2017-18 record: 16-15, 9-5 in the Ivy League
Head coach: James Jones
Tenure at Yale: 20th season
Career coaching record: 288-265
Home court: Payne Whitney Gymnasium
Starters: G Trey Phills, G Alex Copeland, G Miye Oni, F Blake Reynolds, F Jordan Bruner
Bench: G Azar Swain, G Eric Monroe, G Matthue Cotton, F Paul Atkinson, F Isaiah Kelly
Overview: Last season, Yale finished third in the Ivy League behind both Penn and Harvard, eventually losing to the Quakers in the semifinals of the Ivy League tournament. During Jones’ tenure as head coach, the Bulldogs have only won the Ivy League and earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament once—in 2016. However, the 12th-seeded Yale squad did upset Baylor in the first round of that lone appearance and came within eight points of defeating Duke two days later.
In the Ivy League preseason media poll released two weeks ago, Yale was predicted to finish third, behind Harvard and Penn yet again. While the Crimson are widely projected as the Ivy League favorite, one can make a case the Bulldogs should surpass the Quakers as Harvard’s biggest challenger due to their strong returning class.
The Bulldogs will bring back 92 percent of their offensive production from last season, headlined by Conference Player of the Year candidate Miye Oni. Not only that, but Jordan Bruner could claim a spot in the starting lineup after missing the entire 2017-18 season with a torn meniscus. Yale is one of the most experienced teams in the Ivy League, with upperclassmen making up the entirety of its starting five.
One thing that needs to go right: If Yale hopes to jump Penn and Harvard for the conference crown, it needs Oni to be the go-to option that he’s projected to be. If the Northridge, Calif. native is unable to live up to the hype entering his junior campaign, the Bulldogs can eliminate all hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid.
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One thing that could go wrong: It looks as if the Reynolds and Bruner duo will form one of the best frontcourts in the conference and wreak havoc on Yale’s Ivy League opponents. But if Bruner is unable to return to his freshman form—when he averaged 8.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game—following injury, the Bulldogs will likely drop from that first tier in the conference.