Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Notebook: Yale Takes Down BC, Powerpoll

If the Bulldogs had merely downed BC in a vacuum, that would be one thing.

In its first game of the season, shortly after captain and star forward Michael Sands left the team for personal reasons, Yale fell behind 67-47 to decent mid-major Quinnipiac with eight minutes to go. Over the next 88 minutes, the Bulldogs posted a +16 point differential against the Bobcats and two full games against Providence and Boston College. In that context, Yale's victory becomes even more bizarre. How is this Bulldogs team, which lost its best player just a couple weeks ago, hanging with power conference teams for sustained periods of time?

The recipe against the Eagles was similar to the last two Ivy upsets of BC. Get a guard to have a career game (for Harvard - Jeremy Lin, for Yale - Austin Morgan), don't let the Eagles kill you on the offensive glass and hope that they have a cold shooting night.

After BC's Biko Paris finished a three-point play just after halftime to pull the Eagles to within 34-30, Morgan hit one of his six threes for the Bulldogs followed by one from point guard Porter Braswell and two from 6'11 center Greg Mangano. Morgan capped off the 14-2 run with a short jumper, staking Yale to a 48-32 lead. BC guard Reggie Jackson scored 17 of his 30 points the rest of the way, as the Eagles desperately rallied to pull within five with under three to go, but Braswell went 6-for-6 from the line in the final minute to seal the 75-67 win.

While the Eagles must be shaking their head about their 1-3 record against the Ivies over the past three years, it's equally as confusing to consider what to make of this Bulldogs squad in the context of the Ivy League race. The loss of Sands was supposed to be a death knell for an already solidly lower division team. Then, Mangano stepped up his game on the interior, and the guards have played well enough at key moments to make Yale fans begin to forget about the loss of last year's leading scorer Alex Zampier to graduation.


8. Dartmouth (8)

In one of the few eminently winnable games on the schedule, the Big Green blew a 17-point second half lead at home to a New Hampshire team that, during its comeback, had separate field goal droughts of 2:30, 2:00 and 3:30. Luckily Dartmouth obliged with a nine-minute field goal hiatus of its own. The Big Green will probably only be favored twice more this year and both of those will be during the Leede Arena portion of two bizarre, same-year home-and-homes with Colgate and Army.

7. Penn (2)

The number two spot in this poll has been poison thus far. The Quakers almost duplicated the Big Green's efforts on Wednesday, blowing a 54-42 lead at Manhattan by failing to score for the final 7:45 of the game. The Jaspers pulled it out 59-54 with a nifty 17-0 run to close out the contest.

6. Brown (4)

Hard to fault the Bears for getting blown out by a potential tourney team Rhode Island, but that's how tough this league has been to open the season. Lots of good teams, and Brown only result this week doesn't match up.

5. Cornell (5)

With Chris Wroblewski back, this Big Red team looked much more comfortable and quite capable of being a Top 150 squad. Cornell had little trouble dispatching a decent Delaware team - the second game in a miserable seven-game stretch which includes five road games and three Top 50 opponents.

4. Princeton (1)

It's not so much the annihilation at the hands of Duke that led to the Tigers getting dropped. That happens. It's the utterly atrocious defensive metrics that the Tigers posted over the first two games that are very concerning for a team that lives and dies by its ability to stop opponents from scoring.

3. Harvard (7)

After a miserable opener at George Mason, the Crimson got its revenge on Bay State rival Holy Cross. Harvard is playing insanely intense defense right now, and if it can limit turnovers offensively, it will be the best team in a steadily improving Ivy League.

2. Columbia (3)

The Lions have led at half in each of their first three games - at La Salle, vs. UMES and at St. John's. They've faded down the stretch against La Salle and St. John's, but its hard to argue that they've looked great against the big boys at times. Still, this team goes as its perimeter shooting goes - a dangerous characteristic for a team looking to contend.

1. Yale (6)

Lose by three to Providence and beat Boston College by eight. If that can't get a team to the top of this powerpoll, then we're talking about an entirely different Ivy League. After a visit to Illinois next Tuesday, the schedule gets a bit easier with Stanford as the only top 100 team remaining during the non-conference slate.

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