- Dartmouth team report-"The highlights of the campaign were the stunning wins at Drake and at home against three-time defending champion Cornell."
The Big Red was a team built to win in 2009-10, and it did so like no squad in the history of the Cornell program.
Cornell lost the core of the team that reached the Sweet 16 of the 2010 NCAA Tournament and captured its third Ivy League title in a row, and it saw its coach depart for Boston College, so the conventional wisdom was that the success of the 2010-11 squad would hinge upon how quickly the Big Red jelled.
Unfortunately, that happened too late in the season for the Big Red to have an impact on the Ivy race, and its reign of three consecutive conference crowns came to an end with a 6-8 finish in league play.
Cornell didn’t exactly come into Ivy League play on a roll, winning just four of its 14 nonconference games. It followed that up by losing its first five league contests, with the nadir being a 64-57 defeat at Dartmouth that proved to be the Big Green’s lone conference win of the year.
But after that debacle, Cornell finished the season with six wins in its final nine games. Though the Big Red finished in a tie for fifth place, the late-season rally at least gave players and fans reason to be optimistic about the future.
The Big Red says goodbye to a trio of seniors: Aaron Osgood, Adam Wire and Mark Coury. That will leave the team thinner on the inside, but if coach Bill Courtney continues to push the up-tempo style of ball, Cornell could be back in contention in 2011-12.
Three players will be particularly important to that effort. Chris Wroblewski was one of the best guards in the Ivy League as a junior, and the lone core player remaining from those NCAA Tournament squads will be a preseason Player of the Year candidate in the Ivy League. Junior Drew Ferry and sophomore Errick Peck both played a major role in 2010-11, and they will be counted on to take even bigger steps in the years to come.
Courtney has a lot of talent to work with, thanks for the pipeline that began with Steve Donahue and the culture of winning that he left when he headed for the ACC. If the late-season performance is a sign of things to come, the 10-18 mark in 2010-11 could wind up being a blip in a string of winning seasons.
• Cornell can take some comfort in the fact that most of its losses were close games that a more experienced team might have been able to prevail in. Six of its 18 losses were by three points or fewer, and four more were by five or fewer.
• F Errick Peck was a much better player on Saturdays than he was on Fridays in the second half of the Ivy League play. Over his last eight games, he averaged 14 points per game and was in double figures every time over the four Saturday contests. In the Friday games, however, he averaged 5.3 points per game and scored a high of eight points.
Final Record: 10-18, 6-8, tied for fifth in the Ivy League.
2010-11 Season Recap: Cornell suffered a brutal start to the season, going 4-10 in nonconference play as it couldn’t handle the challenging slate of games without the core players from the previous year’s Sweet 16 squad. The Ivy League schedule started in similar fashion, with the Big Red dropping its first five games. However, it closed the season strong, winning six of its last nine games to finish tied for fifth and carry some momentum into the offseason.
Quote To Note: “Right now, we think we’re top two, top three teams in the league. We’re playing our best basketball. We’re missing three huge pieces that are leaving, but we’re ending on a good note. We’re going in the right direction.”—Cornell G Chris Wroblewski, to the Ithaca Journal.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Good News: Cornell’s late-season surge was big news to a team that looked to be playing with little energy or confidence after getting beat at Dartmouth and blowing a late lead at Yale to drop to 0-5 in conference play. Though the Big Red loses a big chunk of its frontcourt to graduation, that could prove to be less impactful if Bill Courtney does as expected and has his team go more up-tempo in 2011-12. With Chris Wroblewski, Errick Peck and Drew Ferry leading the way, the Big Red have the talent base to jump right back into title contention.
The Bad News: None of Cornell’s six league wins came against Harvard or Princeton, the two top teams in the Ivy League. Any aura of invincibility the team built up over its run of three consecutive titles is long gone, but the fact that it raised the bar so high means that the Ivy League in general is a tougher league now, meaning the Big Red won’t necessarily have an easy time muscling past its rivals. The current group of core players will go into 2011-12 still needing to prove it can win big games, and its coach, Bill Courtney, is in the same boat.
Key Returnees: Cornell returns its top three scorers, led by Chris Wroblewski. The point guard was a huge part of two Ivy League championship squads, and he is steady with both the ball and his shot. The coaching staff will be looking for more consistency from Drew Ferry and Errick Peck, and the team will contend if both can improve their game.
• Junior G Chris Wroblewski had 149 assists in 2010-11. That’s the fourth most in school history and the best mark in more than half a century, since David Bradfield had 150 in 1953-54.
• Senior F Aaron Osgood had a premature end to his college career after suffering a torn MCL. He missed the entire month of February, but after being sidelined for nine games, he got cleared to take the court on Senior Day, playing one minute in the finale against Yale.
• Freshman G Dominick Scelfo missed the 2010-11 campaign after being injured in the preseason.