In what has become a perennial intraleague rivalry, Columbia will compete in round five of the Battle of the Joneses.
With their trip to Princeton and Penn ending in routs by both the Tigers and Quakers, the Yale Bulldogs are eager to rebound. The Elis' next opposition will be the Columbia Lions in a matchup that is special no matter how much Yale head coach James Jones wants to treat it like business as usual.
"The game itself isn't different, but before and after the game are different," James Jones said. "The feelings are different than when you play somebody else. My brother and I have not spoken this week, and we will probably not speak until after the end of the game."
Yale has faced some of the same problems as Columbia has, albeit on a smaller scale. After wrapping up non-conference play with a winning record, the Elis' play has leveled off in Ivy competition, particularly in the last two games.
"We haven't shot the ball well from the free throw line, and that hurts us," James Jones said. "We were shooting about 70 percent in non-conference play. Also rebounding: we are plus three out of conference, minus two in conference. We've also struggled to take care of basketball. These three areas are what we need to improve in."
The Bulldogs' last game against Penn was particularly frustrating. After charging out of the gate on fire against the Quakers, shooting 60 percent from the field in the first half, the Elis were able to build a 16-1 lead early in the first half. But Yale's offense soon petered out, shooting just 33.3 percent after halftime en route to an eventual 22-point loss.
Senior center Dominick Martin will be key to the Bulldogs' bounce back effort against Columbia. A transfer student from Princeton, Martin has fully assumed leadership of the Elis' offense, leading the team in scoring. His latest 20-point effort against Penn came on 7-of-12 shooting, and his field goal percentage on the season is 53.3.
Martin feels that a sure shooting touch will be key to Yale's game plan.
"It's definitely one of our goals," Martin said, "We are a good three-point team. It changes the game a little bit."
Martin can look to Columbia's last effort against Dartmouth to see the effects of a sweet long-range stroke. The Big Green hit 42.1 percent of the threes and scored almost a third of their points from beyond the arc in the winning effort. Martin also feels that crowd involvement will aid Yale's effort, with the Bulldogs having won 13 of their last 14 conference games at home.
"We have really good fans," Martin said, "When the crowd is behind you, shots fall and tip in."
Despite their impressive record at home and Columbia's recent struggles, James Jones is treating the Lions as an equal opponent.
"We just lost two games in a row," he said. "We don't look at this as we're a better team than Columbia. We just need to make sure we play well. "