The Bulldogs are coming off of an embarrassing 65-35 beatdown to archrival Harvard in one of the most anticipated games to take place in the John J. Lee Amphitheater in quite a while. (Or at least one of the most anticipated games that Yale has played in.) Yale now has less than 24 hours to recover from the devastating loss to face another New England opponent eager to knock the Bulldogs off.
Dartmouth was only able to muster 85 points in two combined efforts against Harvard (which doesn't look too bad anymore…). Friday against Brown, the Big Green did what they've done too many times this season: come out fast but fail to hold on to a lead, letting a six-point advantage slip away in the final seven minutes in Providence.
By most metrics, Dartmouth ranks near the bottom of Division 1 as an offensive team. They shoot under 40% from the field, a rate which combined with their slow tempo, results in the Big Green averaging just 58.2 points per game before this weekend. As a result, if they want to have a shot at beating Yale, they will need to shoot the ball unusually well. Brown was able to get up big on Yale early, and very nearly was able to hold onto the win when the two teams met in New Haven thanks to a very strong shooting performance in the first half. For Dartmouth, freshman Gabas Maldunas will have to step up in a big way, both on the defensive and offensive end. He is a talented scorer inside who will need to knock down some shots over Yale’s talented frontcourt defenders. Fellow freshman forward Jvonte Brooks is a versatile talent who put up 12 points and nine rebounds against Harvard, then followed it up with 16 points Friday against Brown. It will take another strong effort on offense and on the boards to keep Dartmouth in this one.
I expect Dartmouth to try to work the ball down low to try to establish an inside-out game, kicking out for three point opportunities. While this isn’t exactly the strength of the Big Green, they are going to need to step up and knock down some open shots against Yale. Dartmouth has 4 players with at least 20 three-pointers on the season, so if the Bulldogs help out on a Dartmouth post player, the Green should have some options around the perimeter. It’s not exactly Jeff Foote with 4 deadly shooters around the perimeter, but the Cornell methodology could be a good one for Dartmouth, as I have to imagine the Bulldogs will start the game allowing Dartmouth to shoot from beyond the arc.
On the other side, Yale will need to do a good job controlling the boards, as Dartmouth should be able to give them a tougher fight than most teams will (Maldunas did a number on the Crimson frontcourt on the offensive glass). The Bulldogs will need to play aggressive, sound defense and force Dartmouth to knock down shots while defended, as it’s no secret this Dartmouth team doesn’t shoot the basketball well. Mangano is on a tear in these last few games, but Dartmouth will try to deny him the basketball. Yale’s guards will have to knock down some shots to help open up the inside game. Most importantly, Yale must limit their turnovers. Against
Harvard, this was the death blow. The Bulldogs committed an astounding 22 turnovers on less than 60 possessions. Not good. Anyway, if Yale can get up early, it will be tough for Dartmouth to catch them, as the Big Green aren’t built to win a high scoring affair.
It will be on the shoulders of Coach Jones to refocus the Bulldogs after Friday's debacle, and the Elis will likely be playing to a less-than-packed house in the same arena the next day. Expect the Bulldogs to work through Mangano and attack the Dartmouth freshmen. Yale’s experience at the guard position is a major advantage they wield over Dartmouth, so Reggie Willhite and Austin Morgan will need to enforce their will in this one. Yale doesn’t need each of them to score twenty points apiece to win, but the two will have to be factors on both ends of the floor and avoid making mental errors.Dartmouth will be coming in focused off the tough loss to Brown. Expect a strong showing from Cormier's troops–apart from the Harvard games, the Big Green have been within single digits in all but three of their losses. That said, Yale is the better team, and I think they bounce back and get it done at home.