- Columbia team report-"Cornell hadn’t lost at home in 22 games against Ivy League opponents prior to the Lions’ 70-66 victory on Jan. 22. T... Both Columbia and Cornell are young teams, but this season the Lions have been much better in tight games. That’s why the Lions were in contention and the Big Red had a lot of ground to make up already...olumbia earned a sweep of Cornell with the 70-66 victory on Jan. 22. The last time the Lions won both of its games against the Big Red came in the 2001-02 campaign."
- Harvard team report-"Heading into this weekend’s home dates with Columbia and Cornell, the competition gets a lot tougher. The Lions are also 2-0 in the Ivy League, and the Big Red are the three-time defending champs in desperate straits with an 0-2 record."
- Princeton team report-"Yale has emerged as a surprise contender and will be looking to make a statement on Jan. 29 in Jadwin Gym. It’s an early game to watch in an Ivy League title race that is more wide open than ever following what looks to be the end of Cornell’s three-year run of dominance."
January 25, 2011
All you need to know about the Big Red’s season is that it was 1-8 in games decided by five points or fewer through Jan. 23, and 0-2 in Ivy League play.
Blame it on youth, perhaps, since Cornell did lose most of its key players and its coach from the Sweet 16 squad of a year ago. But travel partner Columbia is also young and also has a first-year coach, and it knocked off the Big Red despite trailing most of the way because it came up with the necessary big plays down the stretch.
The Jan. 22 game was tied with less than two minutes to go, a situation in which previous Cornell teams have excelled. This time, it was the Lions who got the key basket, the blocked shot, the free throws and the defensive stop to earn the impressive victory on the road.
Columbia coach Kyle Smith credited his team’s experience in winning close games with generating the confidence needed to prevail in this one. That may be true, but it’s also not very helpful. If the way to get confidence is to win games, it isn’t much help in figuring out how to stop losing them.
This marks the first time in four years that Cornell enters the first full weekend of Ivy League play looking simply to stay alive in the league race, rather than further extending its lead. That is new and uncomfortable ground for the Big Red, and to get back into the mix it will have to figure out a strategy that will turn those close losses into wins. Otherwise, this will be a team that competes every night but ends its three-year reign atop the conference with a whimper.
• Injured freshman Dominick Scelfo and Dwight Tarwater will sit out the season as medical redshirts and have four years of eligibility remaining. Scelfo has been out with a knee injury, while Tarwater has been suffering from mono.
• Previous Cornell squads have made their living at the 3-point arc, but the long shot let Cornell down against Columbia. The Big Red went just 3-for-16 from beyond the arc in the Jan. 22 loss.
By The Numbers: 22—Consecutive Ivy League home wins for the Big Red prior to Jan. 22. Columbia became the first conference team to win at Ithaca in three years.
Quote To Note: “We have to find a way to get that crucial stop or crucial rebound. We’ve been in every game we’ve played besides against Syracuse practically, but we just have to learn to finish.”—Senior F Aaron Osgood, to the Cornell Daily Sun.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
This Week's Games
• at Dartmouth, Jan. 28
Key Matchups: Cornell faces one of the least talented teams in the Ivy League, but at 0-2, the Big Red can’t afford to take any opponent lightly. Dartmouth is one of the worst shooting teams in college basketball, but it defends well. Either the Big Red will have to shoot the ball better from the outside than it did against Columbia, or it must get the ball into the paint more often.
• at Harvard, Jan. 29
Key Matchups: Harvard looked like world-beaters in its nonconference schedule, but it struggled to beat Dartmouth at home a week ago. That provides a ray of hope, but the Big Red will need to show the swagger it displayed a year ago to win this one, rather than fading meekly down the stretch as it had thus far in 2010-11.
• Senior F Aaron Osgood broke out of a slump with 16 points and six rebounds in the loss to Columbia. He had scored 13 points in his previous three games combined.
• Junior G Drew Ferry had a big game when the Big Red played Columbia on the road, leading the team with 23 points. He found the Lions’ defense much tougher in the rematch, and he was limited to five points in the home loss.