Friday, November 12, 2010

Ithaca Journal: Asafo-Adjei to Possibly Get Start

Asafo-Adjei gets the point if Wroblewski sits

By Brian Delaney
Ithaca Journal
November 12, 2010

Cornell has practiced the last two weeks under the notion that junior point guard Chris Wroblewski will not be available for Friday night's season opener at Albany.

Wroblewski continues to rehab from an ankle sprain suffered in an Oct. 30 scrimmage, and is considered a game-time decision. He is itching to get back, but resigned to the fact he may get chained to a seat at the end of the bench. Given the length of the college basketball season, there's no use rushing him back, the reasoning goes.

So if Wroblewski sits out, where does that leave Cornell?

Bill Courtney will turn over the point guard duties to 6-foot-2 sophomore Miles Asafo-Adjei. Wroblewski said the situation reminded him of his freshman year, when Louis Dale missed the first eight games with a hamstring injury and Steve Donahue was forced to thrust the wide-eyed Wroblewski into the lineup by Game 3.

"The thing with Miles is he has a full year under his belt," Wroblewski said Tuesday. "So he's looking more comfortable now. I think this will pay huge dividends for the team down the line. It's a long season, and we're going to need him."

Asafo-Adjei has spent the bulk of the last three weeks running the starting unit, so he's had ample time to acclimate himself with the likes of junior guards Max Groebe and Andrew Ferry, and forward Errick Peck. If he starts, it'll mean Cornell will have an entirely new starting five in Courtney's head coaching debut.

Asafo-Adjei is comfortable with the prospect, saying Courtney and Donahue are very similar in what they want from a point guard.

"No, not much different," he said. "(Courtney) expects the point guard to definitely run a team. Coach Courtney and Coach Donahue both were up-and-down type of coaches. The offense is still similar; we're still trying to get the same amount of transition; we're still trying to get open 3s so it's pretty much the same."

Asafo-Adjei essentially spent his entire offseason working on his perimeter jumper. It's still a work in progress, but he said he feels more confident in his ability to shoot off the pass.

"I have to be able to make that open shot," he said.

Even so, there are higher priorities for the sophomore. He has to take care of the ball, make good decisions in transition, defend and not allow himself to get into foul trouble. Asafo-Adjei is Cornell's best on-the-ball defender, but he plays a physical style that caused one official at the Red-White Scrimmage on Oct. 23 to raise a word of caution to Courtney.

Albany's strength is its backcourt. Sophomore Mike Black was named to the America East all-rookie team last year, classmate Logan Aaronhalt is three years removed from being named Ohio's 2A Player of the Year, and senior Tim Ambrose is a proven scorer.

IF Wroblewski sits, Asafo-Adjei will see plenty of minutes. His job last year was to frustrate and play against, alternately, Wroblewski and Louis Dale. It was essentially a season of steady schooling.

"Just going against those guys every day in practice was better than anything we could have asked for," Asafo-Adjei said. "Going against Lou, (Ryan Wittman and Jeff Foote), those guys are some of the best guys to come through the Ivy League. They pushed us every day."

Now he could get the opportunity to show what he learned. Assistant coach Marlon Sears said since Wroblewski went out, Asafo-Adjei's improvement has been rapid.

"He's done a great job," Sears said. "In the scrimmages we've played, in practice, he's done a tremendous job of running the team and doing all the things coach Courtney has asked of him."

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