Five-hundred-mile road trips are not always enjoyable. Hopefully the Bulldogs’ long bus ride will be worth it.
The men’s basketball team left Thursday at 4:00 pm for tonight’s game against Cornell (8–12, 3–3 Ivy) in Ithaca, N.Y. They will then travel to New York City Saturday to take on the Columbia Lions (13–9, 2–4 Ivy).
This road trip is traditionally tough for the Elis. Last year Yale (15–5, 5–1 Ivy) defeated the Lions 87–81 in double overtime March 4, only to fall to the Big Red 68–55 the following evening. Head coach James Jones said that the long game plus a long drive helped lead to the loss.
“Last year we just didn’t have a lot left in the tank [at Cornell],” Jones said.
He added that following the double overtime victory, the Bulldogs did not reach Cornell until 2:30 a.m.
Rest will not be an excuse this year, however; Yale will have almost an entire day to prepare for tonight’s game. Forward Greg Mangano ’12 said that the rest would be important, since the Bulldogs have played just one of their eight games in 2012 away from the Lee Amphitheater.
One thing that the Bulldogs would like to leave at home is a tendency towards turnovers. Yale has coughed the ball up 68 times during the past four-game home stand. Jones and Mangano both stressed the importance of taking care of the basketball.
“We were up in the high teens and even the low 20s [in turnovers] for a couple of games there,” Mangano said. “[We] are not going to win playing like that.”
Jones added that ball control will aid the defense, particularly against a Cornell team that has struggled running a half-court offense when it cannot make transition baskets.
One Big Red baller that Mangano and Jones have their eyes on is guard Chris Wroblewski. Mangano said that his ability to score as well as distribute the basketball — he averages 10.1 points and 5.2 assists per game — makes him a dual threat.
A ways south in the Big Apple, Columbia’s guard Brian Barbour could spoil the Elis’ New York tour with his 15.5 points per game. The Elis cannot afford to let any game get away from them on the quest for the Ivy League title, center Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14 said.
“We want to win every game at this point,” Kreisberg said. “Especially against teams with some losses [in Ivy League play].”
Kreisberg can do a lot to prevent a loss in the Empire State this weekend if he builds off of his performance against Princeton last Saturday. His nine points were the most he has scored since Dec. 19 at Rhode Island, but his presence on both ends of the floor was most important, Mangano said.
Mangano added that the two charges Kreisberg took in the first half were instrumental, as both forced the Tigers into two of their seven turnovers and energized the Elis.
Kreisberg said that Jones reached out to him before the game in a text message that helped to put him in a better mindset.
All of the Bulldogs will need that mindset to return home Saturday with two tough road wins.