NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Anthony Latina was a little frustrated his team couldn’t have done a little better Monday night, but he knew that going up against a frontcourt like Yale was going to be difficult for his undersized team anyway. And without the injured Tevin Falzon and Matej Buovac – two players expected to play major minutes for the Pioneers – it was always going to be an uphill battle.
You throw in the new freedom of movement rules, and Yale (2-0) had an offensive bonanza, posted 1.34 points per possession (unofficially, its highest since a win at Dartmouth in 2008) and posting its highest point total against a Division I opponent in 13 years (incidentally, Yale lost that game 114-102 at George Washington) at Lee Amphitheater.
All Latina could do was tip his proverbial cap.
“They’re a ready team,” Latina, whose team fell to 1-1, said. “We’re coming, but they’re ready now. I’m disappointed but not discouraged because we showed some character, but we’re not at their level right now. They are probably a legitimate Top 50 team. We can play better, but this was more that Yale made us play poorly. We didn’t have our guys, but we weren’t beating them today no matter who we had out there. We weren’t catching them the way they were playing, but we’ll get better.”
What else did we learn on a warm Monday night in New Haven?
- Cane Broome is legit, but so is Makai Mason
Yale was 55th nationally in defensive efficiency and made many guards in the Ivy League look pretty ordinary last season, but despite the final score, the Bulldogs had little answer for Cane Broome, who finished with 32 points (10-14 FG) and five assists (to be fair, he did turn the ball over seven times, the same total Yale had as a team). Broome is now averaging 29.5 points per game in the early season, and the new freedom of movement rules seem to help him even more.
His opposite number, Yale’s Makai Mason, is off to a fine start of his own, and as it turns out, Mason and Broome (who grew up about 45 minutes apart) were AAU teammates for many years (leading James Jones to quip, “Did anyone else get to shoot on those teams?”). Whoever was coaching them appears to have done a heck of a job, although they do things a little differently, both have the key ability to finish at the rim (in short supply, especially among mid-major guards). Mason also just missed posting a career-high for a second straight game, scoring 21 (after 23 on Friday), and looking calm and composed while doing it.
“It was cool to go at him again like we did in practice,” Mason said. “He’s really tough to guard, he’s quick, has a quick release and can finish at the rim, but it was cool to have some chatter back and forth as the game went on.”
Could both by first-team all-conference selections by March? And both be in the NCAA Tournament? Maybe?
2) Even though it killed them tonight, Sacred Heart still likes the new rules
The Pioneers were called for 16 fouls and a technical on Quincy McKnight in the first half, allowing Yale to go to the free throw line 21 times and putting Sacred Heart in foul trouble it never really recovered from. In the second half, they didn’t foul as much, but the alternative might have been worse: easy buckets and clear paths to the rim for Yale. But as I previously alluded to, the new rules help players like Broome tremendously as well, so Latina – even though it didn’t look that way during the game – was not about to criticize the officiating.
“It was called very tight and we got frustrated and did not adjust,” Latina said. “I didn’t do a good job adjusting, and our players didn’t. Yale did. Every foul that was called was probably a foul, and they probably could have called more fouls, that’s the way it’s going to be.”
3) The role of Nick Victor could be key for Yale
Victor basically missed all of last season (he did play in six games, but never in key minutes, but he started 30 games in 2013-14 and clearly will play a huge role as the starting small forward. He won’t score much and he is a liability at the free throw line (although he made both against Fairfield in the opener), but his amazing stat line Monday may be indicative of what he can do for the Bulldogs: 22 minutes, 0 points, 0-1 FG, 11 rebounds. He is a great defender with good size (6’5”) for his position, however it does remain to be seen if he can knock down shots when teams double in the post (and they likely won’t leave Mason or Jack Montague open), but so far, so good.
.“That probably won’t be the last time Nick does that this season,” Jones said. “He does a great job for us and he’s bought into his role and he’s a big part of why we’ve been successful in the first two games. We’ve been able to get to the free throw line. We’re very difficult to guard because of our size and athleticism, and we gave them a lot of issues inside with Justin and Brandon. Brandon took 13 free throws in the first game and 10 tonight, so if can do that, it opens things up for other people.”