Fast forward to last night. Jones won his 300th game at Yale in commanding style, beating a game Brown team, 79-71, for its second win of the season over the Bears. With the win, Yale improved to 12-3 on the season and 2-0 in the Ivies. Importantly, the game fell within 100 fans of being a sellout, something reserved historically at Yale for Ivy foes like Penn and Princeton and not Brown.
Tom Beckett knows talent.
The recently retired Yale athletic director oversaw more than 120 Ivy League championships and many national championships, most recently in national sports like hockey and lacrosse, among teams headed by coaches hired by him. Rarely did the former baseball star both at the University of Pittsburgh and the minor leagues swing and miss on a coaching hire.
He certainly did not on Apr. 27, 1999. James Jones had a great interview with Beckett and Beckett saw a charisma which he felt would lead Yale out of the Ivy basketball doldrums. The Bulldogs had just come off of a disappointing 4-22 season under veteran coach Dick Kuchen.
Balance was the key word for what many consider to be the best Ivy squad this season. Alex Copeland had 19 points, while Miye Oni and captain Blake Reynolds pitched in 15. Yale outrebounded the Bears 47-35, with Oni posting 12 of those snares. One NBA scout in attendance was stunned by the Yale athleticism. The Elis posted nine blocks in the game.
The Elis led by 37-30 at the half and although Brown later narrowed the margin, Yale pulled away for the victory.
Leading the way for the visitors was Tamenang Choh, who notched 24 points on 8-for-16 shooting from the floor, 15 rebounds and five assists (versus just one turnover). Desmond Cambridge registered 14 points on 5-for-17 shooting for Brown, fouling out after 31 minutes of play.
Jones was soaked by water bottles by his team after the win but never lost his characteristic cool and was very contemplative in his press conference afterwards, as usual crediting his players over the years for the 300 wins.
Many of them were present in John J. Lee Amphitheater for the game. He also noted that the parity and strength in the Ivy was never stronger throughout his tenure than this season, adding that he expects a war in each of the remaining 12 Ivy regular season games.
His theory will be tested next Friday at Lavietes Pavilion against an improving Harvard team now playing with star guard Bryce Aiken, who returned to game action after a 348-day layoff from injury in a win at Howard Monday.