The Cornell Basketball Blog provides our evaluation of the Big Red after five games. Let us know whether you agree and disagree with our evaluations. Go Big Red!
Offense (A+ grade)-Not much to complain about. As of this posting, Cornell is shooting 52% from the floor (13th in the nation), 51% from beyond the arc (1st in the nation), and 77% at the free throw line (20th in the nation), while averaging 85 points per game, good for 21st in the nation. The offense is also balanced with six different players averaging better than 9 points per game and four averaging double figures. Cornell's 108 free throw attempts in just five games places the Big Red among the nation's best in getting to the foul line.
Defense (C+ grade)-While we give Cornell a low mark in defense, the Big Red has improved each game in this area. Cornell's opponents are averaging nearly 82 points per game. But since allowing Ohio (Nov 17) to score 102 points, the Big Red has tightened up defensively, allowing fewer points each game, 78 vs Army Nov. 20, 77 points vs Siena Nov. 25, and 68 points vs Binghamton Nov. 27. Cornell's perimeter defense has also stepped it up as opponents are shooting only 34% from beyond the arc against the Big Red. The area for needed improvement is the allowed 46% from the field. Cornell needs to get this percentage closer to 40% each game.
- Head Coach Steve Donahue (A- Grade)-Coach Donahue has done an excellent job managing his rotation. He has used the same five starters (Hartford, Tyler, Wittman, Gore, and Dale) in each of the five games. He has also essentially used the same five reserves in each game (Robinson, Wilkins, Kreefer, Reeves and Battle). With the exception of one player (Reynolds), the rest of the roster (Gant, Foote, Osgood, Wire, Jaques, and Mullen) has yet to see playing time. Coach Donahue has also done an excellent job in managing time outs and making defensive and offensive adjustments. He has also helped improve his team's ability to "close out" games, an area where Cornell struggled last year.
- Alex Tyler 6'7" Sophomore (B Grade)-Tyler is averaging more than 3 fouls per game despite playing only 19 minutes per game. He is also averaging more than 3 turnovers per game, 2nd on the team. Several of these turnovers and fouls originated from "player control fouls" (i.e. charges). While he should remain aggressive inside, he needs to play smarter. And if he can control his fouls and turnovers, he will stay on the floor longer and become a more dominating player. He is averaging a very solid 6.6 points and 4.4 rebounds while shooting 50% from the floor. Tyler would start at power forward for virtually every Ivy League team.
- Jason Hartford 6'9" Senior (B+ Grade)-When on the floor, Hartford can be dominant. He is only playing 19 minutes per game, but he is averaging 9.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, while hitting 56% from the floor, 55% (6/11) from beyond the arc and 83% at the line (5/6). He needs to assert himself more defensively and must set more screen picks on the high post for the guards.
- Ryan Wittman 6'6" Sophomore (A Grade)-In the last two games, Wittman has upped his grade to an "A" as he has developed a complete all-around game. He is averaging 15.0 points, 6.2 rebounds on 54% shooting from the floor and a mind-blowing 58% from beyond the arc. He is 8/11 from the free throw line. His commitment to rebounding and varying his shot selection has elevated his game to a new level.
- Adam Gore 6'0" Sophomore (B Grade)-Gore is a bit rusty shooting from his year off (39% FGs, 35% 3 PTs, 94% FTs) but his production had been solid, 26 minutes, 9.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game to go along with hard nosed defense (7 steals) and terrific leadership. In a few more months, his shots should begin to fall more efficiently.
- Louis Dale 5'11" Sophomore (A+ Grade)-If the season ended today, Dale would have to be Ivy League Player of the Year. He is an unbelievable stat sheet stuffer as he is averaging in 27 minutes per game, 15.4 points, 7.0 assists (12th in the nation), and 4.8 rebounds per game on 50% FGs, 50% 3 PTs, and 88% FTs. Cornell will be more successful if Dale attacks the basket relentlessly. There is not a guard in the Ivy League that can defend him.
- Collin Robinson 6'0" Sophomore (A+ Grade)-Behind Dale, the 2nd best point guard in the Ivy League and hands down the Ivy League's top "6th Man". Robinson is averaging 12.8 points, 5.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game on 48% from the floor, 50% from beyond the arc (6/12) and 77% at the line (10/13). He also has 7 steals in 5 games. Robinson's unselfish play and tag-team play with Louis Dale has created tremendous scoring opportunities for the Big Red perimeter shooting wings, in particular, Ryan Wittman and Adam Gore.
- Brian Kreefer 6'7" Junior (B+ Grade)-Last year, The Cornell Basketball Blog was fairly critical of Kreefer's play. However, Kreefer has cut-down his three pointer attempts (only 2 this season) and has focused more on scoring inside the paint. The result? Artwork. Kreefer is 17/20 from the floor for 85% shooting, on route to 10.0 points per game and 3.0 assists per game from a point forward position. His selective perimeter shooting has also resulted in a 2/2 performance from downtown. On the downside, he is a dreadful 4/11 from the free throw line and is only averaging 1.3 rebounds in his 18+ minutes per game. Kreefer has been a life savor in situations where Alex Tyler goes to the bench in foul trouble.
- Andre Wilkins 6'5" Sophomore (B Grade)-Wilkins fills his role perfectly. He is a bundle of energy and excitement off the bench and a stalwart defender. He is chipping in 4.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, while shooting 8/17 from the floor and 6/8 at the line. His shooting percentage would increase if he looked to go above the rim more rather than shooting his fade away jumpers.
- Jason Battle 6'4" Junior (B- Grade)-Battle's stats are not important. His role is to play lock down defense and he is used when Cornell opts to go with full court pressure. In that regard, he has done a terrific job closing passing lanes and deflecting passes. He is averaging 1.6 rebounds in under 10 minutes per game, while shooting 3/8 from the floor. However, when he is on the floor, Cornell gives up some offense.
- Geoff Reeves 6'5" Sophomore (B- Grade)-Reeves is only playing just over 7 minutes per game due to a crowded perimeter of talented guards and small forwards. However, he will be utilized in future situations where Cornell's starting offense stalls out, a scenario which has not yet presented itself. His time will come. Nevertheless, when on the floor in his limited time, Reeves has been a reliable shooter. He is 4/8 from the floor and 2/3 downtown. He needs to chip in more on the defensive boards and is often caught floating off in the distance when Cornell is playing defense.
- Pete Reynolds, Conor Mullen, Jon Jaques, Aaron Osgood, Adam Wire, Jeff Foote, Khaliq Gant (No Grades)-Of this group, only Pete Reynolds has entered a game and that was just for 1 minute. Accordingly, we do not have grades for these players. But we are looking forward to seeing them hit the floor in the future.