NEW HAVEN — Yale coach James Jones is counting down the days until the Ivy League campaign begins. He’s got nine more practices to get the Bulldogs battle-tested.

Tuesday night (Jan. 3) will be a classic dress rehearsal as Yale hosts Holy Cross (6-7) at the Lee Amphitheater at 7 p.m.

“Holy Cross is a league game,” Jones said. “Holy Cross is like every other team in our league. It’s like any Ivy League team coming in here, it just doesn’t have as much on the line.”

The Bulldogs (8-4) will try to snap a two-game skid against the Crusaders. After winning six straight, Yale is coming off losses at Wake Forest and No. 10 ranked Florida.

Despite the setbacks, it was a big week for Yale’s Greg Mangano. Mangano broke a long-standing school record and averaged 23 points and 13.5 rebounds in games against Wake Forest and Florida. On Monday he was named the Ivy League Player of the Week for the second time this season.

Against Wake Forest, a 72-71 loss, Mangano poured in 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. In addition, he recorded the 173rd block of his career, breaking the Yale record established by Chris Dudley in 1987.

“We knew it was going to be tough going on the road against a good ACC team and an SEC team,” Mangano said. “We kind of let the one at Wake slip away. We got down by 19 in the second half and then we went on a run. If we would have played them a little tighter in the second half we leave there with a win and that would have bee a real good win for our program.”

Yale lost at Florida 90-70 on New Year’s Eve and Mangano’s numbers were even more impressive. He scored 26 points and had 15 rebounds as the Bulldogs stayed with the Gators for much of the game. He was 11-of-18 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Fifteen of his points came in the second half.

“I felt good the whole road trip,” Mangano said. “Those 10 days off were not really 10 days off for me. Me and coach were working out the whole time. Those type of games are easy to get up for. Nationally televised, we only get a couple of those a year so its gives us a chance as a team and myself individually to show much we’ve improved.”

Mangano buried shots from all over the court against the Gators, drawing praise from players and coach Billy Donovan alike.

“I hope to see Greg play that hard and that well against everybody,” Jones said. “If he can play that well against Florida, obviously you’re not going to shoot the ball that well every night, but you can get 16 rebounds every night.”

A year ago, Jones handed Mangano a copy of Dudley’s stats from his senior year at Yale.

“Dudley got 15 rebounds every night,” Jones said. “If Greg can dominate like he should we’ll be much better for it.”

Both Jones and Mangano agree that the non-league portion of the schedule has proven that the Bulldogs can make a run at the Ivy League crown no matter how well teams like Harvard, ranked 22nd in the nation and Princeton, with wins over Florida State and Rutgers, have performed.

“I wouldn’t say we took a step back (losing to Wake Forest and Florida),” Mangano said. “It’s a building block for us. We still feel good and can start a winning streak tomorrow. We know how well Harvard is doing, but we still feel like we can match up with them.”

Jones said playing the nation’s best teams helps identify his team’s weaknesses as the league schedule approaches.

“Playing against Florida showed we have to work on our transition defense,” he said. “They exploit your weaknesses like you won’t get exploited by anybody else. They’ll show a crack and against those teams it’s a flood.”

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