Friday, March 4, 2011

Cornell Daily Sun Previews Senior Weekend vs. Brown/Yale

Tri-captain Adam Wire and four other Cornell seniors will play their last game at Newman Arena on Saturday.

By Albert Liao
Cornell Daily Sun
March 4, 2011

This weekend will mark the bittersweet end to the most successful era of Cornell basketball. Newman Nation will say goodbye to seniors Mark Coury, Aaron Osgood and Adam Wire; the latter two were on the team for all three of Cornell’s Ivy League championships. Cornell (8-18, 4-8 Ivy League) will face-off against Brown (11-15, 4-8) tonight at 7 p.m. and tomorrow night, the senior class will be honored before the Red plays host to Yale (14-12, 7-5) for its last game of the season.

The last time Cornell played Brown, it was a shootout as the Red prevailed, 91-79. The teams combined to hit 27 3-pointers in a contest that seemed as though whoever had the ball last would win the game. This time around, the Red will look to concentrate on defense rather than rely on 3-pointers.

“We don’t average 90 points a game, so we can’t count on our shooting to be like that,” said junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski. “If you look at our defensive statistics, they aren’t great. Brown also had a great shooting night … and we just ended up hitting a few more 3’s than they did … If we don’t improve defensively, then I don’t think we’ll win [this game] because they’re a very good offensive team.”

This time around, the Bears will feature their leading scorer and rebounder, senior forward Peter Sullivan, who missed the first matchup between the two teams due to a shoulder injury. The Red will have to account for him as well as Brown’s other weapons.

“Peter Sullivan … is very, very difficult to guard … so he’ll have to be a guy that we’ll have to key on, as well as [point guard] Sean McGonagill, who’s making a run for [Ivy League Freshman] of the Year,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “We really have to guard Brown; they’re a very potent offensive team, so we’ll have to do a great job of contesting their shots, particularly their 3-point shots.”

Brown and Cornell have the same Ivy League record at 4-8, but the similarities between the two teams do not end there.

“Brown really mirrors us in the way they've been playing,” Courtney said. “They’ve picked it up, are playing well down the stretch and they score a lot of points, similar to what we’re doing.”

Yale sits third in the Ivy League standings and has enjoyed a successful season led by Greg Mangano. A candidate for Ivy League Player of the Year, the 6-10, 240-pound center leads the entire conference with 16.1 points, 10 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game.

In Cornell’s first game against Yale, the Red limited Mangano to 14 points and nine rebounds and held a 10-point lead with two minutes to go; however, the Red collapsed down the stretch and lost a heartbreaker, 71-70.

“We played an excellent 38 minutes of basketball. We did exactly what we wanted to do; we took them out of their offense, we sped them up, we were aggressive on defense and offense, but at the end there maybe some of our immaturity showed and we … crumbled in the last two minutes,” Wroblewski said.

Cornell doesn’t plan to change much against Yale this time around — as long as it plays with intensity, the team is confident it has the ability to earn a win.

“Any time you put yourself in position to be up 10 on the road at the end of the game, you’ve played a very good game,” Courtney said. “[Against Yale], we played with tremendous intensity and the players did a good job on Mangano … I think if we can replicate some of those things we did in that game, we’ll be in good shape.”

First and foremost, this weekend will be used to honor the outgoing seniors. Despite playing in the shadows of last year’s extraordinary senior class led by stars Ryan Wittman ’10, Louis Dale ’10 and Jeff Foote ’10, this year’s class was integral to the squad’s three consecutive Ivy League championships, according to Wroblewski.

“I think they’re very underrated; they don’t get … the hype or recognition for the success we’ve had the last few years,” Wroblewski praised. “Everyone knows the big names of Wittman, Dale and Foote, but this class was there for every Ivy League victory … so I think they deserve some recognition for that.

“They also served as great leaders for us this year,” Wroblewski added. “We have some young guys on this team and we went through some adversity, some rough times with the losing, but this senior class really instilled a winning culture and a positive attitude and kept us on the right track.”

Through the course of the season, the seniors have developed close bonds with the team’s younger players, making this farewell even harder to swallow.

“This year’s senior class has done so much in Cornell basketball history, given so much to the University and to the program,” Courtney said. “It’s a tough thing, with the team being so close, to leave their friends; [it is] almost like losing a family member … We’re losing a colleague, but it’s a celebration of everything we’ve accomplished and … what they’ve meant to this program and the school.”

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