Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ball Durham, Duke Chronicle and Fayetteville Observer Previews for Cornell

Above, Cornell at Duke in 2008. Get all the information you need about the Cornell Big Red's game at Duke, Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 7 pm (EST), nationally televised on ESPNU, with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center.  Below, more previews for the game.

Quick Preview: The newly-crowned No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (9-0) take on the Cornell Big Red (4-5) in a match-up of two very different teams.

Start time: 7pm (ET)

Channel: ESPNU

The Duke Blue Devils return from an eleven-day break with a 9-0 record, a shiny new No. 1 ranking, and a match-up against the Ivy League’s Cornell Big Red this afternoon.

Duke (9-0, #1), who received all but three of the first-place votes in the most recent AP Poll, matches up well with Cornell, who is currently sitting near the bottom of college basketball in Points Per Game (63.9, 259th in the nation), Field Goal Percentage (.394, 304th in the nation), assists (12.0, 233rd in the nation), and numerous other categories. By a wide margin, the Big Red’s most significant problems lie on the offensive end, where they lack dependable scorers capable of giving Cornell consistent offensive outputs. Their biggest threat is Sophomore Shonn Miller, a 6’7 and highly athletic forward who took home the Ivy League Freshman-of-the-Year honors last season. Miller has increased his output this season, improving in most statistical categories, including PPG (10.3), STL (2.0), RPG (8.2), APG (1.2), BPG (1.9), and FTP (86.8%). After Miller, however, Cornell is a mess of inconsistency and lackluster performance, with no other player averaging more than 8.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, or 2.9 APG.

The obvious observation to make here: Cornell doesn’t have the firepower to hang with Duke, as all five Blue Devils’ starters average more than Cornell’s Miller, their top scorer. If the Big Red are going to have any chance in this game, they’re going to have to put together a near flawless performance on defense, a phase they haven’t been particularly bad at this season.

Some notes:

-Cornell, in their only other game against a Top-25 team this season, were smothered in a 73-40 loss against the then No. 22 ranked (now unranked) Wisconsin Badgers. In the loss, all five starters combined for thirteen points…thirteen.

-The contest will mark the first time Coach K and Co. will take the court as the No. 1 team in the nation since the 2010-2011 squad. That team, which featured Kyrie Irving, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith, held onto the top spot for eleven weeks before falling to Florida State.

-Indiana’s loss to Butler, which included a lackluster performance from star Cody Zeller, had to push Mason Plumlee in the lead for POY awards. Plumlee is currently averaging 19.2 PPG and 11.3 RPG, with his best performances coming against the tougher teams on the Blue Devils’ schedule.

-The game starts at 7pm (ET) and will be televised on ESPNU.

Now that final exams are complete, the Duke basketball hiatus is finally over.

The newly No.1 ranked Blue Devils (9-0) are back in action tonight as they face Cornell (4-6) at 7:00 pm in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Here are three things to watch for in tonight’s non-conference matchup:

Marshall Plumlee’s debut

The Blue Devil frontcourt is getting substantially bigger. Recently cleared to practice after sustaining a foot injury in the preseason, redshirt freshman center Marshall Plumlee is expected to make his debut as a Duke Blue Devil tonight against the Big Red.

The 7-foot center—who was expected to be a key contributor coming into the year—should be a huge asset on the glass, one of the team’s biggest weaknesses so far this season.

Playing an inferior opponent, Plumlee—a player that is praised for his nonstop motor—should get plenty of time on the court in tonight’s contest if he is in adequate shape. Developing Plumlee into a reliable rotation player that can rebound effectively will be key for the Blue Devils as they enter conference play next month.

A hot start and a strong defensive outing

With an 11-day layoff due to a grueling exam period, how will the top-ranked Blue Devils come out of the gate? The trio of seniors—Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly—will likely not let the team come out flat, especially against a Big Red offense that has a hard time scoring, averaging a meager 63.9 points per game. Cornell only has one player—6-foot-7 forward Shonn Miller—that averages double figures, and he nets just 10.3 points per game. A fast start combined with a strong defensive effort should allow the Blue Devils to put the game away early.

More burn for the bench

Since the team will not see another ranked foe until N.C. State on Jan. 12, these next couple weeks are a golden opportunity for Duke to further develop its bench. Tonight’s tilt with a lesser Cornell squad should allow for reserves Alex Murphy, Amile Jefferson, Josh Hairston, and Marshall Plumlee to get plenty of playing time. And with building for the future in mind, games like these are important for instilling confidence in this season’s role players.

Cornell (4-6) at No. 1 Duke (9-0), 7 p.m. on ESPNU

1. Debut in blue

Duke's Marshall Plumlee is set to play in an official game for the first time in 21 months.

Plumlee helped the Christ School beat Charlotte Christian 59-57 in an NCISAA state championship game in March of 2011. Since then he's appeared in high school all-star games, college exhibitions in China and Dubai, even the N.C. Pro-Am, but he hasn't registered any official stats as a member of the Blue Devils.

Plumlee redshirted last season, and he missed the first nine games of this season while recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot. With his size (6-foot-11, 235 pounds) and energy, he can make an impact off the bench for Duke, especially as a defensive rebounder.

"People have pointed to the boards as one of our weaknesses, and I think right away he helps us on the boards," said Duke senior Mason Plumlee, Marshall's older brother. "He's athletic, he's 7 feet tall, and he goes after the ball. He's not afraid of contact."

2. Breaking down the opponent

Cornell played Monday night at Vanderbilt and lost 66-55. The Big Red trailed by 19 points in the first half and cut the deficit to two after the break.

Cornell opened the season with a win against Western Michigan, and it has lost to St. Bonaventure (72-68), Wisconsin (70-43) and Arizona State (64-53) in the most high-profile games.

In the official NCAA statistics, the Big Red ranks in the top 100 nationally in one category: free-throw percentage. It averages 64.9 points per game with one double-figure scorer in 6-7, 210-pound sophomore forward Shonn Miller (10.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks). Each of the team's top three scorers is either a freshman or sophomore.

3. Rounding back into form

Duke, which last played 11 days ago and is in action for the second time since Dec. 1, has another game Thursday against Elon. The Blue Devils played three straight days in the Bahamas, beating Minnesota, VCU and Louisville at the Battle 4 Atlantis event.

Duke's Seth Curry, who has been dealing with a right shin injury, played 33 minutes, 31 minutes and 34 minutes in those contests.


Anonymous said...

If you wonder why Cornell is shooting less that 40 % part of it is because no one sets any screens. Particulary on 3 pt shots. Against Vandy they were 5 for 28. Cresler and some of the other guards can shoot the 3 ball well but not when you are rushed.

Anonymous said...

I think Cornell fans need to be patient with Courtney because frustration and impatience do as much harm as poor coaching. But I am sick and tired of (a) people calling the roster untalented: they are some of the best recruits we've ever had; (b) people insisting that it should take five to six years because it took Donahue five to six years: Donahue started with way less and many, many other coaches do things far faster ... if it takes Courtney six years, it won't be because of his players, or because six years is a natural length; (c) people acting like we're the only school in the universe with a new coach, when last year's second and third place finishers just worked hard under their new coaches and came within one game of forcing a playoff. The team just needs to put in work and get out of their own heads.

Anonymous said...

Well, it was a good start. Too bad they had to come back for the second half. A 35-2 run? Ugh.

br2 said...

Was at the game. Super proud of this team and the way they played. Exciting first few minutes and entire first half. Unfortunately a monster run of at least 30-2 to start the 2nd half for Duke killed all hopes. 30-2 can't happen, even against a team like Duke, and Cornell had played so well in the first half it is a bit strange...but whatever. Either way, they played their hearts out. Big props to Miles who showed a ton of offensive swagger and aggressiveness in the 2nd half. Hope he continues that and got some confidence from this game. And, Shonn Miller...what a beast. I still feel coach hasn't figured out the best way to utilize him, so imagine how beastly he'll be once that is sorted out.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the game didn't end after 15 minutes. We looked terrific for that period aside from some unforced turnovers.

The second half was the biggest trouncing I can remember watching...ever. A 40+ point loss is pretty demoralizing.

Anonymous said...

U have to remember BidRed was playing the #1 team in the nation on their court. A court where there r very few loses in the most hostile environment in college basketball. They show they had heart and fight which will serve them well in the very near future. Love the way they attacked the basket even when everything wasn't falling. BigRed gotta learn how to come to the ball instinctively when teammates get trapped or in trouble. Passes need to b made when teammates first come open not after looking all over the court then try to come back to man who was open. Let's give them an A for effort and a D for execution. B plus first half D- second and C - overall agaisnt a curve. Bright side found out uptempo can work, now let's c if we can smooth the rough parts out. Proud of u BigRed Keep your heads high!!!!!!!!!!!'

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 4:21