Author Richard Kent, whose basketball work includes Big East Confidential and Lady Vols and UConn: The Greatest Rivalry, previews Yale’s season-opening Connecticut 6 Classic matchup with Quinnipiac, who the Bulldogs eliminated in last year’s CIT.
There is a changing of the guard in the Ivies and nowhere is that more obvious than in New Haven. Yale has been picked by many to finish second only to Harvard by many preseason magazines. Over Princeton and Penn no less.
James Jones, the dean of the Ivy coaches, is not surprised. He is a confident guy to begin with, also noting that “top to bottom [this is] the best the league has been in my tenure.” That says a lot, considering Jones has helmed the Bulldogs since 1999.
Yale is coming off a loss in the finals of the CIT at Murray State. The Elis won 19 games in 2013-14 and if they take a page from Mercer, the CIT winner the year before, Yale could see NCAA action in March.
Jones returns seven of his top eight scorers, including All-Ivy forward Justin Sears. The New Jersey native has a strong frontcourt mate in former New York prep star Matt Townsend. The Yale backcourt is the team’s strength, unlike in many previous years. Indeed, Javier Duren, Armani Cotton and Nick Victor comprise one of the top backcourts in the country.
Yale beat local rival Quinnipiac at home, 69-68, on a buzzer-beater by Sears in the CIT last March. Jones is a big fan of the Connecticut 6 Classic and will play any Connecticut team anywhere, as evidenced by Yale’s slated Dec. 5 game at UConn. Quinnipiac, coached by former UConn assistant Tom Moore, was 20-12 last season and brings back many integral parts. The game is slated to begin Friday at 5:30 p.m.