#137 Yale Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Yale Bulldogs
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #137
Conference Rank: #3 Ivy League
This will be a very interesting season for Yale. They are coming off of their best season ever where they went 23-7 overall, won an Ivy League title and knocked off Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. That success will not continue in 2016-2017, but the Bulldogs have the opportunity to stay among the top teams in the Ivy League. For this year, Makai Mason will have to lead the way. The junior guard led Yale with 16.0 points and 3.8 assists per game and is the only player back who averaged over 5.7 points per game. This is his year to keep Yale in the Ivy race.
2015-16 Record: 23-7, 13-1
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: James Jones
Coach Record: 237-238 at Yale, 237-238 overall
Who’s Out:
Losing forward Justin Sears is a big blow. It was Sears who carried the Bulldogs to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1962. He averaged 15.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during his magical senior season. The frontcourt also loses Brandon Sherrod, who added 12.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. That is a lot of frontcourt production lost, not to mention their leadership. The losses do not get any better on the perimeter, where Jack Montague, Nick Victor and Khaliq Ghani need to be replaced. Montague made headlines for missing out on the NCAA Tournament, but he averaged 9.7 points per game during his 20 appearances. Montague was the team’s most prolific outside shooter. Nick Victor stepped into a larger role when Montague was out and turned into a very consistent outside shooter. Ghani became Yale’s top bench guard at the end of his senior season, but his minutes were still quite limited.
Who’s In:
This is where Yale needs things to work out. The expectations are pretty high for this four player class and a couple of them could be starting sooner than later. Miye Oni is a big 6-6, 200 pound guard who can score in bunches. His combination of size and speed will be a very tough matchup in the Ivy League. The backcourt also adds Eric Monroe, the likely point guard of the future. Monroe may not develop into a major scoring threat at the collegiate level, but he is a winner and a leader who can put his teammates in positions to score. Austin Williams and Jordan Bruner are the newcomers in the frontcourt. Williams will help out on the glass right away, but the expectations are higher for Bruner. The lanky 6-9, 194 pound forward spurned Clemson to head to Yale and his athleticism and talent should earn him major minutes from day one.
Who to Watch:
Mason is the only full-time starter returning, but Anthony Dallier and Sam Downey both have starting experience. Dallier stepped into the starting five for Montague and scored in double figures in six of his ten starts. His outside shot started falling right at the end of the season and Dallier should be one of the team’s top outside shooting threats in 2016-2017. Downey is the most experienced forward on the roster. The 6-9, 225 pound senior only averaged 5.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last year, but that was while stuck behind Sears and Sherrod. The newcomers will certainly push Downey for minutes, yet Downey will be the senior leader of the frontcourt and should be able to hold down the starting center spot for the entire season.
Final Projection:
Yale did not have much depth last season and losing four starters is a huge issue. The team depth may not be that great this year either, but that will work out just fine as long as Coach James Jones can find six or seven players. Mason, Dallier and Downey are proven options and the newcomers have talent, but there are a handful of others who will be looking to crack the regular rotation. Trey Phills, Alex Copeland and Blake Reynolds all showed some potential as freshmen despite limited playing time. Those three will not let the freshmen take all of the jobs in the regular rotation without a fight. It may take some time with so much inexperience, but by the time Ivy League action rolls around, Yale will be one of the more talented teams in the conference.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Makai Mason, Junior, Guard, 16.0 points per game
Anthony Dallier, Senior, Guard, 5.0 points per game
Miye Oni, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Jordan Bruner, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Sam Downey, Senior, Forward, 5.7 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.9 (139th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.8 (17, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.9 (39, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.0 (52, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (237, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.3 (95, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.0 (282, 6)
Rebound Margin: 10.9 (2, 1)
Assists Per Game: 15.1 (64, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (230, 3)