ITHACA — Eitan Chemerinski loves being part of a team. That’s why he loves basketball, and precisely why he is such an important cog for the Cornell men’s basketball team.
The 6-foot-8 senior forward from Potomac, Md., wraps up his four-year career, along with five other seniors, this weekend with home games against Brown on Friday and Yale on Saturday. Chemerinski, reserved by nature, will seek to lead the Big Red by example.
“The game itself is just an amazing game to play,” said Chemerinski, who will graduate as Cornell’s all-time leader in field goal percentage (63.5 percent). “But beyond that, always being part of a team has always really appealed to me. My best friends in high school were on my basketball team and it is definitely the same in college. If you are going to commit so much time to playing a sport, it makes it a lot more rewarding when you are doing it with your best friends.”
The Big Red (13-14, 5-5 Ivy League) have four games remaining in the conference schedule, including a two-game trip to face Harvard and Dartmouth to close out the regular season. There really isn’t much more than pride to play for after the Red suffered two home losses the previous week again Penn and Princeton. But that doesn’t mean that Chemerinski and the seniors don’t want to finish strong.
“The focus for this season has always been the same,” said Chemerinski, who has started 16 of 27 games this season at center for the Red, averaging 6.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. “We really want to play with as much defensive intensity as we can and that will really jumpstart our offense.”
Cornell coach Bill Courtney said Chemerinski has grown tremendously as a player during his three years as coach.
“His improvement over the past few years has been unbelievable,” Courtney said. “When I came here at the end of his freshman year, you never would’ve expected that he was going to be a contributor. He was very thin, he was passive, and he got pushed around. He’s worked his tail off to develop and he is an incredible kid. He is just a true team guy.”