Yalies hoping to wach the men’s basketball team in action at home this season will get their last chance this weekend.
The Bulldogs will play host to Columbia (14–12, 3–7 Ivy) tonight and then face Cornell (10–14, 5–5 Ivy) at the Lee Amphitheater Saturday. The Bulldogs played on the road the past two weekends, most recently in a 66-51 loss at Harvard last Saturday. Although the Elis were defeated by their archrival Crimson, Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker said that he saw Yale as a team that is never out of a ballgame.
“[Yale has] been down, and they’ve marched their way back and won games,” Amaker said last Saturday. “That’s the mark of a good team — a tough team.”
The Bulldogs will need to be tough this weekend, as they are in third place in the Ivy League: a half-game behind Penn and two below the Cantabs.
If the Elis want to gain a postseason berth — either the NCAA tournament bid given to the Ivy League champion or an National Invitational Tournament bid as the second place team — then sweeping the final home stand of the year is essential. The Bulldogs played both Cornell and Columbia away two weeks ago, losing to the Big Red 85–84 in OT before overcoming a 21-point deficit the next night and beating the Lions 59–58 in New York City.
One reason that Cornell was able to topple Yale in Ithaca was the hot shooting of Jonathan Gray, who hit six of his eight three-point attempts on his way to a career-high 29 points. Although Yale head coach James Jones said that the Bulldogs will have to improve on defending ball screens, he said that he would not game-plan specifically for Gray.
“We want to limit shots for anyone,” Jones said. “If [Gray] shot his average, we [would] win the game. [But] we’ll certainly be conscious of him.”
Gray is averaging a career-high 8.4 points per game this season and shooting 29.7 percent from beyond the arc.
This weekend will not only be the final home stand of the season: it will also be the final home stand in the careers of four Bulldogs. Forward Rhett Anderson ’12, guard Brian Katz ’12, forward Greg Mangano ’12 and forward Reggie Willhite ’12 will all suit up for their final regular season game at the Lee Amphitheater Saturday.
Although Mangano and Willhite might look to pursue professional basketball after graduation, Anderson said that he is looking at his final home game as a different transition.
“I’m transitioning from something I’ve been doing my whole life — playing basketball competitively — to something else,” Anderson said. “[This weekend] is going to be business as usual, which is probably going to be one thing I like the most. I’m just enjoying it while it lasts.”
Yale has won nine of its 10 home games so far this year.