By Albert Liao
Cornell Daily Sun
February 11, 2011
All winning streaks must start somewhere. After winning its first Ivy League game of the season at Brown last Saturday, the Cornell men’s basketball team will look to ride the momentum and finish the season strong. The Red’s first two tests come this weekend, as Cornell (5-15, 1-5 Ivy League) will face off against visiting Penn (9-10, 3-2) tonight at 7 p.m. and Princeton (17-4, 5-0) tomorrow night.
A year after struggling through a six-win campaign, Penn has rebounded in 2010-11 and played very well in conference games. Penn won its first three Ivy games, but last weekend lost by one in double overtime to second-place Harvard (16-4, 5-1), then by three to first-place Princeton in one overtime. Despite the Quakers’ sub-.500 overall record, they could have been first in the Ivy League entering tonight’s game had a few bounces gone in their favor.
Led by guard Zack Rosen — who plays 36.7 minutes a game — Penn has a very balanced attack, with four players averaging double-figures in points. The Quakers lack size upfront, as they rank 336th in the country in rebounding. The Red must find a way to contain 6-8, 215-pound Jack Eggleston — Penn’s man in the middle — who averages 38.1 minutes, 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. The Quakers’ next leading rebounder is Rosen, only bringing in 3.8 rebounds a game. By neutralizing Eggleston, the Red could obtain a significant advantage on the boards.
The strength of the Red remains the 3-point shot, led by junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski and junior guard Andrew Ferry. Since the start of league play, Wroblewski has knocked down nine 3-pointers, while Ferry has hit 18 — shooting a scorching 41 percent from downtown.
The guards’ strong play in the Brown game, according to Wroblewski, was a result of great performances by the Cornell big men.
“[Sophomore forward] Eitan Chemerinski and [senior center] Mark Coury did a tremendous job scoring in the paint and scoring on the block for us,” Wroblewski said. “We haven’t gotten a ton of scoring from the low post area, but we did in the Brown game and that was great to see. ... It was easier to get open looks from the outside.”
Princeton poses an even greater challenge than Penn for the Red, as the Tigers currently sit atop the Ivy League and seem a likely contender for the Ivy League’s NCAA tournament spot. With their top five scorers returning from last year’s 22-win team, the Tigers are looking to make some noise in the Big Dance in the same manner Cornell did last year.
The Tigers lead the Ivy League in field goal percentage, making 46.6 percent of their shots from the field, while also boasting two sharpshooters in Dan Mavraides and Douglas Davis. Stopping the famed Princeton offense will be a tall task, but the Red’s play of late has been encouraging.
“[Against Brown], we executed on the offensive end extremely well,” Wroblewski said. “We got stops when it counted. In the Yale game, down the stretch when we needed to get a stop, we didn’t come up with one.”
One change for the Red over the last two games is the insertion of sophomore guard Miles Asafo-Adjei into the starting lineup. His contribution has been a catalyst for the Red’s improved play.
“I think Miles in the starting lineup gives us great energy,” Wroblewski said. “He’s a fantastic defender and can really pressure the ball and disrupt [the other team’s] offense.”