This Saturday will be an exciting opportunity for the Albright College men's basketball team as the Lions travel to face Cornell University, their first NCAA Division I opponent in over a decade.
The teams will tip-off at 2 PM in the Newman Arena. The Big Red is averaging 1,763 fans at home this season.
Although Albright has never faced Cornell before the Lions do have a small history with the Ivy League, playing Columbia and Dartmouth in the 1960s. Albright defeated Columbia 86-53 in the 1960-61 season.
The Lions have quite an act to follow, as Cornell (4-8) will play Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Maryland tonight- the 2002 NCAA Division I champion.
The Big Red made national headlines in 2009-10 with a run to the NCAA Sweet 16, beating Temple in the opening round before shocking Wisconsin. Head coach Steve Donohue then moved on to Boston College, with former Bucknell star Bill Courtney now in his second season at the helm in Ithaca, N.Y.
Senior Drew Ferry is playing for his third school and has found his place at Cornell, leading the team in scoring with 14.2 ppg. He eclipsed 20 points in back-to-back overtime victories over Lehigh and Albany last month.
Point guard Chris Wroblewski is averaging 8.8 ppg and leads the squad in assists (69) and steals (21). 6-7 freshman Shonn Miller (8.8 ppg) adds team-bests in rebounding (5.9 rpg) and blocked shots (18).
Rounding out Cornell's most-used starting lineup are juniors Johnathan Grady and Eitan Chemerinski, while 6-9 junior Josh Figini is averaging 8.1 ppg off the bench.
Albright (8-3 heading into tonight's matchup with Moravian) starts a pair of senior post players in Derek Hall (13.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and Shane Irwin (9.3 ppg, 12 blocks, 16 steals).
Swingmen Cornell Mickens (9.7 ppg) and Kyle Jordan (8.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) have started every game this season, along with sophomore point guard Sam Marrella (41 assists).
The Lions will have at least one player familiar with the level of competition in new transfer guard Dave Singleton. Singleton played two seasons at Division I High Point, starting as a true freshman, before transferring to Marquette. After sitting out a mandatory redshirt year in 2010-11, Singleton recorded 13 points and 24 minutes last night in his first significant action with the Red and White.
The Lions might actually be better suited to take the floor against D-I competition than most teams at their level due to their impressive size and athleticism. Hall (6-11), Casey Burke (6-10) and Zach Benjamin (6-8) make Albright one of the Commonwealth Conference's bigger teams, and Jordan, Mickens and Singleton add significant athleticism on the perimeter.
Cornell will be providing video streaming of the game (http://www.cornellbigred.com/showcase/#liveevents) while Albright's radio play-by-play man Bob McCool will also be in attendance. Check back with albrightathletics.com later in the week for more information on the big game.