inicio mail me! sindicaci;ón

Know! Your! Foe! - Yale.

Princeton heads on the road to Brown this Friday night and starts their return back down I-95 with a stop at Yale the subsequent evening, finally concluding a stretch of 12 consecutive DI road games that began in early December.

I've always found it unexpectedly difficult to locate people who follow the Bulldogs online, but for the site's first-ever Yale Know! Your! Foe! preview someone stepped up to my challenge.

Ian Halpern is one of the folks behind Ivy Hoops Online, a site covering all eight schools in the league which launched prior to this season. They're doing great work over there providing well-written previews and analysis, a much-needed addition to the Ivy basketball landscape.

I exchanged emails with Ian about Yale and our conversation comes after the jump.

If you cover a team the Tigers will face down the line, let us know. We'd love to talk with you.

Welcome to the site, Ian. Glad to finally have someone to talk Yale basketball with. Bulldogs fans are surprisingly rare on the Internet.

Any discussion of Yale begins with senior center Greg Mangano. Last season I felt Princeton did a quality job in both games of duping Mangano into believing he was a jump shooter instead of a post presence. Do you think that's possible again in this meeting or has Mangano been sticking to the paint more in 2011-12?

That's definitely possible again. A big part of the problem is that the Yale guards have struggled to get him the ball low on the block. Because of this, Mangano seems to get frustrated and strays from the low post quite often. Believe it or not, the 6'10" center is second on the team in three-point attempts this season. I can't imagine that Coach Jones draws it up that way, but Mangano can't seem to pass up an open look. If you game plan for him by doubling and denying, you can force the other Bulldogs to beat you. Take him out of the game enough and he'll lose focus - the biggest knock on Mangano is that he's an emotional player who can disappear for stretches at a time. When the Bulldogs are moving the ball well though, he is a serious threat to take over the game. Defensively, he is a monster averaging 2.6 blocks per game. He alters too many shots to count, and Princeton will have to make a concerted effort not to fall back on launching threes all day just because he's clogging up the middle.

Mangano is only one part of a formidable frontcourt. Can you say a few words about the progress of Jeremiah Kreisberg and the growth of Reggie Willhite?

Kreisberg is a very talented complement to Mangano. The Hebrew Hammer, as he is known on the team - he's a real character with an entertaining blog that's worth the read - hasn't yet made the type of sophomore leap that I'd hoped to see from him, but a big part of that is that he's only averaging 25 minutes a game. Jones wants to get him more involved though and I expect his minutes to increase this weekend, especially against a team like Princeton with Brendan Connolly and Ian Hummer up front. Kreisberg is a strong defender who cleans up the glass, and on the offensive end, he's a big guy who can knock down a mid-range jumper in the high post or make a strong play on the block and draw a foul.

Reggie Willhite is the team's captain and he plays as hard as anyone I've seen in the league. All year, Willhite has filled up the stat sheet. He's currently in the Top 10 in the conference in points, field goal percentage, assists, steals, and blocks. There have been many games this year in which teams have keyed in on Mangano, and Willhite has been forced to step up and make plays. He has come through in the clutch on many occasions to lead the Bulldogs to narrow victories. Willhite can take you off the dribble on the wing and finish at the rim, or he can pull up and knock down the mid-range jumper. He's most impressive on the defensive end though. His late-game steals against Sean McGonagill single-handedly brought the Bulldogs back from the brink of a disastrous upset against Brown in the conference opener. His 2.1 steals per game lead the Ivy, but I'd be remiss if I did not mention that Willhite can be very frustrating to watch. His hustle and drive is sometimes too much, as the captain can play out of control. His six turnovers against Harvard squandered precious possessions before that game got out of hand.

I've gotten good millage in prior Q&As from this question: In addition to the names above, who is a player people should keep their eyes on come Saturday?

Austin Morgan is the man to watch. If the dangerous shooting guard gets some space, he'll make the Tigers pay. Opponents have been able to lock him down in recent games, but don't expect that to continue. Morgan has the ability to go off in a big way, as he's shooting 44% from beyond the arc and 91% from the line (fifth in the nation). When Yale is playing well, they're making crisp passes into their big guys, who either challenge their smaller opponents one-on-one, or wait for the help to collapse and kick it back out to Morgan and Willhite, who either launch open threes or pump and drive to the rim. The Elis are 4-4 when Morgan shoots 33% from the field or worse. They are 9-1 when he shoots at a higher clip.

On paper the Bulldogs look to have trouble keeping control of the ball but make up for that by grabbing a lot of offensive boards and keeping their foes off the glass. Is that a fair capsule?

That's definitely fair. The Bulldogs lead the league in offensive rebounding percentage thanks primarily to Greg Mangano, who leads the league in rebounding by a full two rebounds (9.9 per game). Last weekend though, the Bulldogs failed to dominate on the boards and compounded that error by giving the ball away far too often. The 22 turnovers against Harvard and 19 turnovers against Dartmouth were hardly an aberration, as the Bulldogs also gave it away more than 17 times against five other teams this season. This is the huge problem for Yale right now. Teams are killing them with a combination of doubling/denying Mangano and stretching that high pressure defense up top. The guards have shown that they aren't capable of withstanding that kind of extended pressure defense.

With five players averaging 22+ minutes a game, is depth an issue for Yale?

Yale's frontcourt depth is adequate as long as Mangano stays out of foul trouble. Freshman Brandon Sherrod, an undersized interior player who is as strong as an ox, has shown promise in limited minutes, providing a more athletic, versatile option in relief of Kreisberg. The backcourt depth is more worrisome, as sophomore Isaiah Salafia and freshman Javier Duren have gotten some minutes, but both players have struggled to take care of the basketball.

How much of a surprise was what happened against Harvard last weekend? The result did not shock me but the final score did.

After last year's close games with Harvard, including an emotional Senior Night victory at John J. Lee, I was fully expecting another tight contest between the two archrivals. It was pretty shocking to see the Bulldogs fold up like that. I didn't realize the extent of the backcourt problems until they were so thoroughly exposed by Harvard's relentless defense. There was far too much standing around the perimeter in that game. The Bulldogs need to move more off the ball and be the aggressor in the half-court.

This is where traditionally our "Know! Your! Foe!" subject fills in the blank. Yale stays in the hunt to catch Harvard if...

...the Bulldogs' backcourt can limit its turnovers, rotate the ball efficiently, and get Austin Morgan his open looks. If the Bulldogs take care of the ball, inside to Mangano and back out, it will open up the court for the rest of the offense.

Brief side note: It's scary to think that Yale's best win on the season is Vermont (KenPom #167). We're entering the fifth game of conference play and we still have no clue how the Bulldogs are going to fare against the middle clump of the league because they haven't played any comparable teams rated between #100-150 in the nation.

Princeton enjoys the outcome of their first visit to New Haven since the Ivy League playoff if...

...the Tigers play intense, extended defense and limit Mangano's impact. A big game from Connolly would go a long way to that end. Doug Davis having a good shooting night is probably a necessary ingredient as the Tigers won't be getting a lot of points in the paint.

Finally, can you tell people about Ivy Hoops Online, what you are all doing over there and how people can keep tabs on your work?

Ivy Hoops Online is a collaborative effort, taking some of the best basketball writers from each school in the Ivy League (some recent graduates and a few seniors) and bringing them together in one place to create some insightful, interesting content for fans of a league that is certainly on the rise. Our staff is seven strong right now, and our Princeton writer, Spencer Gaffney (P '12) has done a great job of breaking down Coach Henderson's squad and mixing it up with some of our spirited commenters. I think we are doing something unique in that we have expert analysis from great writers with a good eye for the game, who follow the team extremely closely and also are plugged into what's going on on campus. It's a fun little community we've built and I hope the great Princeton fans will come by and check it out if they haven't already. Big thanks to Jon for the opportunity to write about my Bulldogs in this space.

Thanks, Ian. You're very welcome. Great answers all. You can also follow IHO on Twitter for additional updates.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.