NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Cornell’s plan was pretty simple, really. After all, the Big Red’s biggest strength – pressure defense at a high tempo – coincided with Yale’s seemingly glaring weakness – turning the ball over at an alarming rate.
It worked for a few minutes, Makai Mason’ offensive foul was Yale’s fifth turnover just 7:36 in, and Cornell’s bench was jumping as the Bulldogs looked frustrated.
Then Yale settled in, and well, Mason will tell you all you need to know.
“We were pretty much getting anything we wanted once we broke their pressure,” Mason said. “It was just trying to move the ball, and there was always someone open, whoever had the open shot just had to knock it down.”
And if you’ve watched Yale lately, you know what they’ve done with open looks. In the end, it was a 29-6 run over eight minutes that was more like target practice. When Khaliq Ghani, who hadn’t had a field goal since Jan. 2, hit a pair of threes, it was 39-12 Yale, and all Cornell coach Bill Courtney could do – having already used two time outs – was throw up his hands.
“We came out with tremendous energy, but they were still able to make shots and put us in a hole,” Courtney said. “Their ability to offensive rebound just wouldn’t allow us to get out in transition and make a run.”
Yale made 14 of its first 18 shots en route to the 83-52 destruction, and the stat sheet shows that the carnage was much worse than the final score would indicate. The Bulldogs (15-5, 6-0), after being held to six offensive boards by Columbia, grabbed 57.1% of their misses (20 of 35), and while they only finished 30-64 from the field, the last seven players on the bench were 1-13. They hit double digits in three-pointers for the third straight game (12-23, now 37-60 in those games), and (after posting 1.53 ppp in the first half) finished at 1.32 ppp.
— Yale All-Access (@YaleAllAccess) February 7, 2016
Utterly dominant against a Cornell team that had dreams (they still might) of a top-four Ivy finish after winning at Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend, the same trip Yale will make next weekend. Yale is up to an all-time high No. 58 in Ken Pom. The Bulldogs’ 10-game win streak (their last loss was Dec. 13 at USC) is the program’s longest since 1957, which was the first year official Ivy League play began. The school record is 13, set when Harvard grad Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House and quite possibly a young C. Montgomery Burns was wandering the Yale campus (1907). The Bulldogs are now 10-0 at home and have won those games by an average of 21.9 points.
Alas, the 14-Game Tournament does not allow for much reflection, eight games remain, six of them away from New Haven, and Yale has to cool off at some point, don’t they? Don’t they? I mean Brandon Sherrod missed FOUR whole shots on Saturday night. KenPom has the chances of Yale sweeping next weekend at about 60 percent, and all things given, the rest of the Ivy has to like those odds.
— Justin Sears (@Jussears5) February 6, 2016
What else did we learn Saturday at Lee Amphitheater?:
- Cornell needs some size
Poor David Onuorah was basically the Big Red’s only hope inside, and he has done a decent job statistically, seventh in Ivy League play in defensive rebounding (19.5%) and fourth at the other end (9.7%). But no one else on his team is close, and against an opponent with Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod (Sam Downey added three offensive rebounds, too), even when they are missing, they’re just going to get putbacks (second-chance points were 22-1 Yale Saturday).
Cornell (9-11, 2-4) is 60th in forcing turnovers nationally, but only fourth in Ivy play (behind Princeton, Columbia, and Dartmouth). Combine that with 343rd in defensive rebounding, dead last in Ivy play, and you’ve got trouble.
It would obviously help if the Big Red could make shots, Matt Morgan and Robert Hatter (who scored just two points on 1-9 FG Saturday) getting hot simultaneously could help Cornell beat anyone in the Ivy League, but it certainly didn’t happen against Yale.
2) How good has Yale been offensively?
If you just take its Ivy League numbers, Yale is at 1.212 points per possession (adjusted), which would place it third behind Notre Dame and Duke nationally (ironically, both those teams have had their struggles). Its 60.5 eFG% would lead the nation (0.7% ahead of Saint Mary’s), and its 47.1 three-point % would also be the best in the country (Oklahoma currently is on top with 45.3%).
Yale plays Harvard next Saturday and right now, the Bulldogs are 47.1% from three-point range in Ivy play and the Crimson are shooting 49.5% …. from the free throw line.
Again, the big question is the sustainability of those numbers, especially going on the road for three-quarters of their remaining games. We’ll have to see together, I guess.
3) Taboo subjects
If there’s one thing James Jones hates talking about more than turnovers, it’s last season, and although it can be slightly annoying for pesky reporters looking for angles on stories, you can’t blame him too much.
As early as the summer, Jones was moving forward, never stopping to remember the bitter ending to last year’s wonderful campaign. Jones is currently the 18th longest tenured Division I coach (15th if you only include coaches whose schools have been in Division I the entire time), and is the longest tenured coach never to appear in an NCAA Tournament by a pretty wide margin (next on the list are two CAA coaches: Drexel’s Bruiser Flint, who at least got to coach in the NCAAs at UMass, and William & Mary’s Tony Shaver).
But now the trip to Dartmouth looms next Friday night, with Yale again in an excellent Ivy League position, and so Jones is ready to address it. Kind of.
“We had a chance to go 6-0 (in the Ivy League) last year and we didn’t (lost to Harvard at home),” Jones said. “We got one of the games back last year that we lost yesterday because we got beat by Columbia in our building. Now we have a chance to go on the road and get another one back that we lost at Dartmouth. We look forward to going out and being at our best next weekend.”
A photo posted by Ray Curren (@goldenbally) on