Yale men add to its deep roster to make a run at the league title

The Yale men’s basketball team finished 2016-17 third in the Ivy League regular season, but a semifinal upset of rival Harvard propelled them into a runner-up spot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament. With the expected return of 2015-16 first team All-Ivy point guard Makai Mason from a major foot injury, the Bulldogs were expected to be in the thick of last year’s race. While the team was chosen second to the Crimson by only three points in the preseason media poll, Yale actually had two more first-place votes. Unfortunately, Mason and forward Jordan Bruner both sustained injuries in the preseason that effectively kept them on the bench for the entirety of the 2017-18 campaign.

Despite those major blows and a 2-4 start to league play, coach James Jones was able to rally his Elis (16-15 overall, 9-5 Ivy) to a second consecutive third-place showing. While Yale defeated co-champion Penn by one point in New Haven on the regular season’s penultimate evening, the Quakers ended the Bulldogs season with a 80-57 victory at the Palestra in the Ivy Tournament semifinal. For 2018-19, Yale will add a class of five first-years to a squad that will return its entire starting lineup and Bruner (8.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 22.4 minutes per game in ’16-’17). Even if the team cannot stay healthy, their depth allows them to be a good bet to stay in the conference’s upper division for the 19th straight season. If the coach can get his squad to avoid the injury bug (maybe skip the scrimmage against brother Joe Jones’ Boston University, where Mason and Bruner were both injured in successive seasons), a regular season and postseason title should be within their grasp.

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Yale women’s basketball follows record-setting season with high-profile incoming class

While missing out on the first Ivy Tournament in 2017, the Yale women’s team completed the season on a roll, winning four of its last five games, including victories against third place Harvard and league champion Penn. Entering her third year as head coach, Allison Guth hoped to use that momentum to catapult her Bulldogs into the conference’s upper division in 2018. On the strength of its senior stars, the tenacious Elis (19-13, 8-6 Ivy) earned the fourth spot in last season’s Ivy Madness, as well as an invitation to the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) Tournament.

After strong wins in the first two rounds of the WBI, Yale defeated South Alabama in the semifinals, coming back from an 11 point deficit with two minutes remaining in regulation. A 54-50 victory at Central Arkansas gave the Bulldogs its record setting 19th win and the WBI championship, the first postseason title of any kind for an Ivy League women’s program. Coach Guth will need to find a way to replace the production and leadership from its recently graduated class, if the Elis want to get back to the postseason and secure home court advantage in the third Ivy Tournament.

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Brett Kavanaugh and the ’85-’86 Yale Bulldogs

Following the recent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the Yale Daily News noted that the Eli alum (’83-’87 Undergrad; ’87-’90 Law) was once a writer at the paper’s sports department. While journalists and commentators across the nation scour and highlight his voluminous legal output, we here at IHO have looked at his writings to take a (lengthy) look back at his work with the 1985-1986 Yale men’s basketball team.

The Bulldogs finished the 1984-1985 season with a 14-12 overall record and a 7-7 mark in the Ivy League.  They were tied for fourth with Harvard and Princeton, three games off the pace of league champ Penn, two games behind Columbia and one game back of Cornell.  Yale won five of its last seven, including a home sweep of the Empire State Ivies and a 77-75 victory over the Quakers at the Palestra.  Sophomore center Chris Dudley, who averaged 12.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, was named to the All-Ivy first team.

Penn, led by first team All-Ivy junior guard Perry Bromwell and junior center Bruce Lefkowitz, was the preseason favorite to win the conference.  In his November 21, 1985 season preview, Kavanaugh wrote, “Penn finished 10-4 in the Ivies last season, and their four losses were by a total of only 11 points.  If they are disciplined and play as a team under new coach Tom Schneider, the Quakers should repeat as champions.”  According to the coaches preseason poll, Yale was picked second, followed by Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth and Brown.  Kavanaugh predicted a similar top five with Dartmouth, Brown, and Harvard in the bottom three spots.

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Talking Ivy Madness with Ivy League Senior Assistant Director Trevor Rutledge-Leverenz

After holding the first two Ivy Tournaments at the University of Pennsylvania’s Palestra, it was widely assumed that the 2019 edition would move away from the league’s most famous arena. While the reviews for both events were positive from players, coaches, administrators and fans, there were some league stakeholders who had concerns. The main issues generally focused on the home court advantage for Penn, attendance problems associated with holding the tournament in the conference’s southern-most location, and the timing of the women’s semifinal match-ups.

On May 24th, a day before the start of Memorial Day Weekend, the Ivy League office announced that the third edition of Ivy Madness would be held on the campus of Yale University at the John J. Lee Amphitheater (JLA) at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. The tournament will occur on March 16th and 17th, in the middle of Yale’s two week spring recess, with the games taking place at the same times as the 2018 tournament. On Saturday, the men’s semifinals will tip-off at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., while the women’s games will start at 6 p.m. and approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of the previous contest. The men’s final will be held at noon on Sunday, and the women’s championships will be at 4 p.m.  All tournament games will be televised by ESPN on its family of networks.

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Play BOLDness

In case you missed it, Yale women’s basketball assistant coach and Play BOLD co-founder Melissa D’Amico encapsulated the noble endeavor that is Play BOLD into a telling blog post last week.

A nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering communities by mobilizing people and resources on international missions to the most disadvantaged areas of the world, Play BOLD was the vehicle for Ivy women’s basketball players Alexandra Maund (Yale), McKenna Dale (Brown), Melissa Heath (Brown), Dominique Leonidas (Brown), and Eleah Parker (Penn) and 11 others to teach and learn in Eldoret, Kenya, where they taught hoops to underprivileged pupils on grass courts with no nets.

“I have learned that joy transcends material possessions, clean water and full stomachs,” Maund wrote.

Read more of D’Amico’s post here and learn more about the Play BOLD mission at playbold.org.

Yale defeats Central Arkansas, 54-50, to take WBI championship

After spending most of Wednesday traveling 1,500 miles from New Haven to Atlanta to Little Rock to Conway, Ark., the Yale women’s basketball team had enough energy left in the tank to take down the University of Central Arkansas, 54-50, for the 2018 Women’s Basketball Invitational championship.

In a defensive contest that came down to the wire, first team All-Ivy senior forward Jen Berkowitz scored the final four points for the Bulldogs (19-13) in the final minute to seal the record setting victory in front of a jammed packed 3,500-plus partisan Farris Center crowd.

The Bulldogs struggled offensively for the second straight game, hitting only three of their first 11 shots in the opening 10 minutes.  The Sugar Bears (25-10), meanwhile, shot 7-for-14, including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, to take a 18-11 lead after the first quarter. Yale fared slightly better in the second quarter, shooting 38 percent from the field, but its defense began to lock down Central Arkansas, holding the home team to 31 percent shooting.  After 20 minutes of action, the Elis found themselves down only 27-24.

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Yale outlasts South Alabama in WBI semifinal instant classic

The Yale women’s basketball team somehow survived and advanced in an instant classic in the WBI semifinal against visiting South Alabama, roaring back from 11 points down with under two minutes to go to pull off a stunning comeback 76-74 win in overtime.

found itself home for the first time in twenty eight days, but could not find its shooting touch until the game’s sixteenth minute. By that time, the Bulldogs (18-13) were 1 for their first 25 and down 19 to the visiting Jaguars of South Alabama from the Sun Belt conference (21-13).  The Elis then went on a 11-2 run to close out the first half down only 29-19.

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Bulldogs’ bench shines as Yale moves into WBI semifinals

The Yale women (17-13) visited Binghamton (20-12) in the second round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI), and held on for a 70-64 victory to move into the tournament semifinal.  With the victory, the Bulldogs earned their second-ever postseason win and tied a program record for number of wins in a season. They are now set to face South Alabama at the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. on the Ivy League Network.

With the score tied at eight, four minutes into the game, the Elis broke things open with a 16-2 run over the next 8:10. They extended the lead to a high of 19 late in the second quarter before closing out the half with a 17-point lead over the Bearcats. With Jen Berkowitz limited to 11 minutes due to foul trouble, junior forward Alexandra Maund put up six points (3-for-3 shooting) and six rebounds against Alyssa James, the three-time America East Defensive Player of the Year. First-year guard Tori Andrews, who missed the team’s December game against Binghamton due to an injury, came off the bench and went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc to lead Yale with 10 points.

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Women’s Ivy Tournament teams continue onward in postseason

For the second consecutive year, all four participants in the women’s Ivy Tournament have earned postseason bids.  Following top seeded Princeton’s championship victory over second place Penn early Sunday evening, the Tigers clinched the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and Penn claimed the conference’s automatic qualifying spot in the Women’s NIT.  On Monday night, Harvard received an at-large bid to the WNIT and Yale was selected for the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI).

The Tigers were chosen as the No. 12 seed in the Kansas City regional, where they will face No. 5 Maryland in Raleigh on Friday at noon on ESPN2 and online at ESPN3.  For Princeton, this is their ninth straight postseason appearance and seventh trip to the Big Dance.  The Quakers will be going up against Albany at the Palestra on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. on the Ivy League Network.  Penn is competing in its sixth straight postseason tournament and its second trip to the WNIT.  The Crimson will travel to the Bronx on Friday night at 7:00 pm to take on Fordham on the A-10 Network, as they make their 14th overall postseason tournament, eighth all-time WNIT showing and sixth WNIT appearance in the last seven seasons.  The Bulldogs will visit Northeastern on Thursday night at 7:00 pm on Northeastern’s NUxtreme.  This is the team’s first postseason play under third-year head coach Allison Guth, and the first of any kind since a 2011 WNIT bid.

Here is a short primer on the Ivy representatives’ opponents for this week’s action:

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Princeton bests Yale, 78-57, to advance to Ivy League Tournament final

In the teams’ first two matchups, Yale came out of the gate quickly against Princeton, the Ivy League’s regular season champion.  Tonight’s 78-57 Princeton win over the Bulldogs was a different story.

The No. 1 Tigers came out playing more aggressively and capitalized on early foul trouble for the Bulldogs’ Roxy Barahman to open up a nine-point first-half lead. No. 4 Yale managed to make it a five-point game with 4:59 to go in the first half, but three consecutive three-pointers from Carlie Littlefield and Tia Weledji upped the lead to 15 and the Tigers eventually went into the locker room up 39-23.

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