#110 Yale Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview


Yale Bulldogs


2017-2018 Overall Rank: #110

Conference Rank: #3 Ivy League

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Yale and Coach James Jones needed a season to rebuild after their impressive victory over Baylor in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs did not fall too far down the Ivy League pecking order though, finishing in third place with a 9-5 conference mark. They were not too far off from reaching the NCAA Tournament again either after beating Harvard in the Ivy League Tournament and falling to Princeton by 12 in the final. With two starters gone, Yale does have a little more rebuilding to do this year, but this is a team that should compete for another conference title. The return of Makai Mason from injury will help. Two years ago he led the Bulldogs with 16.0 points and 3.8 assists. If healthy, which is a lingering concern, Mason can dominate any team he plays against.
2016-17 Record: 18-11, 9-5
2016-17 Postseason: None
Coach: James Jones
Coach Record: 272-249 at Yale, 272-249 overall
Who’s Out:
Anthony Dallier and Sam Downey are the two starters lost. However, with the rest of the regular rotation returning and Mason on the mend, the Bulldogs can make a serious run at an Ivy League title. Dallier was a solid all-around guard who averaged 9.4 points, 4.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. He also ranked third on the team with 39 made three-pointers. Downey was the best interior scorer on the team last season. He averaged 11.8 points per game and led the team with 6.9 rebounds. Replacing Downey will be a bit trickier since there is not an obvious replacement like Mason for Dallier.
Who’s In:
There is some size among the five newcomers though, although there is still enough depth that none of them will have to make an immediate impact. Paul Atkinson has plenty of potential. The 6-10, 220 pound forward is a good scorer in the paint and will likely be the most productive shot blocker on the team from day one. Jameel Alausa is a versatile 6-7 forward who can cause mismatches on both ends of the floor once his outside shot develops a little more. Wyatt Yess will eventually be one of the better rebounders on the team. On the perimeter, Jalen Gabbidon and Azar Swain join the fray. Swain is the reigning Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year and is a big time scorer. The 6-0 guard could immediately make an impact as a scorer off the bench.
Who to Watch:
The backcourt is pretty crowded though. Trey Phills and Miye Oni figure to join Mason in the starting lineup, however leading scorer Alex Copeland is certainly worthy of a starting spot as well. Last year Copeland was mostly used as the sixth man, but averaged 12.9 points per game. He is not a great shooter and connected on just 29.3 percent of his attempts from long range, yet the 6-3 Copeland has a nice mid-range game and is very dangerous attacking the basket. Phills, a 6-2 junior, started 25 games as a sophomore. He is not a major scoring threat, but is a solid defender. Oni is a versatile 6-7 guard who had a superb freshman campaign. He averaged 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 blocks. With his size and versatility, Yale could certainly play him at the four spot. With his three-point shooting ability though, he is a matchup nightmare on the wing.
Final Projection:
Blake Reynolds returns as a starter in the frontcourt after averaging 9.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists during his sophomore season. At 6-7 and 240 pounds, Reynolds can man the five spot if Coach Jones wants to play smaller with Oni at the four. The more likely scenario is that Jordan Bruner starts after a great freshman campaign. He averaged 8.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks and is more than ready to emerge as the star of the frontcourt. This is a talented team and a team with enough depth to win the Ivy League. However, much of their success will depend on the health of Mason. If he is back to his old form, Yale will be right in the mix for a conference title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Makai Mason. Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Trey Phills, Junior, Guard, 7.1 points per game
Miye Oni, Sophomore, Guard, 12.9 points per game
Blake Reynolds, Junior, Forward, 9.4 points per game
Jordan Bruner, Sophomore, Forward, 8.4 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.2 (151st in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.9 (114, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.7 (60, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.9 (124, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.2 (193, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.7 (138, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.2 (81, 4)
Rebound Margin: 3.4 (75, 1)
Assists Per Game: 15.7 (44, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (169, 4)