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Know! Your! Foe! - Yale.

Ian Hummer, Mack Darrow and Princeton host Yale on Saturday night at Jadwin Gym in the fifth of five straight home Ivy League games to open conference play.

To commemorate the occasion I invited Ian Halpern from Ivy Hoops Online back to the site to help preview the Bulldogs as part of our ongoing Know! Your! Foe! series.

On the off chance you haven't paid them a visit already, Ivy Hoops Online is in its second year covering all eight schools in the league. They continue to be a much-needed addition to the Ivy basketball e-landscape.

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

If you missed our corresponding Brown preview, please read it here.

Cover a team the Tigers will face down the line? Certainly let us know. We'd love to talk with you.

For those reading who might not pay as close attention as some of us, can you capsulize Yale's season? I know they're 7-14 and 1-3 in the Ivy League but two of their wins did come versus Division III programs.

Yale fans had pretty tempered expectations this season after losing smack-talking, villainous Ivy big man Greg Mangano and ferocious defender Reggie Willhite to graduation. It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride thus far in '12-'13, as the young Bulldogs have had some encouraging results, including a solid non-conference win at Bryant and honorable efforts at Nevada and Iowa State, but also some face-palming stinkers (blowing a 24 point lead in the opener vs. Sacred Heart, losing at home to Hartford, at UNH, at Dartmouth). To be frank, it is a rebuilding year in New Haven and Coach Jones has his work cut out for him this conference season if he wants to continue his incredible run of 12 straight seasons in the Ivy's top half.

Reviewing the numbers, there isn't a whole lot that stands out offensively or defensively. Sell me on some of the things the Bulldogs do well!

Yale does a nice job on the boards. They have decent size (though not compared to Princeton) and a couple of impressive athletes who have shown the ability to take over the game in Justin Sears and Armani Cotton.

It is surprising to see how poorly Yale shoots the ball, especially inside the arc (327th nationally). Is this team still searching for ways to replace Greg Mangano's contributions?

Absolutely. Many people thought that Jeremiah Kreisberg was going to step in and replace Mangano's production inside, but he hasn't lived up to that billing, and still looks like he hasn't fully recovered from back surgery last summer. Matt Townsend just scored a career high 16 at Dartmouth and has done a decent job inside, but his play has been inconsistent. Greg Kelley also gets some minutes in the frontcourt and brings a bit more of a mid-range game to the table. The Bulldogs also get some strength back inside with the return of 240 lb. Brandon Sherrod, who played a few minutes for the first time in about a month last weekend, after suffering a hematoma at Nevada in December.

There are many new faces in the Bulldogs' rotation but one constant is Austin Morgan. Any new tricks for the senior guard in his final go-round?

Good segue. In fact, Austin Morgan has probably been the man most affected by Mangano's departure. With opponents not sagging in to help on Mangano, Morgan has had to work much harder to create his own shot. For a catch-and-shoot kind of player, that's a big change and his production has taken a slight hit. The scouting report on Morgan is still to limit his open deep looks and keep him off the foul line where he's shooting 91% on the year (70-77 FT), good for ninth in the nation.

One of those (somewhat) new faces is Armani Cotton, who has an increased role as a sophomore and has started 10 of the past 11 games. What sort of player is he now and what type of player could he become?

Cotton has been a nice surprise. The sophomore burst onto the scene with 20 points in 20 minutes against Holy Cross on January 4th, and has earned more playing time ever since. He had 10 quick points in Yale's opening minutes at Harvard last Friday, once again showing the ability to score in quick bursts. Cotton accomplishes this mostly by getting into the lane and finishing, or by getting to the line where he shoots 86%. As noted earlier, Cotton has good jumping ability and has demonstrated vacuum-like rebounding tendencies, especially on the defensive boards.

I know freshman forward Justin Sears was coveted by the Tigers. How has his first year for the Bulldogs gone for this New Jersey product? His offensive rebounding numbers are very impressive.

Justin Sears has been the Yale MVP to this point in the season. The freshman is averaging double figures (10.6 ppg), and is the go-to guy in the Bulldog offense with, far and away, the highest usage numbers on the squad. As you've noted, Sears is an elite rebounder, especially on the offensive end, nabbing 15.9% of his team's missed shots when he's on the floor, a top 25 offensive rebounding rate in the country. He is quite an athlete and a pleasure to watch. The Elis depend heavily on Sears and it shows: Yale is 1-7 when Sears is held to fewer than ten points.

Sears missed last weekend's games due to an ankle injury but was reportedly in uniform. Would you expect to see him playing come Friday?

I do think he'll be out there on Friday. Sears sprained an ankle in practice last week, but tweeted on Saturday that he was going to try to see if he could play against Dartmouth (he did not). I'm assuming that means he'll be back after a full week of rest, but perhaps not at full strength.

Anyone on the Yale roster I haven't covered you think deserves mention?

Point guard is a position that Yale has struggled to fill adequately this season. Both sophomore Javier Duren and senior Michael Grace have shared minutes and left something to be desired. Both are good passers and capable defenders, but turnover problems have plagued them both and I imagine they'll struggle with the length of the Princeton defenders.

Yale gets back on track with a much-needed victory (at Jadwin no less) if...

Hell freezes over. I would be really surprised to see the Bulldogs keep it within single digits. This is a Yale team that is a work-in-progress. I suppose it's possible that the Bulldogs could really focus on Hummer and catch his supporting cast on a cold-shooting night, but it seems pretty unlikely. The Bulldogs will need to get to the line early and often, and dominate the offensive boards. Sears, Cotton, and Morgan all need big nights.

Princeton sends the Bulldogs back up to New Haven with a loss if...

Princeton doesn't go ice cold from the field or forget how to play defense. The Tigers should cruise, especially if Bray and Koon continue their impressive recent form. Yale doesn't have an answer for Hummer on defense (does anyone in this year's league?), and the Elis have really struggled to shoot the ball with any consistency. Things only get more difficult for Old Blue if Sears isn't 100%.

Before you go, let people know about what's going on over at Ivy Hoops Online this season!

Of course! In IHO's second season, we've added more coverage of Ivy League basketball by adding Penn and Dartmouth writers to our staff. Unfortunately, our great Tiger scribe Spencer Gaffney moved on to bigger and better things with graduation and a time-consuming job, but the Princeton spirit has been kept alive by loyal commenter Toothless Tiger, whose constant verbal sparring with The Ancient Quaker makes for some entertaining Ivy basketball banter. Throughout the season, our weekly Ivy League Power Polls and Player of the Year trackers remain popular staples. Come visit us at and follow us on Twitter at @IvyHoopsOnline!

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