Friday, November 22, 2013

Cornell Daily Sun Recaps Season-to-Date, Previews Siena

Sophomore guard Nolan Cressler scored a game-high 19 points on Wednesday night.

On Wednesday evening, the Cornell men’s basketball team traveled to Hamilton, N.Y. to take on long-time regional rival Colgate.
The Red came into the game with an 0-4 record, losing its latest matchup against last year’s national champions and No.3 Louisville. Prior to tip off, the players were determined to pick up a win in the midweek contest.
On Wednesday, the Red made a change to its lineup by not starting freshman guard Robert Hatter, who won Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors earlier this season, due to an ankle injury. Hatter, who has proven his worth in collegiate play early on in his career, came off the bench for the first time. Senior Jake Matthews took on the starting role, alongside guards Nolan Cressler and Devin Cherry, and forwards Dwight Tarwater and David Onuorah. The Red utilized just about every player on its bench during the game, gaining important production from the team’s role players.
Colgate scored the opening basket after tip-off, but the Red countered and took an early lead. The first half was marked by alternating leads as both squads made scoring runs. Colgate’s big men in senior Murphy Burnatowski and junior Ethan Jacobs led a charge towards the end of the half that put the Red down by nine points going into the locker room. Jacobs, the 6’11” center, showed off his range by knocking down several 3-pointers in the first half. In total, the Raiders hit six-of-13 shots from beyond the arc in the first half. The production of junior captain Devin Cherry (12 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals) kept the Red in the game in the first twenty minutes, but the halftime score remained 38-29 in favor of Colgate.
So far this season, the Red has struggled in the second half, and Wednesday’s game proved to follow a similar storyline. The Raiders dominated the scoring and defense following the break, starting the half with a nine-point run that put the Red down by double digits.
“The second half defense is away from us. In the first half they can hear us calling out the screens and the plays,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “In the second half, it’s those five guys on the other end of the floor that need to be talking to each other.”

The Red’s shooting percentage improved in the second half, shooting 48 percent from the field as a team, compared to 34 percent in the first half. Sophomore guard Nolan Cressler knocked down six shots for 13 points in the second half, en route to a 19-point game, and junior forward Deion Giddens and sophomore forward Ned Tomic gave the Red important contributions off the bench. Giddens shot a perfect five-for-five from the field throughout the game, including a couple of emphatic dunks.
“[Deion] has improved a lot on both ends of the floor, and his activity level has spurred his improvement,” Courtney said. “He is blocking shots, or at least altering shots on defense, and that activity is leading to better offensive production.”
Nonetheless, Colgate did not relinquish the lead. Burnatowski and Jacobs led the charge for the Raiders into the closing minutes. Cornell struggled defensively, allowing the Raiders to knock down 62% of their shots, including five more three-pointers.
“We have to take pride in our defense,” said sophomore guard Nolan Cressler. “We need to make sure that we don’t get too comfortable with where we are at defensively, but we are definitely not where we want to be. We need to get stops and overwhelm the other team.”
The Red was outscored by 14 points in the second half as Cornell dropped to 0-5 with the 81-58 loss.
According to senior forward Dwight Tarwater, the Red can only use this loss as a jumping off point.
“We are working on a lot of stuff,” he said. “We are watching a lot of film. We are always working on our communication. Just trying to get better every single day.”
On Friday night, the Red will look to make the hard work pay off and rebound from several tough losses as it hosts Siena College in Newman Arena. The team is heading into the next few games with a must-win mentality, because the players realize that a few home wins against evenly matched opponents can build their confidence moving forward.
“[Siena is] a young team like us, and they are trying to find their identity still. They play hard and they feed off energy kind of like we do, so we need to make sure we are ready to play a gritty game,” Cressler said.

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