Game #9-175: Albertus Magnus at Yale BulldogsDecember 18, 2012 7:00 pm
John J. Lee Amphitheater
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - I've tried to avoid lower division teams in my travels thus far. I've got nothing against the little guys, and Black Line upsets are always fun, but: a) I want to see as many Division I schools as many times as possible before the season is done, and b) I like to see competitive games if I can help it.
To be honest, there aren't many opportunities in the Northeast anyway, teams just don't seem to play games against schools on the other side of the Black Line, even though Southern Connecticut and New Haven - both D-II programs - are within a few minutes of me, they never get "real" games against the local Division I schools.
Yale is an exception. With a schedule that includes only 14 league games and a rigorous academic calendar to adhere to, the Ivy Leaguers are more willing to schedule lower division teams if it fits the dates that they're looking for, and Tuesday night, Yale hosted Albertus Magnus at Lee Amphitheater.
(Would you believe that this was my first trip down the street to Payne Whitney Gym, which Lee Amphitheater is inside, this season? Probably my favorite place to watch college basketball, too, yet it was the ninth different venue in our little state that I've seen a game for TMM this season. Strange.)
Tiny Albertus Magnus College sits about one mile from my house down Whitney Ave. (Edgerton Park is located across the street, where I go to watch live
Shakespeare performances every summer. Seriously
.) It has about 1,500 undergrads, and - although it has a decent academic reputation - had a dreadful athletic program until a few years ago. I went to a women's game there to see a former player and Albertus had seven players on their roster, Hoosiers style. The women's soccer team was also begging for warm bodies to continue to field a team.
But, albeit under the radar in Division III, Albertus has a legitimate athletic program these days. The women's soccer coaches, friends of mine, have built a conference power in the mighty GNAC
(my best high school player may play for them next season).
I knew the men's basketball team had turned things around under former Quinnipiac assistant Mitch Oliver, this 2010 NCAA buzzer beater against William Patterson
has 128,000 views on YouTube. But even I don't have too much time to keep up with everything, so in doing some quick research, I saw that they were 28-2 last season. Wait? 28-2? How did I not know that?
They were 7-0 this season as well, so maybe they did have a shot against a 3-7 Yale squad that will host Florida in their next home game. Yes, the University of Florida. There must be a story on how Yale got them to come to this tiny gym.
Anyway, for kicks, and because it was on the route, I stopped in the Albertus main lot, if you can call it that, and drove to Payne Whitney. From starting the engine to killing it, I timed it at 4 minutes, 41 seconds, although I'm sure if I hit the lights better or could parallel park with any kind of aptitude, I could cut into that.
In the end, I could tell pretty quickly that I'd been duped. In warm-ups, Albertus was tiny. We lose track sometimes from the stands that the average Division I basketball player is tall, like ridiculously above average tall. The Falcons had a bunch of 5 foot-something guards and a skinny 6-foot-4 kid trying to play in the post. It just wasn't going to work.
Not that Albertus didn't try. Oliver got a huge boost a few years back when he landed local talent Ray Askew, who went on to be a Division III All-American. Early in the game, you could see that junior Darius Watson was that type of player, as at 6-foot-5, he scored eight straight points, including a pair of #superhoops, to draw Albertus within 13-12.
Of course, one of the reasons a kid like Watson might end up in Division III is the chance to be a star. He ended up scoring 19 points, but took 18 shots in 25 minutes.
Quite simply, the tiny Falcons couldn't get their hands on the basketball. They were outrebounded 60-19 (not a typo) as the lead puffed and puffed until it was 52-28 at the half.
As I talked about with Stony Brook
, sometimes we thumb our collective noses at defense, but when Albertus was slow to rotate and couldn't get through screens, among other little things that sometimes go unnoticed, Yale was able to get layup after layup. When they didn't, they had open looks for #superhoops. Poor Oliver ranted and raved, and he'll probably say his team played poorly, but they were just outclassed.
With the game getting out of hand, I saw perhaps the most bizarre basket I've ever seen short of a 10-year old biddy game. Yale's Austin Morgan drove the lane, and tried to slide a bounce pass to teammate Justin Sears, but it was way too low, and appeared to hit Sears near the shin. It then caromed off at least two, possible three Albertus players before popping up in the air and going in the basket, almost Flubber style
. Hopefully, someone had video of it and will share it with us, I'd like to see it again personally.James Jones
subbed liberally throughout and was 13 deep early in the second half. Will Childs-Klein, literally the last player off his bench, had three #omgdunx, Yale was into showtime mode (yeah, I didn't know they had it, either) as it was 78-41 with 13:46 left.
You noticed some of the hurdles that Division III teams faced in the next sequence. Guard Arshad Jackson went down with what looked like back spasms, and limped off the court with the help of the Yale trainer. Division III teams don't normally have trainers for road games, and with only two assistant coaches, Oliver was forced to temporarily take care of his player.
But a couple of minutes later, the frustration of Yale's showtime got to Watson. With Nick Victor about to throw down yet another Yale dunk on a breakaway, Watson shoved him from behind, and everyone is lucky that Victor missed the protruding wooden bleachers and didn't go head-first into the brick wall behind the hoop. He was shaken up, but would return to the game.
Wisely, Watson -given a flagrant foul - wouldn't, although he did show contrition immediately after the fact. By then, Albertus had someone, hopefully the trainer, come out of the stands and treat Jackson, who made it back to the bench by game's end.
In the end, it was the textbook definition of a laugher. All 13 Yale players scored at least four points and the Bulldogs flooded the stat sheet with 27 assists on 42 field goals. It also showed what up-tempo basketball - which I love - can do when a team tries it when outclassed. Albertus forced 22 turnovers and had 12 steals, but still gave up 112 points. Oh, how did you do it back in the day, LMU? I guess they would have just scored 113. Or 153.
The lesson I took out of this one, is that Division I basketball players, even way below the Red Line, are very good at what they do.
However, even though they got annihilated in this game, if Albertus has the success it had last year, I think I owe it to them to walk down the street and check out a game. Or, short of that, at least acknowledge their existence. We know about people not really acknowledging our presence, don't we?