NEW HAVEN, Conn. - By winning three of four in back-to-back home weekends, the Bulldogs have put themselves in good position at the midway point of the Ivy League season. Now, Yale plays it next four on the road, starting with this weekend's trip to New York. Friday's game at Cornell and Saturday's date with Columbia both tipoff at 7 p.m.
At 5-1, the Bulldogs are off to their best league start since 2006-07. Yale also has its best overall record (15-5) after 20 games since 1961-62. Defense was the story in the sweep of Penn and Princeton. The Bulldogs held Penn to 38.6 percent from the field and then were even better the next night, limiting the Tigers to 33.3 percent. In six Ivy games, Yale has allowed an average of 58.0 points per game, which is second in the league. Greg Mangano had another big weekend to lead the Bulldogs, who have won three straight and seven of their last eight. Mangano averaged 21.5 points and 11.0 rebounds in the two wins and was named the Ivy League Player of the Week for the eighth time in his career. Only Brown's Earl Hunt (9 – 2000-03) has been honored more in league history. Mangano leads the league in scoring (19.0 ppg.), rebounding (10.1 rpg.) and blocks (49). Reggie Willhite, who is second on the team in scoring (12.3 ppg.), had 20 points in the win over Princeton and was named to the Ivy League Honor Roll.
Overall, Yale leads the Ivy League in scoring (71.1 ppg.) and rebounding margin (+6.8). The Bulldogs are second in scoring margin (+6.0), blocked shots (86) and assists (14.1 per game).
PENN-PRINCETON WEEKEND NOTES
• The sweep was Yale's first over Penn and Princeton since the 2006-07 season.
• The Bulldogs scored the game's final 10 points in the 60-53 win over Penn. The Quakers' last points came with 4:57 left.
• Michael Grace had 11 points and four assists in the win over the Quakers. He was 5-of-6 from the field in a career-high 31 minutes.
• Jesse Pritchard grabbed seven rebounds, one shy of his career high, against Princeton.
The Big Red (8-12, 3-3 Ivy) is 7-2 this season at Newman Arena. Fourteen of the team's last 16 games against Division I teams have been decided by single digits. Cornell has lost close games to Illinois (64-60), Penn State (74-67) and Maryland (70-62). Drew Ferry (11.7 ppg.) leads a balanced scoring attack. Shonn Miller (9.5 ppg.) is a four-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week selection.
The Lions (13-9, 2-4 Ivy) host Brown on Friday night. Columbia is coming off a hard-fought 57-52 loss at Harvard last Saturday. Brian Barbour (15.5 ppg.) is fourth in the Ivy League in scoring, and Mark Cisco (7.2 rpg.) is fifth in rebounding. The Lions opened the season with four straight losses but are 13-5 since.
Yale and Cornell are playing for the 211th time, and the Big Red lead the series 108-102. Home court has been a factor in the recent outcomes. The home team has won 12 of the last 14 meetings. The Bulldogs' last victory at Newman Arena came in 2004.
Yale is 5-2 in its last seven trips to Levien Gym, including a thrilling 87-81 double overtime victory last March. Overall, Columbia leads the series 122-98.
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.
MANGANO PLAYS FOR TEAM USA AT WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES
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).
KREISBERG COMPETES AT U20 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
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.
HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION
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.
WILLHITE TRAINS WITH LAETTNER, HILL
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 PICKED SECOND IVY LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL
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).
LEE AMPHITHEATER FEATURED IN ESPN THE MAGAZINE
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.