Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ithaca Journal Saturday Notes

By Brian Delaney
Ithaca Journal
December 4, 2010


Six Ivy men's teams play Saturday, including Cornell at No. 15 Minnesota. The other games:
Army vs. Penn at Meadowlands, N.J., Noon
Harvard at Michigan, 1 p.m.
Yale at Vermont, 1 p.m.
Brown at Maine, 2 p.m.
Stony Brook at Columbia, 4 p.m.

Specific interest in three of those games. How does Harvard fare against a Michigan team that's considerably better defensively, and all-around, then Colorado and Fordham? Can Yale get a road win against a 5-1 Vermont team that appears, along with Boston Univ., poised to make a real run at the America East title? Finally, what can Stony Brook do at Columbia knowing that in just a few short weeks, the Seawolves will trek to Ithaca?

Ok, let's run down a few Cornell-related notes.

- Yes, rebounding is a key issue at the moment for the Big Red. It is not going to be solved tonight at Minnesota. It can be addressed, however, during the stretch of non-conference games that awaits after a two-week break for finals. Let's take a look at what's ahead, as of Dec. 2 midday:

Binghamton (1-5): Opened with 62-60 win over Colgate, and has lost five straight games since. … Poor offensive team (47.7 ppg, .342 FG %) … Will play Cornell off 7-day break. … Losses to Bucknell (66-38), St. Bonaventure (69-44), Army (72-58), Drexel (79-39) and Canisius (55-45).

Bucknell (3-6): Wins over Binghamton (66-38), Presbyterian (71-47) and Columbia (73-68). … Losses to Villanova (68-52), Marquette (72-61), St. Francis PA (68-67), Princeton (66-55), James Madison (85-75) and Wagner (77-73). … Leading scorers are 6-10 sophomore Mike Muscala (13.7 ppg) and senior guard GW Boon (11.3 ppg) … Most of last year’s team, which took Cornell to overtime, returns.

New Hampshire (3-2): Wins over Dartmouth (55-53), Holy Cross (55-52), and Brown (70-66). … Losses to Sacred Heart (50-42) and No. 9 Connecticut (62-55). … Will play Cornell in opening-round game of VCU Tournament in Richmond, Va. … Leading scorers are 6-2 guard Tyrone Conley (14.0 ppg), 6-6 sophomore Ferg Myrick (13.0 ppg) and 6-9 center Dane Diliegro (12.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg).

VCU (4-2): Wins over North Carolina Greensboro (101-86), Winthrop (67-54), Wake Forest (90-69) and UCLA (89-85). … Losses to No. 24 Tennessee (77-72) and South Florida (60-59). … Terrific balance offensively, behind leading scorers Brandon Rozzell (16.0 ppg, .457 3FG), a 6-2 senior guard; Jamie Skeen (15.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg), a 6-9, 240-pound senior; Bradford Burgess (15.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg), a 6-5 junior guard; and Joey Rodriguez (14.8 ppg, 7.6 apg, .472 3FG), a 5-10 senior guard.


Wofford (2-5): Wins over USC Upstate (79-61) and George Mason (82-79). … Losses to Minnesota (69-55), Clemson (78-70), No. 21 Georgetown (74-59), Air Force (72-66) and Xavier (94-90, OT). … NCAA tournament team in 09-10 that lost to Wisconsin in the first round. … led by 6-6 senior forward Noah Dahlman (17.9 ppg).

Buffalo (4-2): Wins over Navy (88-46), Towson (87-76), Canisius (81-64) and Army (56-54). … Losses to Youngstown State (64-53) and Indiana State (58-54). … Leading scorers are Zach Filzen, a 6-3 junior guard (14.8 ppg, .383 3FG) and Byron Mulkey, a 6-0 senior guard (13.2 ppg).

Stony Brook (3-3): Wins over Mount Ida (80-43), Monmouth (51-49) and Fairleigh Dickinson (66-59). … Losses to Connecticut (79-52), Wagner (58-54) and Lehigh (79-76 OT). … Fifth and final America East opponent on Cornell’s schedule. … Junior guard Bryan Dougher (6-1, 185) averages 17.8 ppg.

This sequence of games will go a long way to establishing whether this Cornell roster is a contender or a middle-of-the-pack Ivy team. VCU and Wofford are the best of the bunch here, but Cornell plays one and not the other on Day 2 of the VCU Tournament in late December. Home games are Bucknell, Buffalo and Stony Brook. Binghamton (1-5) is a must-win. The Bearcats are not good.

  • If Cornell loses today, that makes it five straight losses. The last time that happened was the end of the 2003-04 season, when the Big Red finished the year with five straight defeats.
  • Cornell leads the Ivy League at this juncture in turnover margin, even with that horrendous 21-turnover outing at Lehigh. Cornell is averaging 13.9 per game, and forcing 15.7 for a +1.86. Cornell also leads the league in steals per game at 7.6.
  • Cornell is tied for last in the league with Dartmouth on defensive rebounding percentage (.631), and dead last in rebounding margin (-10.0). CU has yet to outrebound an opponent in seven games.
  • Cornell's team field goal percentage is .374, last in the Ivy League. Six teams are shooting above the .400 mark.
  • In his last four games, Drew Ferry has shot .448 from the arc (13 for 29), committed just two turnovers and recorded six steals.
  • In his last three games, Max Groebe is 2-for-17 from 3-point range. In his last two games, Chris Wroblewski is 1-for-11 from 3-point range.
  • Miles Asafo-Adjei's minutes have dipped the last three games, and offense is a big reason why. The sophomore is shooting .150 from the floor on the season (3 for 20), and .154 from the arc (.154). In seven games, he has eight assists and nine turnovers.
Here's a few leftover Bill Courtney quotes from the Cornell-Minnesota advance work:

On Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe, a 6-8 240-pound forward:
"Mbakwe is really so strong, powerful and athletic. He gets so much around the rim, offensive rebounds, driving the ball, catching and finishing, he's a very tough guy to try and deal with. Everybody's having a tough time dealing with him."

On Cornell's Anthony Gatlin
"He's going to have to figure (his role) out in practice. We'll have a lot of practice time after this game, and we'll have some different type of games following the finals break, and so we'll figured out where we are as a team and try to continue to work toward that. That's the biggest thing for us, find out who we are as a team and see where we can grow and how we can get better."

What can Gatlin do to improve and get more PT?

"Definitely rebounding. That's a big point for what he and I talk about a lot. That's an area where he has to make sure he does his job."

How will this team get better at scoring from inside the three-point arc?

"I hope we get some in transition. Get some layups and jump shots in transition. I hope our offense can create some off-screen action. I'm hoping Errick (Peck) can come back and give us a post presence. I think Mark (Coury) is doing as good a job as he can down there for us. Hopefully now Errick's starting to get on track a little bit and he's our best hope to be a driver. He's a guy that can take it to the rim so I'm hoping he can provide that for us too."

I should be able to update through tonight's game on twitter, off watching the televised broadcast. If not, I'll tweet that I won't be able to. Remember, game time is 8 p.m. EDT. If you have DirecTV, you likely can watch on the Big Ten Network.

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