After a disappointing weekend that eliminated the Red’s shot at an Ivy League title, the Cornell men’s basketball team (13-14, 5-5 Ivy League) looks to rebound this weekend against Brown (10-14, 4-6) and Yale (11-16, 5-5). The Red came away with road wins just two weeks ago against the Bears and the Bulldogs, and hope to repeat that success in the last two home games of the year. The Red will honor the six seniors on the team — captain and guard Miles Asafo-Adjei, guard Johnny Gray, forward Errick Peck, forward Eitan Chemerinski, forward Josh Figini and forward Peter McMillan — as they play in their final games at Newman Arena.
Despite losing both games at home last weekend, the Red will try to move on and concentrate on playing well in its final home games of the year, according to Peck.
“We only have four games left and it’s Senior Weekend; all our family and friends are going to be there,” Peck said. “We’re feeling good about our chances to win. We’re trying to throw those losses out of the window; they’re in the past and you can’t cry over spilled milk. That’s our team mentality. We just [want to] come out and play hard and try to win these next two games.”
Having recently beaten both visiting teams on the road has fiven the Red confidence and a good indication of what it needs to do to succeed against them.
“We’re pretty confident; we understand how we played last time and we understand what ultimately won us the game,” Asafo-Adjei said. “Both teams [Yale and Brown] are teams that run a lot of different plays, so we need to take them out of what they want to do. We need to pressure the ball and make sure they can’t swing it easily and get into their sets.”
According to Peck, the Red needs to improve on its talking on the defensive end.“We need to communicate on defense; last week we gave up high field goal-percentages for both teams, so our biggest thing is to talk on the floor and communicate on defense,” Peck said. “If we make a mistake, we need to tell each other where we’re at so we’ll pick up the slack. If we play good defense, we’ll get out in transition and that’s our game, so the biggest thing is to get stops on defense.”Last time against Brown, point guard Sean McGonagill scored 19 points, but only had one assist and turned the ball over six times. The Red has a similar defensive game plan against him on Friday, hoping to wear him out.“Guarding McGonagill will be the same [as last time],” the captain said. “We will try to wear him down the entire game, and since he’s playing close to the entire game every night for Brown, we just have to keep coming at him and pressuring him full-court. We need to wear him down and make all his shots tough looks.”Freshman forward Cedric Kuakumensah also had a solid game against the Red last time, scoring 13 points, grabbing 19 rebounds and blocking four shots. Despite his impressive stat line, the Red is not worried he will impact the game too much this Friday.“He put up a big stat game, but if you were at the game, he didn’t have that big an impact,” Peck explained. “The biggest thing is to keep him off the glass and not let him get as many easy touches inside and we’ll be fine. If we do that, he won’t put up those stats again.”To repeat its success against Yale on Saturday, the Red will have to contain the Bulldog’s starting backcourt of Javier Duren and Austin Morgan and freshman forward Justin Sears, according to Asafo-Adjei.“[Duren and Morgan] are very important for their team, so I imagine they will try to get them going early, so we have to do a better job this time around,” Asafo-Adjei said. “They’ll also want to get their post players involved … Justin Sears is one of their main options and one of their leading scorers, so I think they’ll want to get him involved a little more this time. We have to do a good job of making it tough for him to score.”Unfortunately, the Red will once again be without Gray, who was out last weekend with an injury. The Red understands how tough it is to replace him and the impact he has on the team when he plays.“Gray is a team leader and can definitely score, shoot the ball and stretch the defense out for us,” Peck said. “He was really missed last weekend and we’ll miss him this upcoming weekend, but he’s giving a lot of love and support from the bench and other people will step up and take his leadership and scoring load off a little bit while he’s out.”One of the players who has stepped into his role is junior guard Dominick Scelfo, who played 23 minutes in each game last weekend — up from his season average of 13.3 minutes.“Every game, Dom gets a little more confident,” Asafo-Adjei said. “He’s a great player, especially on the offensive end. He’s been a steady source of offense for us and he’s another ball handler for us as well.”
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