Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sports Network Picks Cornell Over Columbia

Get all the information you need about Cornell's Ivy League opener at Columbia on Saturday with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center. Below, the Sports Network's prediction...

DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 15th, 7:00 p.m. (et).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Levien Gym (2,700) -- Manhattan, New York. Television: Local. Home Record: Cornell 2-3, Columbia 6-1. Away Record: Cornell 1-6, Columbia 3-4. Neutral Record: Cornell 1-1, Columbia 0-0. Conference Record: Cornell 0-0, Columbia 0-0. Series Record: Columbia leads, 118-96.

GAME NOTES: Winners of three straight Ivy League titles, the Cornell Big Red will try to make it four in a row as the team kicks off play versus the Ancient Eight against Columbia tonight at Levien Gym in Manhattan.

Cornell has had a rough start to the 2010-11 campaign with a total of just four wins in 14 opportunities. However, the team is entering the weekend on a positive note after posting a 60-52 win over Stony Brook last Saturday at home. The victory was the second in the last three outings for a team that started off the season with two wins in three tries as well.

As for the Lions, who are a near-perfect 6-1 at home this season, they've rebounded from a tough start (1-3) to record back-to-back wins and victories in six of the last seven games overall. Granted, the competition hasn't been all that fierce, but still a win is a win, even if it is a 64-59 decision against Union last weekend at home.

Even though Cornell won the most recent meeting between these two teams last season (77-51), the Lions still own a considerable advantage in the all-time series at 118-96. In fact, the Big Red has taken nine in a row over Columbia at this stage. The last victory for the Lions was a 58-57 final around this time back in 2006 in Ithaca, New York. The teams will have a quick turnaround and face each other again next weekend on Cornell's home floor.

Chris Wroblewski took control of the game against Stony Brook last week for the Big Red, posting a game-high 29 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, including 4-of-6 beyond the arc, and a 9-of-10 effort at the free-throw line. Fellow guard Drew Ferry chipped in 11 points, even though he shot just 3-of-13 out on the perimeter. The front-line starters for Cornell had a rough time with a combined 3-of-10 shooting performances from the field, generating a total of just 10 points. Wroblewski, who has increased his scoring output the last couple of seasons, is now up to 15.6 ppg for Cornell, even though he is making good on just 38.1 percent of his field goal chances. Ironically, the Illinois native is actually doing better from behind the three-point line (.443) where he is a career 44.7 percent shooter. Ferry, who has scored in double figures in four straight games, contributes another 12.1 ppg to the cause, but still this is a group that is putting up just 65.3 ppg right now.

Running out to a 17-9 advantage in the first half, the Lions should have had an easier time with Union in the final tune-up before the start of the Ivy League slate, but the hosts only won by five points. Shooting 6-of-10 behind the three-point line, Noruwa Agho posted a game-high 24 points for Columbia, adding six rebounds and a couple of steals to his stat line, while Mark Cisco and Brian Barbour tacked on 10 points apiece, the latter responsible for handing out a game-high eight assists as well. Agho currently leads the team not only in scoring (16.4 ppg) but assists (66) as well, which makes him tough to guard knowing that he is always looking for teammates at the offensive end of the floor. Barbour checks in with 11.6 ppg and, which 54 assists, has combined with Agho to account for all but 52 of the unit's dishes through 14 outings.

Wroblewski clearly has the potential to clean up on offense if given the chance by the Columbia defense, which is why a team that is six games under .500 stands a chance in this meeting.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cornell 63, Columbia 60

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I understand that key players got into foul trouble early and had to sit down. In that time, Columbia went on a run to build a 14 point lead at half time. Starters came back and put up a valiant 2nd half effort but Columbia managed to hold them off.

There were a few things though. On at least 3 occasions, Columbia missed a field goal attempt and/or lost the ball out of bounds. But somewhere on the court, a Cornellian committed an unnecessary foul that sent Columbia to the FT line, rewarding them with easy points on what should've been empty possessions.

Secondly, Cornell themselves made only 57% of their free-throw shots. I hope they make time to practice these; it's something that can provide a helpful difference in close games. There's no reason Cornell can't be good at it too. It's a portion you can really improve on with individual effort and practice. Laurent Rivard made 100 shots each morning before school to get as good as he is; he apparently used to be terrible and was just determined to do whatever it took to get better.

I hope the first half was jitters and that in the future, both halves are more like second halves. It was a tough lesson to learn in a winnable game, but please don't play halves like that again; please turn it into a helpful lesson.