Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cornell Controls "The Bing"

Men's Hoops Holds Off Binghamton, 73-68
Box Score (PDF)

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The Cornell men's basketball team got 17 points from Louis Dale and 16 from Collin Robinson to help the Big Red defeat Binghamton 73-68 on Tuesday evening at Newman Arena. Cornell shot 56 percent from the floor in improving to 4-1, while the Bearcats slipped to 1-5.

Robinson matched his career-high with his 16 points and added three rebounds and two steals, while Dale made 6-of-10 shots from the floor and also posted two steals and three assists. Sophomore Ryan Wittman also hit for double figures, adding 13 points and eight rebounds. Junior Brian Kreefer had seven points and three assists, with Alex Tyler posting six points and seven rebounds in just 16 minutes of action.

Devon McBride scored a game-high 20 points off the bench for the Bearcats to lead four players in double figures. Lazar Trifunovic notched 16 points and Moussa Camara had 12 points. Brandon Herbert rounded out the double figure scorers with 10 points, with Reggie Fuller notching six blocked shots, five steals and three assists in 34 minutes.

Binghamton ran out to a 9-0 lead, but once the Big Red caught up at 15-15, the home team never trailed again. Cornell shot 67 percent in the first half and ended the game 5-of-9 from 3-point range. The Big Red outrebounded Binghamton 28-22, but turned the ball over 19 times.

Binghamton opened the game with nine consecutive points, but it was the Big Red scoring the final 11 of the first half to go into the break with a sizable 13-point bulge (43-30).

The Bearcats launched out to a 9-0 lead just two minutes into the contest behind six quick points by Trifunovic and two Big Red turnovers. Hartford's turnaround jumper finally gotr Cornell on the boar with 17:45 left in the half, but Trifunovic hit for his eighth point to make it 11-2 on the next trip. Thje Big Red went on a 7-0 run, punctuated by a Dale 3-pointer and a steal and dunk by the sophomore, the first of his career, to make it 11-9 four minutes in. Cornell tied the game at 15-15 at the first media timeout when a floated by Dale was grabbed in the air by Reggie Fuller for a goaltending.

Robinson gave Cornell its first lead of the game at 17-15 on a fallaway jumper outside the lane, but the Bearcats tied it up on a McBride follow after an offensive rebound 20 seconds later. After Robinson hit another runner and then a 3-pointer from the right corner to put the home team up five (22-17).

The Bearcats wouldn't let the home team extend the lead any further, scoring the next five points to tie the game at 22-22 on a McBride free throw with 7:14 before halftime. Wittman's first trey of the game made it 25-22, and a Dale assist to Kreefer beyond the arc followed as the Big Red started to get open looks from outside. Gore came around a screen and was fouled attempting a 3-pointer, making all three of his charity tosses to make it 35-30 with 3:26 remaining in the half. The lead grew to 43-30 at halftime as the Big Red went to the locker room having hit on 67 percent of its field goals (16-of-24). Dale led the way with 11 points, while Robinson added nine.

Cornell quickly opened up a 16-point lead with a Wittman 3-pointer after the break, but the Bearcats brought it back to 10 within two minutesat 46-36. A Camara 3-pointer for Binghamton cut the deficit to nine (48-39), but WIlkins got two of the points right back to push the lead back to double figures. A quick-strike break after a Robinson steal led to a layup by Kreefer and forced a BU timeout with 13:42 remaining in regulation.

The Bearcats wouldn't let the home team pull away, cutting the deficit to eight two times, the last at 64-56 with just over four minutes to play, but a steal by Kreefer and a look-ahead pass to Robinson resulted in a three-point play, pushing the edge back to 67-56. The visitors chipped away at the lead, but didn't cut it below seven until the final five seconds, as a 3-pointer and a layup at the buzzer made for the final margin.

Cornell closes out its four-game homestand on Saturday when it hosts Colgate at 8 p.m. at Newman Arena. The Big Red will be looking for its third straight win in the series, with the game following the consolation and championship games of the Cornell women's basketball Big Red Invitational. Those games tip off at 3 and 5 p.m. Cornell plays Friday evening at 7 p.m. against Gardner Webb, and depending on the result, will face either Bowling Green or Florida Gulf Coast.

CU men's basketball: Big Red stays unbeaten at home

By Brian Delaney
The Ithaca Journal
November 28, 2007
Cornell-Binghamton Photo Gallery

ITHACA — Despite sporadic spurts of frustrating inconsistency, Cornell again rode superior backcourt play to a victory on its home court.

Guards Louis Dale and Collin Robinson combined for 33 points, and the Big Red improved to 4-0 at Newman Arena with a comfortable, although stagnant, 73-68 victory.

Cornell (4-1) took control late in the first half with an 11-0 run and largely maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way. The closest Binghamton got in the second half was the final margin, which came only after a Richard Forbes layup at the buzzer.

Still, eighth-year coach Steve Donahue wasn't pleased with his team's performance.

“I'm disappointed with our execution on the offensive end of games down the stretch,” Donahue said. “We haven't done a good job of that.”

The last 12 minutes, 38 seconds of Tuesday's second half were up-and-down, filled with turnovers and a dearth of quality possessions. The Bearcats (1-5) continually ping-ponged into a 54-39 deficit, never allowing Cornell to put the game away.

Rarely, if ever, has a Donahue-coached team been able to build and hold a sizable lead despite stretches of inconsistent play. But that's what happened.

“It does (feel good) a little bit, but at the same time that's going to hurt us against better teams,” said Robinson, who finished with 16 points. “If we come out like that against a Syracuse later, that will come back to bite us.”

Binghamton reeled off the game's first nine points, but Dale breathed life into his teammates with a steal and emphatic left-handed dunk in transition. From there, Cornell picked up the pace, ripping off 11 straight points to end the half — a stretch that did not result directly from the silky-smooth offensive execution the Red displayed in Sunday's thrilling win over Siena.

“We went to the 1-3-1 on that one stretch, and (Binghamton) just struggled for that stretch,” Donahue said. “And I thought we did a good job with that group we had out there. That was the best ball we played all night.”

Adam Gore hit five free throws, Robinson knocked down two and Dale — a 5-foot-11 pogo stick who scored 17 points — went hard and high to the rim for a soaring layup that helped turn a 32-30 lead into a comfortable 43-30 advantage at the break.

Aside from that 3:46 spurt, a short-handed and underclassmen-dependent Binghamton squad (1-5) essentially played Cornell even, despite the Big Red's 56.3 percent marksmanship from the field.

“The freshmen-sophomore group, if they keep stepping up like they did tonight ... we're going to get better,” first-year Bearcats coach Kevin Broadus said.

Freshman Devon McBride netted a game-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Classmate Brandon Herbert came off the bench to score 10 points, and sophomore forward Lazar Trifunovic chipped in 16 — though he scored only six points over the final 35 minutes. Junior Reggie Fuller had six blocks and five steals.

Ryan Wittman had 13 points and eight boards for Cornell, which hosts Colgate (4-3) Saturday night to close out a four-game homestand.

“We haven't been getting off to good starts,” Donahue said. “Teams come out, and again it's all a part of people talking about your program. They're excited to play you; they come out ready to play, and you don't answer the bell.”

Notes: Only three players scored for Binghamton in the first half. McBride had 13 points, Trifunovic 10 and Moussa Camara seven. The remaining Bearcats were 0-for-7 from the field. ... Cornell had 19 points off eight Binghamton first-half turnovers. ... Gore finished 6-of-7 from the free throw line. He missed a free throw with 4.1 seconds left, snapping his season-opening streak of 16 straight makes. ... The last time Cornell won four straight games at Newman to start the season was 1992-93 under Jan van Breda Kolff.

Through five games, including Tuesday night's 73-68 victory over Binghamton, the Cornell men's basketball team is lighting it up from beyond the 3-point arc. Here's a breakdown of Cornell's perimeter shooting so far this season:

Date Opponent Final score 3-pt shooting (percent)

Nov. 10 Lehigh W, 87-83 10-17 (58.8 %)
Nov. 17 at Ohio L, 102-89 12-28 (42.9 %)
Nov. 20 Army W, 93-78 10-23 (43.5%)
Nov. 24 Siena W, 83-77 11-19 (57.9 %)
Nov. 27 Binghamton W, 73-68 5-9 (55.6%)
Totals: 48-96 (50 %) 2006-07 season (through five games): 38-99 (38.4 %)

BINGHAMTON (1-5) Camara 5-13 0-0 12, Trifunovic 7-9 2-2 16, Fuller 2-2 0-0 4, Gordon 0-4 0-0 0, Forbes 2-9 2-2 6, McBride 8-11 1-3 20, Herbert

3-7 2-2 10, Henry 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Lukusa 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-56 7-9 68.

CORNELL (4-1) Wittman 5-7 1-3 13, Hartford 2-3 0-0 4, Tyler 3-4 0-0 6, Dale 6-10 4-4 17, Gore 0-4 6-7 6, Robinson 6-11 3-3 16, Battle 0-2 0-0 0, Wilkins 2-2 0-0 4, Reeves 0-1 0-0 0, Kreefer 3-4 0-1 7. Totals 27-48 14-18 73.

Halftime—Cornell 43-30. 3-Point Goals—Binghamton 7-24 (McBride 3-4, Herbert 2-4, Camara 2-10, Jackson 0-1, Forbes 0-2, Gordon 0-3), Cornell 5-9 (Wittman 2-2, Robinson 1-1, Kreefer 1-1, Dale 1-2, Gore 0-3). Fouled Out: Herbert. Rebounds: Binghamton 22 (McBride 5), Cornell 28 (Wittman 8). Assists—Binghamton 19 (Gordon 6), Cornell 12 (Dale, Kreefer 3). Total Fouls—Binghamton 20, Cornell 14. A—1,221.

M. B-Ball Sneaks Past Binghamton

By Cory Bennett
The Cornell Daily Sun
November 28, 2007

All alone on a quick transition attack, Binghamton’s Lazar Trifunovic threw down an assertive two-handed dunk. Before the ball even hit the floor, the whistle cut through the cheers from the large visiting crowd. Cornell’s head coach, Steve Donahue, called a timeout. With his squad in a 7-0 hole only 87 seconds into the contest, he stomped out to meet his team trotting off the court.

“I just really got on them a bit,” Donahue said. “I asked them, ‘Why won’t we play our best right off the bat?’ We were just passive and accepting. We weren’t strong with the ball. We made careless plays. I always say, ‘Go out and make plays. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.’ We were afraid to make mistakes early on and that’s when mistakes happen.”

While the Bearcats would stretch their lead to 9-0 on another errant Red pass, Cornell (4-1) turned things around fairly quickly after that, pulling away late in the first half and playing even the rest of the way to earn a 73-68 victory over Binghamton (1-5).

The Red got good bench production from junior Brian Kreefer, who was three-of-four from the field and distributed well from the free throw line. But the squad was led by the backcourt trio of sophomores Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman and junior Collin Robinson. Dale had 17 points, Robinson 16 and Wittman 13. Wittman also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds, the third straight time he has led the squad in rebounding.

“You know, the first two games, I didn’t rebound too well,” Wittman said. “So it’s been what I’ve been concentrating on in practice and the last few games, just being more aggressive going after the ball.”

On defense against the Bearcats, however, the Red was too aggressive at times. Cornell switched between a variety of 2-3 and 1-3-1 zones throughout the game to clog the passing lanes and counter the baseline and backdoor cuts of Binghamton’s Princeton-style offense with four and five guards around the perimeter.

The Red was only effective in stretches, though.

“[The defense played] just OK,” Donahue said. “I thought we rotated well at times but other times they beat us in transition. We were just reaching too much, fouling too much. It just wasn’t one of our better games.”

The efficient stretches were what made the difference in the game for Cornell, though. Leading 32-30, Donahue called a timeout and switched from a 2-3 zone to a 1-3-1. The Bearcats, who had been getting open looks rotating the ball faster than the Red’s zone could shift, couldn’t find any seams in the final 3:46 of the half. They rotated the ball futilely and consistently held it too late in the shot clock, only getting three shots off in the final stretch before the break.

“That was the best ball we played all night was that stretch and that was the difference in the game,” Donahue said.

“I think the most effective thing was just switching up defenses so they didn’t know what was coming,” Wittman said. “They had to dribble the ball up the floor and then read our defense, then set up their offense. So I think that installed a little confusion and we got a lot of deflections out of it.”

Meanwhile, the Red’s offense reeled off 11 straight points to head into the locker room with a 43-30 lead.

That was the only stretch where Cornell’s offense really dominated, however. Binghamton’s guards were playing tight on Cornell’s guards, forcing them to pump fake and go to the hole. Unfortuately, the Red was bothered at times in the lane by the length of the Bearcats’ frontline, particularly Reggie Fuller, who had five steals and all six of his squad's blocks.

“Going into the lane we haven’t really seen that kind of length yet,” Robinson said. “I think that again is a part of decision making. Maybe we could have kicked the ball out instead of them getting a blocked shot. I think that will better itself later.”

“Some of the plays where we usually get to the rim I thought they bothered us more than usual,” Donahue said. “That was more deflecting passes and turnovers more than shots.”

Still, as the pace of the game slowed down, Cornell responded each time Binghamton brought the lead under double digits.

“We were able to come back and match their intensity not only on the defensive end, but on the offensive end as well,” Robinson said.

Until the last several minutes, that is. As has been the trend this season, the Red found a way to turn a long-lasting double-digit lead, into a win separated by only a few possessions.

“Part of that is we haven’t been in that situation a lot over the last couple of years,” Donahue said. “… I’m disappointed in the execution on the offensive end down the stretch of games. We haven’t done a good job of that. We’re going to get better at that.”

And while late turnovers, including a rare five-second violation on Robinson, accounted for the slimmer margin of victory, the Red was able to win with less than its best. Donahue made sure to emphasize that much of this was due to Binghamton’s effort.

“I thought they played well,” Donahue said. “They have some quickness, size and athleticism. And when they’re focused, they play hard and we got a good game from them. I give them credit. [Binghamton head coach Kevin Broadus] is doing a good job with those guys. They came in here ready to go.”

Early run dooms Bearcats

By Brian Moritz
Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin
November 28, 2007

ITHACA -- Kevin Broadus saw plenty of positives from Binghamton University on Tuesday night.

He saw three freshmen score in double figures. He saw junior college transfer Reggie Fuller become a force on the defensive end.

But one two-minute stretch, one pivotal Cornell run, ensured that all those positives came in yet another BU men's basketball loss.

Cornell extended the Bearcats' losing streak to four games with a 73-68 victory in front of 1,221 fans at Newman Arena.

At 1-5, the Bearcats are tied for the worst six-game start to a season in the program's Division I era. The 2005-06 team under Al Walker also began 1-5.

"It's tough, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel," Broadus said. "I know that if we keep working hard, the basketball gods will smile on us. I know one thing about this game -- there's a lot of basketball left (in the season). We were a few plays away today. A few plays away."

The Big Red (4-1), winner of three in a row, blew open the game with an 11-0 run over a two-minute span late in the first half. That turned a two-point, back-and-forth game into a 13-point halftime lead for Cornell.

Unlike their previous road losses, the Bearcats hung tough in the second half. But BU was never able to make a big run and got no closer than eight points until the final seconds.

"That's one positive is that we came back in the second half," said sophomore Lazar Trifunovic, who had 16 points and four rebounds. "In our previous games, we lost it in the second half. This time, we came back."

The story of the game for the Bearcats was the emergence of freshmen Devon McBride, Mousses Camara and Brandon Herbert as offensive threats. McBride scored a game-high 20 points, hitting eight of 11 shots from the field, including three 3-pointers, and grabbing a team-best five rebounds.

Camara scored seven of his 12 points in the first half, and Brandon Herbert added 10 points, all in the second half.

Then there was Fuller, a 6-foot-6 junior college transfer who had six blocks, five steals and gave the Bearcats an athletic presence on defense.

"Those are positives we can come away with from this game, even if it goes in the 'L' column," Broadus said. "We saw who wants to win and who wants to be part of this program."

Their production overcame lackluster offensive games from seniors Richard Forbes and Mike Gordon. Forbes scored six points and had five assists but was 2-for-9 from the field. Gordon, whom Broadus said was playing with back spasms, had six assist and two steals in 33 minutes but didn't score.

"I didn't want to play him, but he insisted on playing," Broadus said. "Thirty percent of Mike Gordon is better than 100 percent of most guys."

The Bearcats started the game strongly. Fuller blocked Alex Tyler's shot on the game's first possession to set the tone, and BU scored the game's first nine points. Trifunovic scored on four consecutive possessions, including a bucket off Forbes' assist to give the Bearcats a 9-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.

But Cornell quickly caught up, and the teams traded the lead. Cornell shot 66.7 percent from the field in the first half.

The Big Red led, 32-30, with 3:26 to go when it scored 11 consecutive points in a span of 2:22. Adam Gore had five of his 16 points in that stretch, and the Big Red took a 43-30 lead into halftime.

"Our defense (keyed the run)," Cornell coach Steve Donahue said. "We went to our 1-3-1 zone, and that worked well for us."

Louis Dale had 17 points for Cornell, and Ryan Wittman added 13.

"I know I'm going to sound like a broken record, but we've just got to keep getting better," Broadus said. "I told our guys, don't be bitter, be better."


Anonymous said...

Nice pic at the top of the story, Blogger. What is the source of that one? What a sight! Louis Dale's elbow at the rim. What a dunk he made--I didn't know he could even do it, so the surprise of the moment was all the more sweet!

Regarding the Binghamton game, instead of "wow, wow, wow," which lead the commentary on the Sienna game, the word here was "turnovers, turnovers, turnovers." We've got to cut down substantially. Some came from attempted spectacular plays that failed, but others were just plain sloppy. It will help when Tyler starts hitting his stride again.

It was good to see Battle wrecking havoc on the defensive end. Don't worry about those missed layups, Jay, just lay it on up there again next time.

Battle is just shy of averaging 10 minutes a game, so you may loose that "over/under" we speculated on a few weeks ago, Blogger. He's doing a good job on defense and made a big difference offensively on defeating the press.

Coach D was quoted as being concerned about the Red in the opening minutes of games (particular painful in the Binghamton game). How about a different lineup? I'd still like to see Hartford, Wilkins, Whittman, Robinson, and Dale start. Then when Gore comes in, maybe he can sneak a few before the defense adjusts to his style. And maybe it would take some pressure off Tyler to be subbing in. Also Wilkins will get most of the jump ball tips.

Speaking of lineups, I called for the "all small" lineup a month ago in comments on this blog. It's always good to be right (though I think I wanted Tyler instead of Hartford, but whatever).

Any word on Hartford's apparent shoulder injury? He came out for the second half heavily wrapped on his left shoulder. I haven't seen any news about that.

Glad to see the Red respond to challenges in the Binghamton game, despite the sloppy play. There were stretches of excellent defense. There were times when we couldn't miss. But last year we might have lost a game like that one, where the opponents kept coming back at us (a W is a W!).

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Not sure if it was shoulder injury to Hartford. He did get wrapped during halftime and did play 4 minutes of the second half with the wrap. Not only did he play, but he grabbed an offensive rebound off his own missed shot and then scored the basket off the rebound. He was taken out of the game exactly 1 minute after he scored.

It did not look like he was suffering any pain. This is a big story to keep an eye on.