Ivy hoops weekend takeaways – Jan. 18-19, 2019

Women’s

Brown’s offense is too potent to miss Ivy League Tournament again 

If Brown misses the Ivy League Tournament for a second straight season with as much offensive firepower as it has, it’ll really be a shame.

Brown senior guard Shayna Mehta’s career-high 37 points led the way, and the Bears’ elder Mehta has been one of the league’s standout scorers for a long time now, going back to her Ivy Rookie of the Year campaign in 2015-16.

But Mehta wasn’t alone in gouging a strong Yale defense in the Bears’ 86-71 win over the Bulldogs Friday. Seniors Erika Steeves and Taylor Will, who missed Ivy play last season due to injury, and junior Justine Gaziano combined for 43 points on 18-for-34 shooting. The Bears overwhelmed Yale inside and out, topping Yale by double digits at Pizzitola Sports Center while scoring 80-plus points for the second straight season.

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Q&A with Yale coach Allison Guth

Allison Guth has seen her Yale Bulldogs win 14 of their last 19 games dating back to the WBI Tournament in March, which Yale won. Yale does not play again until Jan. 18, when it tips off its conference slate at Brown. (Ivy League Network)
Richard Kent recently caught up with Allison Guth, who is in her fourth season at the helm of the Yale women’s basketball team. Her team is off to a fast 10-5 start this season and won the FAU Holiday Classic Championship in Boca Raton, Fla. Saturday. This interview has been lightly condensed for clarity.

Ivy Hoops Online: Congrats on the recent tourney win in Boca. How does it feel to take home two trophies in 2018 (after winning the WBI championship in March)?

Allison Guth: Feels excellent to take home the hardware in any tournament … We care about setting our sights to the only tournament that matters right now, and that’s the Ivy Tournament.

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Q&A with current Baylor and former Yale standout Makai Mason

Makai Mason is averaging 13.2 points and 2.6 assists per game through his first five contests as a Baylor Bear after missing the first three games of the season with an ankle injury. (Baylor Athletics)
You must remember him. That incredible 31-point performance for Yale in the 2016 NCAA Tournament is hard to forget.
Then injuries took hold and he only saw action for Yale in one game last season, at Harvard. Well, he made quite an impression on Baylor coach Scott Drew en route to those 31 points, and Mason is now integral to the Baylor offense as a fifth-year player. He is averaging 30.8 minutes and 13.2 points per game, having scored 18 points in two different games for the Bears so far this season. IHO caught up with him recently.

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Yale falls to Duke again after early back-and-forth

It’s not a bad gig, covering Yale and getting to see the Elis play twice at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 2015, not to mention an inspirational NCAA game in Providence in 2016.
But let’s start from the beginning. The flight to Raleigh on Friday was simple and a tour of the Duke Basketball Museum & Sports Hall of Fame and Krzyzewskiville, where Duke students have camped out for tickets since about 1986, was a blast.
The privilege to attend the Yale shootaround on Saturday at 11:30 a.m., was even better thanks to coach James Jones, who was methodical in his preparation but sure to give ample time to some of his own family, including his peripatetic son Quincy, a great athlete in his own right. As always, he preached toughness and crafted a sound game plan against one of the top two teams in the country.

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Yale tops Miami, serves notice to rest of Ivy League

It seemed crazy. What was Yale coach James Jones thinking? No home game until Dec. 5. A trip to China to play a Pac-12 foe (California) and trips to perennial national powers Miami and Memphis.
The answer is simple. Jones wanted to prepare his talented team, strangely picked only third in the league by the media pundits, for the Ivy wars starting in January. He is fully aware that it is unlikely for two Ivy teams to secure NCAA bids, so why not play the best to ultimately be the best Ivy squad?
The Elis secured perhaps their biggest out-of-league win since the epic 2016 NCAA win over Baylor, by beating heavily favored Miami of the ACC Saturday, 77-73. Miami entered the game with the No. 30 KenPom ranking nationally, the second-highest ranking of a team beaten by Yale in the KenPom era going back to 2001-02 (topped only by the Baylor win). The Elis were down by 10 at the half and fell to a 56-41 deficit in the second half.

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Yale couldn’t overcome poor officiating in loss at Memphis

It has been advocated for years that a commissioner of college basketball be appointed. There has been been a name bandied about: star commentator and former Duke star Jay Bilas. Who knows what his duties would be? Notwithstanding, he would have had his hands full after the Yale-Memphis debacle in Memphis last night before 14,656 at FedEx Forum.
Memphis beat a game and tenacious Yale team, 109-102, in double overtime. It had help from the highly partisan crowd. It had more help from the officials.
Yale was whistled for 40 fouls and on the strength of that, Memphis took 56 free throws. Memphis was whistled for only 22. That is a huge differential in any sport.

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Q&A with Yale coach Allison Guth

Yale coach Allison Guth has a lot to look forward to in her fourth season leading the rising program. (Ivy League Digital Network)

We caught up with Yale women’s basketball coach Allison Guth, who is embarking on her fourth season helming the Bulldogs and fresh off a recent contract extension through the 2023-24 season. 

Ivy Hoops Online: Not many teams have an opportunity to win their last game of the season. Yale did last year, winning the WBI. What was that experience like?

Allison Guth: Anytime your team can experience a “one and done” tournament setting is a benefit to the growth of your program. Having your back against the wall and needing to get the “W” to advance proves a mental toughness and fortitude.  Our team was able to grow as a result of winning one in a row four times to earn a postseason championship.

IHO: You did suffer some major graduation losses. Can you assess how that impacts the team?

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Q&A with Yale coach James Jones

Ivy Hoops Online caught up recently with Yale coach James Jones.
Ivy Hoops Online: Please tell us about how Jordan Bruner is progressing after his injury last season (a torn meniscus that kept him out in for the entire 2017-18 campaign).
James Jones: Jordan is in great shape. He’s progressed well with his injury and is looking forward to returning to game action.

IHO: You have a group of talented freshmen. Do you expect them to get much playing time?
JJ: All of our freshmen have an opportunity to help us this season. It will mainly depend on how quickly they pick up our actions on both sides of the ball.
IHO: Have you seen, since your first days as Yale coach, as much strength throughout the Ivies as in this upcoming season?
JJ: The overall talent in the league has improved greatly over the years, as well as all the overall level of each team.
IHO: You open up in China against California on Nov. 9. How did that game develop?
JJ: We were approached by the Pac-12 with this once in a lifetime opportunity, and it was an experience we couldn’t pass on.

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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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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.