ITHACA — Like it has been for the past two weeks, the Cornell men’s basketball team will be short-handed during its season-ending road trip.
But the Big Red (13-16, 5-7 Ivy League) won’t be using that as a crutch. Led by six seniors, Cornell will look to finish strong, creating a little momentum as it heads toward the offseason.
“I’ve always tried to do that in my time here, leading by example,” said senior captain Miles Asafo-Adjei. “Especially with these being our last two games, I want to make sure that we all play as hard as we can. I hope guys will follow my lead. We can’t start the game on our heels. We need to make sure that we go out and attack.”
The Red face struggling Dartmouth (7-19, 3-9) tonight in Hanover, N.H. Then Cornell will make the trip to Cambridge, Mass., to take on Harvard (17-9, 9-3) in a Saturday game that will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.
Cornell will be without leading scorer and rebounder Shonn Miller for the second consecutive weekend. He is out due to a shoulder injury. Senior guard Johnathan Gray, the Red’s second-leading scorer, is also not expected to play. He has missed the previous four games due to personal reasons.
Freshman guard Nolan Cressler and senior forward Errick Peck stepped up last weekend. Cressler averaged 20.5 points in the two games, while Peck added 16 points per contest.
“You need to do the best with what you’ve got,” Cornell coach Bill Courtney said, noting that the Red only only eight players in practice Monday, forcing them to be creative. “There are not a lot of adjustments you can make at this point in the season. We just know that we have to play smart and play hard. These guys are all capable of stepping up, even though they may be in different roles.”
The road has also proven to be friendlier than the confines of Newman Arena. The Red is 7-6 on the road, including 4-1 in conference, and 4-10 at home.
“There are things you can’t control, but we are just trying to put ourselves in a position to succeed,” senior forward Josh Figini said. “I am not sure why we’ve done better on the road, but we are really going to remember these last few games forever. We want to make sure we go out strong.”