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Next Up - Yale

This is not your father’s Ivy League. Some of the Ancient Eight’s teams are right up to date and Yale is on the bleeding edge.

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NCAA Basketball: Hartford at Duke
Dec 5, 2018; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) and Duke Blue Devils forward R.J. Barrett (5) high five during the second half against the Hartford Hawks at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get to far into this, let’s just mention a few scores:

  • Yale 76 Cal 59
  • Memphis 109 Yale 102 - in double overtime
  • Vermont 79 Yale 70
  • Yale 103 Bryant 61
  • Yale 77 Miami 73
  • Yale 97 Lehigh 87

Just to be clear, Yale, out of the Ivy, beat a PAC-12 team and an ACC team, very nearly beat Memphis and has topped 100 twice.

If you didn’t get it yet, here it is in plain English: that old Ivy League, the one which had some good, earnest teams that couldn’t keep up with the big boys? The one where Princeton was the only good school and it slowed the game down until you were bored enough to not guard the backdoor?

That Ivy League?

Dead and gone.

Harvard’s Tommy Amaker, Penn’s Steve Donahue and Yale’s James Jones have been the difference makers and this year, Yale looks as if it could compete in the ACC.

We’re not saying they’d finish first or anything but this team, to us, looks better than some ACC teams we can think of and it would be a threat to all of them.

Including Duke.

And don’t forget that Duke will be taking on a surprisingly dangerous opponent at the worst possible time - exam week. Practice is less intense, students may or may not show up to cheer and Yale is experienced and tough.

Yale has eight upperclassmen which is a huge advantage in a tight game. Those guys know each other over a period of years.

It won't help as much against this Duke team, but Yale has more size than a lot of teams it competes against with four guys 6-8 or taller and three 6-10 or taller.

Yale is also an exceptional three point shooting team, or at least a very confident one.

Their most critical player, at least by minutes played, is Miye Oni. The 6-6 junior guard averages 18.8 ppg and 5.7 rpg. He’s also a good assist man with 2.8 per game. He had 29 against Miami and is a potential NBA player. He’s the real deal.

Alex Copeland, a 6-3 senior, averages 11.2 ppg, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 apg. Jordan Bruner, a 6-9 junior out of South Carolina, is the best Bulldog passer with 3.2 apg.

Trey Phills, a 6-2 senior from Charlotte, puts up 8.8 ppg and 3.6 rpg. Blake Reynolds, a 6-7 240 lb. senior, will probably spend a fair amount of time on Zion Williamson.

Azar Swain, Paul Atkinson and Eric Monroe round out the primary rotation players.

Swain is a 6-0 sophomore who averages 10.8 ppg, 4 rpg, and 2.3 apg.

Atkinson is a 6-10 soph averaging 8.3 ppg, 3.7 reg and one assist. Monroe is a 6-2 junior who has minimal statistical impact so obviously he contributes in other ways.

Yale can’t hope to realistically compete with Duke in talent. Yale’s talent is good but Duke’s is ridiculous.

Fortunately for Yale, that’s not the only factor.

The Bulldogs, we’re quite certain will stick together because that’s what good, experienced teams will do and as we saw from Hartford, that can take you a long way.

You can also control the pace of play, as Virginia reminds, and you can force a team to play a style they aren’t familiar with, as Princeton regularly reminds us.

And as Bob McKillop is fond of saying, basketball is a game of deception.

So could Yale do it?

Well yes. They’ve gone toe to toe with some very tough teams already and been superb and Duke, entering exam period, is usually not not so sharp.

Who knows? A bit of foul trouble, a bit of youthful frustration, perhaps a major fence around Zion as Hartford applied, usually with three players, and you have to find other guys to take up the slack.

Against Hartford, RJ Barrett was more than up to it, as was Tre Jones, but it was a tough game for Cam Reddish.

However if he’s hot in this one, it could be a really long night for Yale.

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