By Dan Froats
Although the team has changed since the graduation of last year’s historic senior class, Newman Nation — the Red’s faithful home supporters — has not. Cornell (1-1, 0-0 Ivy) will look to the fans clad in red and white to help establish a firm home-court advantage throughout the season, beginning with tonight’s game against the Blue Hens (0-1, 0-0 Colonial).
“I can't say enough about the support we've enjoyed over the last couple years. The fans have been great, and it makes Newman one of the best places to play in the country, and one of the tougher ones for opponents,” said junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski. “I love coming back home and playing here in front of our fans, and we're going to do everything we can to protect our home court. It helps a lot to have that sixth man in the stands on our side.”
When all is said and done, though, it will be the Red’s performance on the court that determines its fate this winter. Wroblewski figures to play a key role in that performance, but his status for tonight’s showdown is still uncertain as he continues to recover from a sprained ankle.
“The ankle is doing much better. The recovery is a gradual process, but I worked out for the first time [Monday] with no pain, and woke up [Tuesday] with little soreness, which is promising,” Wroblewski said.
Whether Wroblewski plays or not, Cornell will have its hands full with the Blue Hens’ talented pair of starting guards.
“They’re a tough matchup for us,” said head coach Bill Courtney, who will be making his home debut as Cornell’s newest sideline addition. “They have two of the quickest ... and most explosive scoring guards we are going to see this year.”
Senior Jawan Carter headlines the pair of guards. In 2009-10, Carter averaged over 18 points and was named to the All-CAA second team. His partner in crime this season, Devon Sadler, stole the show in the Blue Hens’ most recent game. The freshman filled the box score with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds in a 88-69 loss to Ohio on Saturday.
Carter’s and Sadler’s ability to score from all over the court will be yet another test for Courtney’s aggressive defensive scheme. The coach is hoping that the defense fares better than it did on Sunday against Seton Hall, when it allowed 92 points on the road.
“I think more than anything we’re going to try to make sure we get better defensively,” Courtney said. “We’ve struggled so far compared to how we do in practice, so I want to continue to get better defensively.”
In order to do so, the Red will need to stop the Delaware transition game.
“They love to push it in transition, so we’re going to have to really work on getting back and containing them,” said senior forward and tri-captain Aaron Osgood. “We also need to be willing to attack them. ... They’re going to push and we’re going to push so it should be a high-paced game.”
While defense is clearly the focus, the offense will also be looking to rebound heading into tonight’s contest. A year removed from leading the nation in 3-point shooting percentage, the Red has hit just 28.8 percent of its 52 long-range attempts this season.
Carrying the bulk of the load offensively thus far has been Osgood. In 2009-10 Osgood was lost in the shadow of big-man Jeff Foote, but this year the senior has emerged as a legitimate scoring threat, averaging 16.5 points per game.
“A big reason my scoring has been as good as it has is the guards’ ability to drive and dish. I’ve pretty much been finishing. As a big guy that’s what I need to do,” Osgood said. “I always felt that I had a good offensive game. It’s nice that Coach Courtney is giving me the opportunity to show that I can do that ... I worked real hard in the offseason to get better and I think it’s really showed.”
In addition to Osgood’s output, Cornell has received a balanced scoring effort from several other players. The team features four players averaging over seven points per game, with sophomore guard Jonathan Gray (9 points per game) and senior guard Max Groebe (7.5 points per game) leading the group.
The return of Wroblewski should help the team’s scoring efforts even further. He averaged close to 9 points per game and dished out 106 assists a year ago
“Chris is one of the best pick and roll guys that I’ve ever played with and I think off of that there is going to be a bunch of opportunities not only for myself but for the shooters,” Osgood said. “He’s going to be drawing the defense and kicking the ball out to the open shooters.”
Courtney also expects the junior guard’s return to have a positive impact on the team.
“It will be huge,” Courtney said. “He’s a leader both offensively and defensively. He provides a sense of calm to our team and he’s one of our better shooters.”
Whether Wroblewski is in tonight’s lineup or not is still uncertain, but one thing that is certain is that Cornell needs to perform well in its next two home games. After the two-game home stand — which begins tonight against Delaware and concludes Friday evening against St. Bonaventure — the Red will embark on a five-game road trip that will see it visit national powerhouses such as Syracuse and the University of Minnesota.
“No matter who you play on the road and how well you play, it is possible to lose each and every road game,” Courtney said. “It’s very difficult to win the road games so we have to take advantage of being home.”
By Jasmine Marcus ('10)
Let’s face it: if you’re an undergrad, a stellar men’s basketball team is all you’ve ever known, and why should this year be any different? While the coaches may have changed and there are some new players in the mix, Newman Nation can be more powerful than ever. Last year said it all, Cornell is a basketball school, and as such, it has to have a crazy and devoted crowd.
Today, Cornell hosts Delaware for the season home-opener, and the team will also be raising the Sweet 16 banner earned last year. It’s an historic event and you don’t want to miss it, so here’s my guide to being a good citizen of Newman Nation developed over my three years of fandom before I graduated last year (in the interest of full disclosure, I have to note that I’m dating a former player, but I was a fan for two years before we ever met):
1. Jump/stay on the bandwagon. At big sports schools, alumni can visit year after year and expect to hear the same songs and chants at games. While this has never been true of Cornell basketball, I’d like to hope that if I come to a game later in the year or next year, I can find the same atmosphere that makes home games at Cornell so special.
2. Get loud. Newman Arena may be small, but with 4,473 screaming fans it can also be loud and intimidating to the other team. (Not to mention that you’re pretty much guaranteed a great seat). Learn the chants and traditions that turn a few thousand random Cornellians into one. It may be corny, but yelling “We’re gonna beat the heck outta you! Rough ‘em up, rough ‘em, go C.U.!” (or a slightly more vulgar version) gave me a sense of Cornell spirit that is hard to come by during prelim season when campus is overrun with snow.
3. Learn the players. After four years of growling “Louuuuuu” or yelling “Foote! Foote! Foote!” it is time to come up with some new chants. Junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski’s nickname Ski is fun to shout, as is “Take it to the Max!” when senior guard Max Groebe drills a 3. At a game last year at Harvard, students passed out a sheet with the players’ info on it. While that may be a little dorky (especially when accompanied by blown-up head shots of Jeremy Lin), the fact that the crowd was all on the same page made for a very rowdy game.
4. Learn the competition. Depending on which poll you look at, Harvard, Penn and Princeton are supposed to be top Ivy teams this year. At Cornell, this should translate into extra loud and peppy games. Cornellians are traditionally proud of not going to Harvard. Prove it.
5. Travel. Never found a reason to visit your friend at Dartmouth? How about heading up to New Hampshire in time to see your school kick your friend’s school’s butt? Cornell has games at Binghamton and Syracuse in the next few weeks, as well as one at Columbia to kick-off Ivy play during Winter Break. If hundreds of Kentucky fans could make the schlep up to the Carrier Dome last March, you can drive an hour to support Cornell. Just leave out the “Safety School” chant — the numbers are not in your favor out there.
6. Duck Fuke. That’s right, when it comes to the ACC, you’re a Boston College fan now. Coaches Steve Donahue, Nat Graham and Woody Campman did great things for Cornell, and even though they are in Boston now, they are still part of Cornell. Same goes for Coaches Zach Spiker and Kevin App at [Army].
7. Be proud. Wrestling and women’s hockey were ranked No. 1 in preseason polls. Men’s hockey and lacrosse are national powerhouses. While the men’s basketball team may not have gotten the same preseason buzz, they’re still going to have a great season. You already know you go to a sports school, so now it’s time to act like it. Go Big Red!