Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spotlight on: Brian Kreefer

Now that Cornell’s starting center Andrew Naeve (6’10” 240 lbs.) as well as part-time starting power forward Ugo Ihekweazu (6’5” 220 lb.) have graduated, Cornell must begin to evaluate its returning frontcourt players and look to the future. The obvious replacements in the starting line appear to be Alex Tyler (6’7” 245 lb. Soph.) at power forward and Jason Hartford (6’9” 245 lb. Sr.) at center. However, with Hartford’s health status still a concern after sitting out 2006-2007 with a broken foot, several other returnees may be called-upon to play significant minutes during 2007-2008 at either the power forward or center positions. In the mix for playing time in the low blocks will be Jeff Foote (7’0” 210 lb. Soph. St. Bonaventure transfer), Pete Reynolds (6’8” 215 lb. Soph.) and Brian Kreefer (6’7” 220 lb. Jr.).

Kreefer has the most experience of the 2007-2008 returning frontcourt players and the Big Red will need significant improvement from the Liverpool, Ohio native if he is going to make positive contributions next season.

During 2006-2007, Kreefer averaged 13.4 minutes per game, appearing in 27 contests and starting 10 games for the Big Red. On the season, he averaged 5.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game while shooting 46% from the floor, 70% from the free throw line and 26% from beyond the arc. However, in Ivy games, his minutes declined and Kreefer only averaged 6.4 minutes per contest. Coach Donahue’s decision to limit Kreefer’s minutes could be the result of Kreefer’s poor shot selections and generally cold shooting.

The year started bright for Kreefer. In Cornell’s first 11 games, he broke double-digits six times, including scoring 20 points against Lehigh and 23 against Army. He also had 10 points on the big stage against the Iowa Hawkeyes. But Kreefer’s shots did not fall consistently during the season and he overly relied on shooting from the perimeter, taking 50 of his 109 shot attempts on the season from three point territory. And although Kreefer did knock down 13 three pointers on the year, 5 of his “trifectas” came on a hot shooting night against Army where he was 5/7 from downtown. Thus, aside from the Army game, Kreefer was 8 of 43 from beyond the arc on the season, a poor 19%. He was also a dreadful 1 of 10 from beyond the arc against Ivy opponents.

Blessed with tremendous upper body strength and toughness around the hoop, Kreefer can become an invaluable member of the Big Red rotation if he learns to redefine his game and focuses more on scoring closer to the basket. He will be a key player to watch during the preseason.

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