Friday, February 24, 2012

Cornell Daily Sun Previews Weekend at Brown/Yale

In the wake of two tough losses on the road, the men’s basketball team looks to rebound this weekend by beating two teams that it has defeated in the past. The Red (10-14, 5-5 Ivy League) will travel to Brown (7-20, 1-9) on Friday and then head to New Haven to take on the Yale Bulldogs (17-7, 7-3).

Brown, who is currently tied for last in the conference with Dartmouth, still forced the Red to work for the win in the first matchup. After a fine shooting performance by the Bear’s Matt Sullivan in the first half, the Red went into the locker room only up by two points. They began the second half with a 15-1 run, hitting five straight three-pointers. According to senior guard and co-captain Drew Ferry, in the upcoming matchup, the team will want to give the Brown shooters their due respect and look to prevent them from getting open looks.

“On defense, we want to really get after them, pressure them and force them to make plays, and in doing that, we really want to communicate, making sure we find shooters as well as maintaining quicker rotation,” he said.

Additionally, the Red will have to deal with sophomore guard Sean McGonagill, who was injured during the first game. McGonagill is leading the Bears with 14 points per game and he, along with the other Brown guards, will draw a lot of attention from the Red defense.

“We have to do a great job of guarding their shooters and making sure that they don’t get off to a hot start like last game,” Ferry said. “[On the other hand] We’ll have to attack the basket well and make sure we get out in transition to get some easy opportunities.”

After playing in Providence, the team will make the trip to New Haven and take on a Yale squad that is currently sitting in third place in the Ivy League. The last time these two teams faced off, the Red won an overtime thriller, coming out of the game with an 85-84 victory. This time around, the team knows that the Bulldogs will be hungry for a win and will look to build on the strengths it utilized during the first game.

“We have to use our speed and quickness and our defensive intensity. They’re going to try to pound the basketball inside and really hurt us on the glass,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “We have to do a really good job at limiting what they do well and trying to accentuate what we do well.”

One thing the Red will have to overcome is Yale’s solid defense. Over the course of the season, the Bulldogs have outrebounded opponents and limited other teams to 34 percent shooting from three-point range.

“We have to attack inside out and with dribble penetration, collapse the defense, and then kick it out for wide open shots,” Courtney said. “We also have to look to go inside a little bit more in order to make sure we’re balanced and to maintain an inside presence.”

Getting out in transition and running the floor will also be vital to the Red attack. According to Ferry, a key strength for the Cornell offense is to utilize its fast break capabilities, “Getting out in transition, spotting up and setting great screens [are important for us],” he said. “We need to set great screens, forcing them to make a decision, and then either we will have open shooters or open looks down low.”

On the defensive end, the Red will have to focus on senior Greg Mangano, the Bulldogs 6-10 center. Mangano is averaging 18.4 points per game along with 9.9 rebounds and is putting himself in good position as a front runner for Ivy League Player of the Year. Ferry said that defense on Mangano, “is going to have to be a team effort. The first thing is that guards will have to have a lot of pressure on the [Yale] guards to prevent entry pressure. The post guys will then have to do a great job of fronting and denying the ball and then the weak side helper will have to bring a quick double team.”

With the season coming to a close, the Red is looking to end on a high note. “We had a really good week of practice, it’s been really competitive, [we’ve been] kind of getting our mindset back to where it needs to be and our goal is to finish up these last four games up strong,” Ferry said.

According to Courtney, after dropping two away games last weekend, the Red needs to bring its home-court mindset on the road against Yale and Brown.

“It’s tough to come off of two losses last weekend, but we just played these guys a week and a half ago,” he said. “I think we should be confident against these teams, but now we’re going on the road where we have struggled. We will be trying to find a way to recreate that home court intensity while on the road.”

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