Coming off a 2-1 showing in Charleston, the Pirates embark on their long homestand beginning tonight when they host Yale at the Rock.
Here's more on the Bulldogs for your reading pleasure:
2011-12 record: 2-1
All-time series record: 2-1
Last meeting: 2/13/43 (43-32 SHU W)
The Pirates have only played Yale three times in their history, and two of those times were in 1925 and 1927. The last meeting was over 68 years ago.
But neither team is anything like they were in those dark days for offense, so let's get to the current Bulldogs.
They're no pushover. Yale had a 15-13 season last year, led by senior point guard Porter Braswell and all-Ivy forward Greg Mangano. Braswell is gone, but Mangano is still around. He tested the NBA waters in the offseason, but came back instead for his senior season. He's a multi-skilled forward listed at 6'10" with an affinity for shot-blocking and a range out to the three point line. He's struggling so far this year shooting the ball, but you have to pay attention to him.
In addition to Mangano, on the perimeter is Reggie Willhite, another senior who is leading the Bulldogs in scoring so far. Willhite's a strong perimeter player who excels on defense and taking the ball to the basket, so that's another main threat Yale can put out there. The rest of the team is filled with capable shooters on the perimeter and a nice center in Jeremiah Kreisberg who has some good post moves. Yale's not a team that will go out and beat all comers, but they are one of the best teams in the Ivy League this year boasting the Preseason Ivy League Player of the Year in Mangano and a defense that has held its opponents to 35% shooting this year with a 26% from behind the arc (if you don't include a 101-37 blowout over D-3 Lyndon State in their last game on Thursday).
Seton Hall will win if:
- Herb Pope continues his roll
He's the second-leading scorer in the Big East so far this year, mere percentage points behind UConn's Jeremy Lamb, and he's also second in rebounding behind Kevin Jones of West Virginia. He's on a roll like none we've ever seen from him, and Yale's starting frontcourt is Mangano and Kreisberg, both 6'10" with the shot-blocking of Mangano. Herb plays well against that kind of size and the Pirates should have no problem with the Bulldogs.
- Patrik snaps "Auda" it
Patrik Auda is in a funk on both ends of the court. He started the season well, but has since had a couple sub-par games. Pope can't do it all (although he has done it so far, to his credit) for the entire season, so this game would represent a prime opportunity for the sophomore to get back on track.
Yale could win if:
- Mangano snaps out of it
Mangano, averaged 16 PTS, 10 REB and 3 BLK, last year, but this season he's shooting just 36% and averaging 11.7 PTS and 8.7 REB. Mangano is looking to get a promising season going, and going up against a major-conference opponent with a major-conference big like Pope could get his juices flowing again, which would not be good for the Pirates.
- They make threes
Yale has shot the ball at a nice 40% clip from deep this year on 70 attempts, but if you take away their last game against Lyndon State, they're only making 31% from behind the three point arc. Despite the dramatic advantage any D-1 team has against a D-3 squad, the Lyndon State game showed that the Bulldogs can hit from out there when given enough space, so if they can hit some threes, it could make this interesting.
On a final note, I'll be making my season debut on the radio tonight on 89.5 FM WSOU and www.wsou.net calling the action. So if you can't make it out to the Rock, tune on in and give a listen to all the play-by-play action!