Thursday, February 16, 2012

Yale Attempts to Rebound from Defeat at Cornell

NEW HAVEN – Last weekend is already a blur to Yale men’s basketball coach James Jones. His Bulldogs lost an overtime heart-breaker at Cornell and then rallied from 21 points down in the second half to defeat Columbia.
The weekend split left Yale (16-6, 6-2 Ivy League) in exactly the same place it was before it started,in second place and a game behind Harvard in the Ivy League standings. Yale visits Dartmouth (4-20, 0-8) on Friday night before playing at the Crimson (21-3, 7-1) on Saturday at Cambridge, Mass., in another crucial weekend of league play.
“The entire weekend is a complete blur,” Jones said of last week’s split. “You think about playing those games so close together. A four-hour bus ride. We got little sleep and the fact that you play overtime one night and then play the next night.
“We didn’t even get a chance to digest the Cornell game (an 85-84 loss) fully and they’re throwing the ball up for another game. I’m not sure what to take from the comeback in the Columbia game but I know that this team is resilient and they never give up.”
Yale forward Reggie Willhite took over the game against the Lions scoring 24 points including the game-winner in the 59-58 victory. Jones said it might have been the best game he’s ever played at Yale.
“He did what he was capable of doing,” Jones said. “There are very few people in the league that can stay in front of him. We were able to isolate him a little and he was able to do some stuff on his own.”
Said Willhite: “A lot of people were probably writing the season off during the Columbia game. It shows your true colors when your back is against the wall. The loss to Cornell definitely stung. Being down 21 points and staring the end of the season in your face, we had to find something that worked. We played our hearts and were able to get back into it.”
Yale defeated Dartmouth 62-52 getting a game-high 16 points from Willhite. They’re certainly not looking past the Big Green tonight.
“You do exactly what you’ve always done to prepare,” Jones said. “Last week we spent a lot more time on Cornell because they play differently than any other team in the league. This week we spent as much time working on ourselves as we did Harvard or Dartmouth.
“Dartmouth is always tough, especially up there. They’ve played everybody tough. Last week Penn’s Zach Rosen had to bury a 3-pointer from over 30 feet away to beat them. They’re dangerous. We’re very good inside and if we go in there we have a distinct advantage.”
Should the Bulldogs beat Dartmouth it has a short turnaround to get ready for nationally-ranked Harvard.
“It’s the curse of the Ivy League,” Willhite said. “Playing back-to-back nights is always tough but it’s even tougher when you have a huge rivalry game on the second night.”
Yale was embarrassed by Harvard 65-35 earlier in the season. The Bulldogs were never in the contest but Jones feels that his team can truly compete with the Crimson.
“Even in that game, Harvard only scored 65 points,” he said. “So our defense wasn’t that bad, we just couldn’t make a basket.”


Anonymous said...

This is the thirteenth year that Coach James Jones has been doing these back-to-backs. At this point, you'd think he would have implemented a better, less chaotic-sounding system for preparing his team for two games over 26 hours, than appears to be the case.

One must give the Bulldogs full credit for a "never say die" attitude of which all the league teams must beware at this point. In addition to their more celebrated comebacks against Penn and the Lions, they came back on us from five down late in Friday's game to take a lead, then again came back to sink a bucket with less than five seconds left to force OT.

The other interesting quote is that "Cornell plays differently from all the other teams in the league..." and requires different preparation. I think that's what Coach Courtney has been after and it seems to be working.

Remember, if Yale wins out from here, they get the tournament bid. Let's see if they can do it.

Anonymous said...

Back-to-backs is not the "curse" of the Ivy League. It is one of the things that makes Ivy League hoops so great.

Anonymous said...

Will somebody please tell the Yale players and coaches that the opponent they face every Saturday night has also had a game the night before?