2008-09 Yale Basketball Preview
Bulldogs look to replace Flato, Holmes twins
The Yale Bulldogs may only have two starters back from last season's team, but those two starters have an opportunity to earn some postseason honors should they build upon their 2007-08 campaigns. Ross Morin and Travis Pinick are back up front for head coach James Jones, and Morin has the chance to improve upon his second-team All-Ivy selection. For the answers that those two provide, they're countered by the uncertainty on the perimeter with Nick Flato and twins Caleb and Nick Holmes out of eligibility. Whether or not Yale improves upon their tie with Columbia for fourth place will depend upon the development of the backcourt. But with Morin and Pinick the Bulldogs certainly have a chance to do so.
2007-08 Record: 13-15 (7-7 Ivy; t-4th)
Head coach: James Jones (117-134 in nine seasons)
Assistant coaches: Curtis Wilson, Matt Kingsley, Mark Gilbride
Home court: John J. Lee Amphitheater
PPG: Ross Morin (10.2)
RPG: Travis Pinick (6.3)
APG: Pinick/Alex Zampier (2.1)
FG%: Morin (57.0%)
FT%: Porter Braswell (73.3%)
3PT%: Zampier (36.7%)
Assist/TO ratio: Zampier (1.7)
The question marks lie here for the Bulldogs in 2008-09. With the loss of three key contributors in Eric Flato, Nick Holmes and Caleb Holmes, there are a lot of minutes up for grabs heading into this season. Alex Zampier played the most of any returning perimeter contributor last season, averaging nineteen minutes per game. Even though he's the leading returnee in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, Zampier stands to be a candidate at the two instead of the point thanks to the return of Porter Braswell. Braswell only played eleven minutes per game last year, but he made enough of an impact on an experienced team to be named winner of the John C. Cobb Award (team's best freshman) a season ago.
Behind Braswell is where things get a little hairy, with seniors Ari Greenberg and Chris Andrews having experience within the Yale program but lacking experience in the way of playing time. Another returnee in the backcourt who lacks game experience is Raffi Mantilla, meaning that a number of the backup minutes will go to a pair of newcomers who can put the ball in the basket. Brian Katz (Woodbury, NY) and Reggie Willhite (Elk Grove, CA) are a pair of shooting guards who will need to contribute early and often for the Bulldogs to be successful. Braswell and Zampier are the key cogs in the backcourt, but with them combining for thirty minutes per game last season they'll need some help.
A pair of concrete answers can be found in the frontcourt, and they go by the names Ross Morin and Travis Pinick. While Pinick usually split time with Matt Kyle in regards to who would start, he still played in twenty-eight games and led the Bulldogs in rebounding. Morin is the team's leading returning scorer and should be an even more dependable scoring option inside this season. In regards to who could join them in the starting lineup, keep an eye on center Paul Nelson and swingman Jordan Gibson. Neither played more than nine minutes per game, but that was due more to the presence of players such as the Holmes twins and Kyle.
Others who will fight for time behind the duo of Morin and Pinick include junior Josh Davis and sophomores Michael Sands and Garrett Fiddler. But this isn't the end of the possibilities up front for the Bulldogs, who also welcome a pair of newcomers who could also fight their way into the rotation in Rhett Anderson (La Canada Flintridge, CA) and Greg Magnano (Orange, CT). With Magnano at 6-10 and Anderson standing at 6-8 they'll add some more height to the front line. But they shouldn't be counted on for major contributions thanks to the number of options back.
We know all about the frontcourt for the Bulldogs, arguably the best unit in the Ivy League. But what about the guards? That's the question that needs answering if Yale is to entertain thoughts of dethroning defending champion Cornell. They'll be caught in the middle of the Ivy with teams such as Penn, Harvard and Brown, where the tandem of Morin and Pinick could make all the difference for the Bulldogs.
Team Stats (conference ranking in parentheses)
PPG: 68.5 (4th)
PPG allowed: 69.2 (6th)
FG%: 45.2% (3rd)
FG% defense: 45.6% (4th)
3PT%: 34.4% (3rd)
3PT% defense: 36.8% (7th)
FT%: 69.7% (6th)
Rebound margin: +0.5 (2nd)
Assist/TO ratio: 0.93 (4th)