Yale’s hopes of capturing a third consecutive Ivy League championship suffered a massive blow when it was announced that junior point guard Makai Mason will miss the entire 2016-17 season with a broken foot. The injury occurred during a preseason scrimmage against Boston University.
Mason led the Bulldogs with 16 points, 3.8 assists, and 32.7 minutes per game last season. His breakout year helped propel Yale to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1962 and its first tournament win in school history.
With Mason on the sideline, Yale has now lost its entire starting lineup from last season, as Brandon Sherrod, Jack Montague, Nick Victor, and two-time Ivy League Player of the Year Justin Sears all graduated. The Bulldogs must now find a way to replace 81 percent of their scoring, 67.5 percent of their rebounding and 88 percent of their assists from last season.
The biggest question mark for coach James Jones and the Bulldogs will be their guard play. Senior Anthony Dallier, one of Yale’s only two returning rotation players, will be asked to carry a majority of the load in the backcourt. Dallier averaged 5 ppg, 1.3 apg and 3.2 rpg in 19.9 minutes off the bench last season. He was already expected to be a starter, but Yale’s captain will now be leaned on to carry a much larger load with Mason out of the lineup.
Dallier’s backcourt companion will likely be freshman Eric Monroe, the 62nd-ranked point guard in the class of 2016. He garnered a reputation as a sharpshooter during his high school career at Saint Augustine High School in San Diego, where he shot 39 percent from beyond the arc as a senior.
Forward Jordan Bruner is another freshman who will play big minutes for the Bulldogs. Bruner was a 3-star recruit from Columbia, SC who chose Yale over Power 5 schools Clemson, Georgia, and Tennessee. Bruner will start alongside senior forward Sam Downey. Downey shot a team-high 62 percent from the field last season while averaging 5.7 ppg and 3.4 rpg. Downey and Bruner are both listed at 6’9, which makes them the two tallest players on Yale’s roster. Jones will need high production from his two big men if his team wants to contend for another Ivy League title.
It is hard to overstate the massive impact that Mason’s injury will have on Yale’s season. He was the heart and soul of this team and the unquestioned catalyst of the offense. His absence will give others the chance to step up and lead, but the outlook is now much cloudier for the Bulldogs.
They do not have time to sit around feeling sorry for themselves, however, as they prepare for a pair of tough road tests against Washington and Virginia the first week of the season.