By Brian Delaney
November 16, 2010
If Cornell's first two games under Bill Courtney said anything, the competition for playing time remains wide open heading into Week 2 of college basketball's regular season.
The first-year coach played a variety of different lineups over the course of 80 minutes this past weekend. Cornell beat Albany 65-61 on Friday, then lost 92-68 to Seton Hall on Sunday.
Certain moves were necessitated by injuries (Chris Wroblewski), foul trouble (Errick Peck both nights, Miles Asafo-Adjei on Friday) or matchups. But it was apparent others were byproducts of inconsistent play.
"I thought I was beginning to have a little bit of a sense for the rotation," said Courtney, thinking that got turned on its head after he played 13 guys Sunday, and 11 Friday. "We've got to see more hunger from certain guys."
Cornell returns to the comfortable confines of Newman Arena for two games this week: Delaware (0-1) on Wednesday, and St. Bonaventure (1-1) on Friday. Both are 7 p.m. starts.
Whether Wroblewski returns from an ankle sprain or not, expect more mixing and matching from Courtney.
Sophomore forward Josh Figini, as an example, didn't play in Friday's game but saw 13 minutes against Seton Hall. They were largely productive minutes, too. Nine of those came in the first half, when he had five rebounds and a block.
Likewise, freshman guard Jake Matthews didn't play Friday night, only to see 22 minutes against the Pirates. He, like Figini, appeared to make a good impression. He didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but he was active on defense and finished with three points, four assists and zero turnovers.
Juniors Max Groebe and Andrew Ferry were key contributors in the Albany win, scoring 15 and 12 points, respectively. Against Seton Hall, they were non-factors. Groebe was held scoreless.
From an offensive standpoint, Cornell's guards endured a difficult day as a unit on Sunday. Combined, Groebe, Ferry, Asafo-Adjei, Matthews and Johnathan Gray shot 4-for-27 from the field.
Only Gray managed to get to the free throw line.
"You have to understand that with this young group, when we miss shots, we don't play well offensively," Courtney said. "We tend to hang our heads, and that effects us at the defensive end."
Courtney is clearly impressed with Gray, who spent time as a student manager on last season's team before being promoted to the roster. He played mop-up minutes in four games.
Against Albany, he played 19 big minutes, scoring 12 points and serving as a third point guard, and was first off the bench Sunday when Peck picked up his second foul in the fourth minute. At the time, Gray's responsibility was guarding preseason first-team all-Big East selection Jeremy Hazell.
* Cornell senior Aaron Osgood rightfully felt good about his first two starts as a college basketball player. He reached double figures both nights and shot an efficient 11 for 14 from the floor. He also, without prodding after Sunday's game, said immediately what his coaches probably wanted to hear.
"Personally, I've got to work on my rebounding," he said. "They got too many offensive rebounds. I'm one of the bigger guys on the court; I've got to be in there."
Seton Hall held a 46-29 edge on the glass, with 16 offensive rebounds. Osgood had three rebounds in 26 minutes, only one defensive.
* Yale's Sports Publicity department announced that senior captain, and 6-foot-7 forward, Michael Sands has left the school for personal reasons and will not play for the Bulldogs.
That's a blow for coach James Jones. In the preseason, he said he felt Sands was one of the league's four best returning big players. Sands started all 31 games as a junior and averaged 10.8 points and 6.1 rebounds. Yale may have to rely on talented 6-9 freshman Jeremiah Kreisberg for additional production.
The Bulldogs, by the way, will see Steve Donahue's Boston College Eagles on Thursday night.
* Great first impression from Harvard's Keith Wright. The 6-8 junior, one of the Ivy League's true natural power forwards, had 22 points and 16 rebounds in the Crimson's 66-53 loss Saturday at George Mason.
Wright tweeted in the offseason he planned on leading the league in rebounding. Not a bad start to backing up his prediction.
* Penn rang in a new era with a quality 69-64 home win over what I think will be a tough Davidson team. Point guard Zack Rosen picked up his second foul before the first media time out and sat out the rest of the half. Last year, the Quakers would have been lost without him.
But freshman Miles Cartwright entered the game and scored 18 points while Rosen sat. Rosen then returned in the second half to score 13 of his 16 in the win. Last year, Davidson beat Penn by 29 points in what was coach Jerome Allen's first game after taking over for the fired Glen Miller.