Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ithaca Journal Checks In with Cornell

This might not be anything Cornell men's basketball coach Bill Courtney wants to hang his hat on, but there's a very good argument for the Big Red being the best 4-9 team in the country.

Cornell wrapped up its five-game, 15-day East Coast road trip with yet another agonizingly close defeat Tuesday, falling to Atlantic Coast Conference member Maryland, 70-62, after coming all the way back from a 23-point first-half deficit to trail by just one with 2:10 remaining.

Courtney's squad lost all five road games during the holiday break -- by an average of 6.2 points -- and are 0-8 away from Newman Arena this season.

The Big Red will finally return home Saturday, when it hosts Division III opponent Albright College at 2 p.m., just six days before the start of the Ivy League season.

"The thing we talked about before the road trip was trying to get better," Courtney said. "What we did was go on the road and give ourselves a chance to win, in five games, four of them being against a league champion, two Big 10 opponents and an ACC team. Any time you go on the road and give yourself a chance to win you're pleased with that."

Maryland (11-3) sprinted out of the gates against a Cornell team that Courtney said started "passively", scoring the game's first 16 points while delaying the Big Red's first field goal until almost six minutes elapsed in the first half.

The Big Red allowed Maryland to shoot 63 percent in the first 20 minutes, and after being down by as many as 23 points found itself trailing 41-26 at halftime.

As was the case in previous stops on its holiday road trip, however, Cornell came roaring back, setting off on a 16-2 run and holding the Terps without a field goal for the first 11:26 of the second half to trim their deficit to a single point at 43-42.

With Maryland refusing the relinquish the lead, the Big Red stayed within striking distance, cutting the Terrapins' advantage to 57-55 on a 3-pointer by senior point guard Chris Wroblewski and again to 61-60 with 2:10 left on a circus layup by classmate Drew Ferry.

Maryland answered Ferry's shot with a timely 3-pointer, however, and from there Cornell would not get back within five points, as the Terps made all six of their free throw attempts in the final 30 seconds.

Cornell held Maryland to just 28 percent shooting after the break, including 1-of-9 from behind the arc, and had two shots in the second half to tie or take the lead.

"I thought we didn't come out as aggressive as we needed to, which cost us," Courtney said. "Once we settled ourselves down a little bit I thought we played a pretty good game against a pretty good team. We had plenty of opportunities to get over the hump; we just couldn't make the key shot."

Breaking out of a frustrating scoring slump, Wroblewski paced Cornell with 15 points on 4-for-7 shooting, becoming the 24th player in school history to register 1,000 career points, a mark Courtney called "a great accomplishment for a guy that's meant a lot to this program."

Freshman Devin Cherry also turned in a noteworthy performance, setting career highs of 14 points, three rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes off the bench.

"Obviously we're displeased that we didn't pull any of these games out," Courtney said. "But we know that if we're playing the way we need to play, defending and rebounding, we have a chance to play with anybody."


Anonymous said...

That is one hell of a Courtney photo. Wow... lol & smh.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

I've got dozens of great ones. Will post an album of them at some point. And to think some fans were critical last year he did not show enough emotion in his first game at Albany.