Both games begin at 7 p.m.

The rally against Columbia ties for the 18th biggest second-half comeback in NCAA Division I history and is the third largest second-half comeback in Ivy League history. It was the sixth time this season the Bulldogs won despite trailing at the half. Senior Reggie Willhite played a key role in the victory, scoring six of Yale's last nine points, including a driving layup with 13 seconds left that was the game-winner. He finished with a career-high 24 points. Willhite is closing out his career in style. Since the first meeting with Harvard on Jan. 27, he is averaging 15.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and has 24 assists and 15 steals. Greg Mangano continues to lead the Ivy League in scoring (18.4 ppg.), rebounding (9.6 rpg.) and blocks (52). Yale's 16 overall victories are the most since the 2001-02 team won 21.


Overall, Yale leads the Ivy League in scoring (71.1 ppg.), rebounding margin (+6.1) and assists (14.2 per game). The Bulldogs are second in scoring margin (+5.5) and blocked shots (93).


  The overtime game with Cornell was Yale's first of the season. The Bulldogs hadn't lost an overtime game since falling to Harvard in 2010.

•  Michael Grace scored a career-high 15 points in the game against the Big Red. He was 5-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range.

•  Yale won for the third straight time at Columbia's Levien Gym. The Bulldogs have beaten the Lions six straight times overall.

•  Jesse Pritchard's only field goal against Columbia was a big one, a three-pointer with 37 seconds left that pulled the Bulldogs within one.


The Big Green (4-20, 0-8 Ivy) is coming off a heartbreaking 58-55 loss at Penn last Saturday. The Quakers' Zack Rosen hit a long three-pointer with 3.4 seconds left to snap a 55-55 tie. Dartmouth features one of the top newcomers in the Ivy League in Jvonte Brooks, who earned the league's Rookie of the Week award for the third time this season on Monday. Brooks leads Dartmouth in scoring (9.0 ppg), minutes (27.9 mpg), free throws made (89) and free throw percentage (.788).


The Crimson (21-3, 7-1 Ivy) suffered its first Ivy League loss last Saturday, falling 70-62 at Princeton. Harvard, which hosts Brown on Friday, is riding a 25-game win streak at home, a program record. It is the second longest streak in the nation, trailing only Kentucky's 49 consecutive home wins. The Crimson leads the Ivy League in scoring defense (54.2 ppg.) and free throw percentage (.745). Kyle Casey (11.0 ppg.) is Harvard's top scorer.


The Bulldogs will be looking to sweep the season series from Dartmouth for the third straight year. Yale topped the Big Green 62-52 on Jan. 28. Reggie Willhite paced the Bulldogs with 16 points and nine rebounds. The Bulldogs have won 10 of the last 11 meetings with Dartmouth.

Harvard has won five of the last six meetings with Yale, including a 65-35 decision on Jan. 27. Yale has 115 victories all-time over the Crimson, the most against any opponent.

Bulldogs Visit Children At Smilow Cancer Hospital

The Bulldogs visited with children at the Smilow Cancer Hospital At Yale-New Haven on Jan. 5. "It was a great experience to go and visit some kids who possess so much courage and have overcome more adversity at a young age than most people have to deal with in a lifetime," said junior Austin Morgan. "It was fun to hang out with them, create some artistic banners and get to know such upbeat and positive children." The players and coaches spent nearly two hours with the children. Some stayed in the activity room and did arts and crafts. Sam Martin played one-on-one with a four-year-old in a play room. Others went room to room to say hello and small talk with patients. "The visit really helped put things in perspective," Martin said. "One boy's dad thanked me for spending time with his son because it was the first time he had come out to play in days. He also mentioned that his son had since been glued to SportsCenter hoping to see the Bulldogs. I didn't realize one visit could mean so much, but I'm happy it did." The visit left a lasting impression on all who attended. "I think I can speak for all who visited the hospital that we learned from and cherished the time those children afforded to us, not the other way around," Morgan said. "They made our day."

WILLHITE, MORGAN Earn Academic All-District Honors

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 20 games for the Bulldogs. First-team Academic All-District honorees advance to the Capital One Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.


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.


Yale got a bit of a head start on the 2011-12 season. The Bulldogs spent 10 days in China last May and played four games, winning three, including a victory over a Chinese professional team. The trip allowed the Bulldogs to bond as a team and work on some things for the upcoming season.


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.


Yale was picked second, along with Princeton, by the select panel of 17 Ivy media representatives who voted in the official Ivy League preseason media poll. The Bulldogs received one first-place vote and 103 points. Harvard is the league favorite with 16 first-place votes and 135 points. Princeton also had 103 points followed by Penn (90), Brown (62), Cornell (52), Columbia (50) and Dartmouth (17).


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