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Yale’s Ivy Title Hopes Still Alive Entering Final Weekend

(photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)
(photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Head To Penn, Princeton; Trail Harvard By One Game, Penn By Half Game

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldogs (19-7, 9-3 Ivy) enter the final weekend of the regular season still very much alive in the race for the Ivy League title. Yale trails first-place Harvard (10-2) by one game and second place Penn (9-2) by a half game. With Princeton (7-4) also still in the mix, there are numerous scenarios in play. This much is certain. The Bulldogs must win at least one game to have any chance to still be alive come Sunday. The Bulldogs start the weekend Friday at Princeton and then have a Saturday date with Penn. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.

Regardless of the results, the Bulldogs would seem to have done enough to earn a postseason berth. Yale's 19 wins are the most since the 2001-02 team won 21, including a victory over Rutgers in the NIT, the last postseason appearance for the Bulldogs. Yale is looking to reach the 20-win mark for only the sixth time in school history. James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball, reached a milestone last Saturday, notching his 100th career Ivy victory. He is only the fifth coach in league history to reach the mark. There are also a number of noteworthy individual accomplishments in play entering the final weekend. Greg Mangano (18.5 ppg.) shares the Ivy lead in scoring with Penn's Zack Rosen. Mangano also is the league leader in rebounding (9.7 rpg.) and blocks (62). Austin Morgan is shooting 90.3 percent (84-of-93) from the foul line, which would break Ed Petersen's (.888) school record set in 1988-89. Reggie Willhite (59 steals) needs one more steal to set the single-season school record.


Overall, Yale leads the Ivy League in scoring (70.4 ppg.) and rebounding margin (+5.0). The Bulldogs are second in scoring margin (+5.9) and blocked shots (110). In Ivy only games, Yale is second in field goal percentage defense (.403).


•  Reggie Willhite is averaging 14.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists in his last seven games. In addition, he has 18 steals in the stretch. In the two games last weekend, Willhite had 28 points, 17 rebounds, 14 assists and six steals.

•  Jesse Pritchard scored a career-high 13 points in Saturday's win over Cornell. He was 5-of-6 from the field, including 3-of-3 from three-point range. The night before against Columbia, he had five rebounds and four assists. Pritchard has started the last four games.

•  Freshman Brandon Sherrod had one of the best games of his young career Friday against Columbia, finishing with 10 points, which matched his career high. With the score tied at 58, Sherrod scored four straight points to give the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish. He also hit a pair of free throws, blocked a shot, had an assist and grabbed two rebounds down the stretch.

•  Austin Morgan enters the weekend third in the nation in free throw shooting (.903, 84-of-93).


  Yale held the Lions and Big Red to a combined 31.7 percent from the field in the two games.

•  The two wins gave the Bulldogs an 11-1 home record for the season, the best mark in Lee Amphitheater since the 1989-90 team also went 11-1.

•  Yale swept the season series from Columbia for the third straight year.


The Tigers (16-11, 7-4 Ivy) have averaged 68.1 points in Ivy games, which is tops in the league. Ian Hummer is third in the league in scoring (16.2 ppg.) and fifth in rebounding (7.3 rpg.). With one more win, head coach Mitch Henderson will have the most wins for a first-year Princeton head coach since Bill Carmody (24) in 1996-97.


The Quakers (17-11, 9-2 Ivy) host Brown on Friday. Penn has won five straight, four of which have come by three points or less, including last Saturday's 55-54 victory at Harvard. Zack Rosen was named the Ivy League Player of the Week on Monday. He scored the Quakers' last 16 points in a win at Dartmouth and the last nine points in the victory over the Crimson.


The Bulldogs are looking to sweep the season series from Princeton for the first time since 2007-08. In the first meeting, Yale held the Tigers to an Ivy low 54 points in a 58-54 victory. Princeton shot just 33.3 percent from the field.

The Bulldogs' last win at The Palestra came in 2009, 87-79. Yale knocked off the Quakers 60-53 earlier this year in New Haven. Trailing 53-50, the Bulldogs scored the final 10 points of the game.

The last time Yale swept the Princeton-Penn road weekend was during the 1986-87 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.

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 26 games 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.


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