Friday, November 12, 2010

Brian Delaney's Pre-Game

I'm a couple hours away from departing for Albany, the beginning of a busy weekend that will take me through Cortland for the Cortaca Jug on Saturday, then down to the great state of New Jersey on Sunday for Cornell vs. Seton Hall. It's certainly a weekend that's been circled on my calendar for months.

I'm no different than anyone else - I'm fascinated to see how this Cornell team fares under a new coaching staff and with players stepping into bigger roles, guys who I've tried to evaluate as much as possible over the past couple of seasons. So here are a few things I'm thinking about in the lead-up to tonight's game:

  • I'm not expecting Chris Wroblewski to play. He didn't practice Tuesday, when I was last up at Newman Arena, which tells me they'll probably go the caution route and not play him either game this weekend. It makes sense. Heal that ankle up and get it full strength before returning. His health is the singular most important storyline for Cornell this season, in my opinion.
  • I've made an effort to get to more practices this preseason than ever before. There's a lot of different players to watch, and the coaching staff has mixed and match parts throughout the last few weeks. That said, here's my best guess at who will start tonight, under the assumption Wroblewski sits: Miles Asafo-Adjei, Max Groebe, Errick Peck, Adam Wire and Aaron Osgood.

    Osgood getting the nod can be considered a surprise, given Mark Coury's role with last season's team. But Osgood has the best offensive repertoire of the team's bigs, and with Wroblewski sitting Cornell has to have additional offense in the lineup. Osgood has to prove he can rebound and defend consistently, because Albany will throw a rotation of meaty 6-9, 6-10 guys at Cornell tonight.
  • Off the bench, I still think Courtney could go as deep as 12. First guys off should be Andrew Ferry and Coury, with Anthony Gatlin, Josh Figini and Dwight Tarwater in the mix at forward, and Jake Matthews as a fourth guard. On the bubble would be Manny Sahota. That would mean the last third of the bench is Eitan Chemerinski, Johnathan Gray, Peter McMillan and injured Dominic Scelfo.
  • How does Cornell do when Courtney has to take MA-A out of the game? Miles can not play 40 minutes in my estimation; he's dealing with occasional flare-ups from achilles tendonitis. When he's out, I think it becomes a little bit of a ball-handling by committee approach. Ferry and Matthews are the next best ball-handlers, and Courtney may need Peck, Groebe and Wire to help out. It's not an ideal situation, but with Wroblewski ailing for the time being, it's a glaring question.
  • How much will Wire's game evolve this year? The last two seasons, he's been an energy guy on defense specializing in rebounding, steals and backdoor cuts. Assuming he plays 25 to 30 minutes, how much more can he be? Can he score 8-12 points and put up a line of 8-10 boards, 3-5 assists and 2-3 steals? If so, that's a good thing for Cornell. Keep an eye on Wire's turnover totals.
  • A considerable part of my reasoning for choosing Cornell to finish second in the league this year was I believe Errick Peck will mature into one of the Ivy League's top 10 players. I'm certain there will be growing pains along the way, but I've seen too many positives out of him to think he can't make that kind of jump this year. I also believe Courtney is the perfect guy to maximize Peck's potential. They relate well in a lot of ways. I think he's more apt to have the occasional 3-for-18 clunker, but I love his passing ability and his intelligence on the fly. I'm not a huge comparisons guy, but I can't shake Alex Barnett from my mind on this one.
  • How does Cornell rebound tonight? If the Red are going to push transition and get the most out of MA-A, defensive rebounding is where it begins. Limiting second-chance points will be something Courtney hammers away at all season long.
  • I mentioned I like Peck as a top-10 guy in the Ivy this year. Just for fun, here's who else is on my preseason top-10 watch list: Zack Rosen, Penn; Chris Wroblewski, Cornell; Noruwa Agho, Columbia; Kareem Maddox, Princeton; Doug Davis, Princeton; Dan Mavraides, Princeton; Jack Eggleston, Penn; Kyle Casey, Harvard; Brandyn Curry, Harvard. This is primarily why I think there's a fairly good-sized gap between the top four teams and bottom four teams.
  • Prediction: If Princeton wins the title this year, Kareem Maddox will be a first team selection. He's the obvious frontrunner for defensive player of the year. He gives the Tigers a guy tailor-made to defend everyone from Casey to Peck to even Rosen or Tyler Bernardini. If you recall, he gave Ryan Wittman fits last year.
Alright, that feels like enough random thoughts to get down on digital paper for one day. After tonight's 3-hour ride home is complete, I'll post an analytical reaction to the Big Red's showing. (Will also update in-game on twitter).

... One last thing: I'm toying with the idea of hosting weekly chats on college basketball in that Cover It Live forum that so many outlets use these days. If there's an interest out there, let me know and we'll jump in the fray. I think Thursdays around the noon hour would be a time to aim for, but I'm flexible. Cheers.


Anonymous said...

MAA injured as well? sigh...

Anonymous said...

Delaney, a weekly, coveritlive chat would be great

Anonymous said...

Yup, I think a weekly chat would be a lot of fun, too.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Love that SlopeTV is planning to go weekly as well. I hope their grades aren't suffering for our benefit!