"To win the game is great. To play the game is greater. But to love the game is the greatest of all." - an inscription on the concourse wall of the Palestra - Jonathan Tannenwald
Let's grab some Casey's pizza, a guaco, and a tall glass of horchata (not BLAPP) and settle in for one last great season. Thanks to Kyle and the TMM community for changing the way I watch college basketball (and having a lot of fun in the process). - Mike Pettinato
Whenever you think you understand something, it's more complicated than that. Thanks to TMM for being complicated in the best possible way. - Darin Keener
Based on a poll of the coaches, the second game of the Connecticut 6, the Yale Bulldogs versus the Sacred Heart Pioneers, was supposed to be the best matchup of the day.
In the first half, the coaches appeared to be very wrong. After trading the lead for the first 10 minutes, the Bulldogs went on a 24-9 run to close the first half. The Pioneers were cold, missing plenty of shots and committing eight turnovers.
Yale seemed to have things comfortably in hand at the break with a 44-28 lead, leading one foolish sports writer to tweet:
For the first few minutes of the second half, he didn't seem so wrong. The Bulldogs added to their lead and were up 61-37 with 14:51 to play.
But the Pioneers came roaring back, managing to erase a 24-point lead in regulation and pick up the 85-82 win in overtime. So how did they do it? Let's take a closer look:
Hold the Bulldogs scoreless. For stretches of 4:46, 5:32 and 2:21, Yale didn't score a point. After averaging 2.4 points a minute for the first 25 of the game, the Bulldogs put up just 15 in the final 14:51 of regulation.
Hit their shots. Not counting a quick start where they made their first three baskets, the Pioneers were held to 42% shooting through the turning point. Down the stretch, Sacred Heart converted more baskets, making 14 of their final 24 shots in regulation and converting on 10 of 12 free throws.
I got the impression that this team could be a little streaky, especially early in the season. It will just be a matter of limiting the cold spells and capitalizing on the hot stretches.
Catch a break. Austin Morgan, a member of the Connecticut 6 preseason team, lived up to his billing for the Bulldogs. The senior scored a career-high 28 points Saturday, including 6-for-11 from 3 and 8-for-9 from the line.
But that one miss from the charity stripe proved to be costly. Up one with 18 seconds left, Sacred Heart coach Dave Bike told his team to foul anyone but Morgan. Out of the timeout, Yale was able to inbound the ball despite Sacred Heart's pressure. The ball was passed to Morgan, and Shane Gibson reached in for the foul.
"Not him," Bike said despondently, his voice carrying throughout Chase Family Arena. "I just said that."
Morgan stepped to the line and knocked down the first free throw, putting the Bulldogs up two. But he missed the second. Morgan wouldn't score again.
Convert when it counts. With new life, down two with the ball, Sacred Heart had a chance to play for the win or tie. The Pioneers turned to their senior leader, Shane Gibson.
Gibson's layup, his 27th point of the game -- he would finish with 29 -- and a subsequent inability by Yale to get a shot off sent the game to overtime.
One more hold. Sacred Heart led by three with 19 seconds to go and had to hold off Yale's attempt to tie.
So Sacred Heart made a somewhat improbable comeback -- Ken Pomeroy joked that it was karma for the Bulldogs -- and moved to 1-0 on the season.
As for me and the Connecticut 6, we still had one more game.