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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sherrod, Yale ready for showdown with Penn

By Bill Cloutier
Assistant Sports Editor
bcloutier@nhregister.com
NEW HAVEN --Taking a peripheral look at the Yale men’s basketball team one might think that the window is closing on its chances to win the Ivy League and earn an NCAA Tournament berth. With superstars like Greg Mangano and Reggie Willhite in their senior seasons it seems like it’s now or never.
Then you talk to freshman Brandon Sherrod and feel that things might even get better.
Sherrod and the Bulldogs (13-5, 3-1 Ivy) play host to Pennsylvania (11-9, 3-0) tonight at the Lee Amphitheater to kick off a crucial weekend of action in New Haven. On Saturday night Yale hosts Princeton (10-9, 1-2).
“I think our guys understand that our season is still ahead of us,” Yale coach James Jones said. “We still can accomplish everything that we want to accomplish. There was some embarrassment on Friday night (a 65-35 loss against Harvard) and there should have been but 18-year-old kids forget very easily.”
Sherrod is one of class of five promising freshmen Jones brought in last year. They’re all big and have just scratched the surface of their burgeoning talent. They include St. Louis center Will Childs-Klein and guard Javier Duren along with New York forward Matt Townsend and guard Armani Cotton.

“We call ourselves the Fab Five,” Sherrod said. “I’m blessed enough to be in that class. We could be very good in a couple of years.”
Sherrod stays after practice working with Townsend, a rugged 6-7 forward, on his perimeter game which he wants to add to his repertoire. He’s already a presence under the boards. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, Sherrod, an All-Stater for Stratford High who helped Choate win a prep school title last year, hunts down rebounds and has strong moves around the boards.
“The thing that strikes you most about Brandon is his athleticism,” Jones said. “He’ a big strong man for a 19-year-old kid. Then you meet him and he’s got a tremendous personality. He’s very well-spoken and has great faith.
“He’a a rabbit chasing the ball. He had eight rebounds in 10 minutes against Harvard and it’s amazing how he goes after the ball. Offensively he goes to his left very well and a lot of big guys struggle going to the opposite hand. There’s no question he can be a big scorer and he puts a lot of time into it.”
Penn provides a major test. Entering the contest undefeated in the Ivy League after cruising past rival Princeton on Monday, the Quakers are led by the high-scoring duo of Zach Rosen and Tyler Bernardini.
“Both teams have two exceptional players,” Jones said. “Zach Rosen is playing as good as anybody I’ve seen in the country. I don’t know that he’s had a bad game shooting the 3-pointer all season long. He made some shots from (near half-court) against Princeton and hit nothing but the bottom of the cup.”
Bernardini poured in 29 points earlier in the season in a game at UCLA.
“You can’t forget about Bernardini. He’s finally has his legs back after all the injuries that he’s had. He’s about 45 or 46. He graduated high school the same year that I did,” Jones quipped.
Sherrod knows the competition will be stiff but he’s ready for most any challenge. He even calls his plight as a kid from Bridgeport going to Yale amazing and he has seen the most action of the freshmen class averaging 3.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 11 minutes a game.
“I think it’s a pretty good story, a kid from Bridgeport which is a pretty tough city coming to such a prestigious university,” Sherrod said. “To have my friends and family be able to come and see me develop as a player is even more special.
“Becoming a student at Yale was a wild adjustment as far as my time-management skills go because I’m so involved in a lot of things. I was singing a cappella with an all-Christian group called ‘Living Waters.’ I’m also a part of the Yale Faith in Action group.”
On the court Sherrod also continues to develop.
“I’ve learned a lot from Greg Mangano and (forward) Jeremiah Kreisberg,” he said. “I’ve worked hard and I’m happy how I’ve played so far. It’s nice to be the sixth or seventh man off the bench. I’m blessed with what I’ve been given. I like where I’m at right now. My role now is just to rebound and get after it, play defense and score when I need to in the paint. I’m here to provide a lot of energy for my team.”
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