2007-08 Yale Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #119
Conference Rank: #1 Ivy League
2006-07: 14-13, 10-4, 2nd
2006-07 postseason: none
Yale? It has been a long time since Penn or Princeton has not been in this spot, but that goes to show that the Ivy League is not just about those two teams anymore. Harvard has a new big name coach, Cornell will be picked by some to win the championship this year and the Bulldogs will be in the mix. With Penn down and Princeton even losing the name of their offense since they are so bad, this promises to be one of the most exciting league races in recent Ivy history.
Casey Hughes, a 6-5 wing, was second on the team in scoring and led the unit in rebounding during his senior campaign. He will not be easy to replace, but luckily Yale has some talent on the wings ready to take over his role. The frontcourt takes the biggest hit on the departures. Sam Kaplan has wrapped up his collegiate career after being limited in the 2006-2007 season due to injury. Jason Abromaitis occasionally played an important role off the bench and little used Ed White has transferred to Stanford.
The return of Chris Andrews from a knee injury will make the depth on the perimeter even better than it already is heading into the 2007-2008 campaign. All that depth is bad news, for now, for incoming freshmen Porter Braswell and Raffi Mantilla. The high scoring Braswell is a steady, and obviously smart, point guard, but the perimeter is too deep for him to see many minutes as a freshman. Mantilla, a 6-3 shooting guard, could be another sharpshooter off the bench. Forward Michael Sands averaged 28 points and 15 rebounds as a senior at Carey High School in Franklin Square, New York. He will not put up of those lofty numbers at Yale, but has good size for a dynamic scorer. Over the last two years, Garrett Fiddler has led the state of Colorado in blocked shots and the 6-9 power forward will develop into a force under the basket in New Haven, Connecticut as well.
Who to Watch:
There is plenty of talent on the perimeter, led by Eric Flato. The 6-1 senior led the team in scoring, assists and steals last year. Any success the Bulldogs find this year will be on the shoulders of the sharpshooting point guard. Caleb Holmes is a decent shooter and will return to his starting position at shooting guard. His twin brother, Nick, will provide some scoring off the bench. Travis Pinick is the likely candidate to replace the departed Hughes. The 6-6 wing is a decent scorer, but more importantly will help out on the glass. Alexander Zampier had a decent freshman campaign, averaging 2.8 points and earned two starts. As a sophomore, Zampier is expected to play a bigger role.
The problem is in the paint. Ross Morin and Matt Kyle are good returning starters, but there is very little depth behind them. Both can score around the basket and Morin can hit the mid-range jumper with some consistency. If foul trouble or injuries strike, Yale will have to look to little used Paul Nelson or play a little smaller. However, for a team that should start only one player that is under 6-6, it is not a big deal if Pinick has to occasionally slide up to the power forward spot. It will not be easy, but Coach James Jones could lead Yale to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1962. He came close in 2002, when the Bulldogs won a game in the NIT, but getting into the NCAAs may be the beginnings of a third team among the Ivy League elite. Either that or it will be the culmination of years of rebuilding which will be followed by more years of rebuilding in New Haven, Connecticut.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Eric Flato, Senior, Guard, 15.3 points per game
Caleb Holmes, Senior, Guard, 8.7 points per game
Travis Pinick, Junior, Guard, 6.6 points per game
Ross Morin, Junior, Forward, 8.7 points per game
Matt Kyle, Senior, Center, 5.9 points per game