Fans and media alike were provided with their first glimpse of the new-look 2010-11 men’s basketball team over the weekend, albeit an incomplete one. Senior forward Aaron Osgood (hip) and sophomore guard Chris Wroblewski both sat out Saturday afternoon’s annual Red/White scrimmage, as did freshman guard Dominick Scelfo (knee) and sophomore forward Peter McMillan (concussion). Wroblewski did not dress for the game after taking an elbow to the face during Friday’s practice.
With the absence of Wroblewski, freshman Jake Matthews and and sophomore Miles Asafo-Adjei took over starting point guard duties for the Red and White teams, respectively. Also starting for the Red squad were senior forward Anthony Gaitlin, junior guard Andrew Ferry, sophomore center Josh Figini and sophomore forward Errick Peck, with senior guard Max Groebe, senior forward Adam Wire, senior center Mark Coury and freshman forward Dwight Tarwater rounding out the White team’s starters.
If Saturday’s scrimmage was any indication, first-year head coach Bill Courtney looks to be running a very high-tempo, fast-paced offense this upcoming season, although he maintained afterwards that defense will remain a priority.
“I wanted them to play hard, that was the biggest thing,” Courtney said when asked what he had expected to glean from the scrimmage. “I would have liked for them to have played a little better defensively, but with the way we played offensively ... [it] was very well. We executed what we wanted to do offensively, so, for a weekend, I was very pleased with what we got out of today.”
Both sides demonstrated a willingness to spread the floor, with several post players venturing beyond the perimeter; Wire connected on 2-of-3 from 3-point range, while Figini and Tarwater also knocked down shots from downtown.
“If it’s a good shot, and it’s in rhythm ... those are the kind of shots we want [them] to take. We want all of our guys to feel confident taking those shots,” Courtney said. “If it’s a good shot, let it go.”
Although there was no official stat sheet available from Saturday’s inter-squad contest, Groebe easily led all scorers with 20+ points. After his first 3-point attempt came up short in the early goings, Groebe did not miss from beyond the arc for the remainder of the contest.
“I’ve been teasing him all week, ‘Max, when are you going to make a shot?’ He said, ‘Don’t worry, Coach, I’ll make it when it matters,’” Courtney said with a laugh. “Hopefully if he can shoot like that, that will bode well for us.”
Both sides went into the halftime period with the White team leading, 34-30, though the score would remain close throughout the next 20 minutes, thanks largely to the continued hot shooting of Groebe and the efforts of Peck.
The only freshman to crack the regular rotation last season, Peck definitely impressed in Saturday’s scrimmage with his heads-up rebounding and willingness to attack the basket.
“I think Errick is establishing the mindset that he needs to have. We want him to attack at all times and be a guy that is very dangerous with the basketball,” Courtney said.
Moving forward, Courtney explained that he doesn’t expect to change a whole lot in practice, but reiterated the emphasis on defense: “We’re going to really work defensively. One of the things that happens is if you play well and you shoot the ball that well, it can kind of mask some of the things you’re doing defensively well. ... I think we did a fair job, I think there’s a lot of ways we can get better ... using our defense to create some more offense for us in transition and looking for layups and open 3’s.”
With time expiring, Ferry threw up a 3 at the buzzer that didn’t go, though even if it had it wouldn’t have mattered, as the contest came to a close with the White team holding on for a 69-65 win.
However, the Red/White scrimmage was never about the final score so much as it was about answering questions surrounding the future of a team that notched Cornell its first-ever Sweet 16 banner in 2009-10. Although many questions still remain, it appears that even with the graduation of Ryan Wittman ’10, Louis Dale ’10, Jon Jaques ’10 and Geoff Reeves ’10, Cornell retains several guys capable of shooting the lights out.
The Red opens its season on Nov. 12 against the University of Albany.