Sunday, December 1, 2013

Irish Illustrated Previews Cornell

Above, a 1983 Cornell-Notre Dame game program.

Game 6: Cornell (0-8) @ Notre Dame (4-1)
Date: Dec. 1, 2013
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Place: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center; Notre Dame, Ind.
Conference: Ivy League
Nickname: Big Red
Location: Ithaca, N.Y.
2012-13 record: 13-18 (5-9 in Ivy League)
Famous alumni: Janet Reno, Attorney General under Bill Clinton; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice; Edmund Muskie, U.S. Secretary of State; C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General under Ronald Reagan; Dick Schaap, sportscaster, anchor, writer; Keith Olbermann, sportscaster, newscaster.
Head coach
Bill Courtney (4th year at Cornell) - Courtney, 41, took over for Bill Donahue prior to the 2010-11 season when Donahue - who won three straight Ivy League titles -- landed the Boston College job. Courtney, an assistant at Bowling Green, George Mason, Providence, Virginia and Virginia Tech, has compiled a 35-60 record.
You should know
The Big Red has yet to win a game this season and has lost by an average margin of 16.6 points per game in their eight setbacks. They've taken on an ambitious schedule, falling at Syracuse, 82-60, in the season-opener, and at Louisville, 99-54, in the middle of November. Cornell also has suffered a couple of heartbreaking losses - 93-89 in overtime against Loyola-Maryland and 71-70 at home against Siena?Despite scoring 89 points against Loyola-Maryland and 79 in a 10-point home loss to Binghamton, Cornell ranks 270th in points per game (68.9). The Big Red also is 260th in field-goal percentage (.422) and 245th in rebounding (34.1 rpg.).
Top losses
Johnathan Gray (10.0 ppg.), Errick Peck (9.7 ppg., 4.8 rpg.; transferred to Purdue), Shonn Miller (11.5 ppg., 6.8 rpg.; shoulder surgery)
Top players
G-Nolan Cressler (6-4, 198, Soph.) - After averaging 9.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as a freshman, Cressler has emerged as the Big Red's leading scorer, averaging 18.3 points per game. He scored 27 points (5-of-13 from three-point range) Friday against Western Michigan, 25 points (11-of-19 FGs) on Nov. 22 against Siena, and 23 points in the season-opener at Syracuse.
G-Robert Hatter (6-2, 165, Fr.) - Tossed in 32 points against Loyola-Maryland in his second game for the Big Red. Also scored 22 points (6-of-11 three-pointers) versus Western Michigan and 18 against Radford. Cornell's second-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game.
Inside the Irish
Notre Dame enters the Cornell game ranked sixth nationally in assists per game (19.6), 49th in field-goal percentage (.491) and 80th in scoring (80.2 ppg.)?Jerian Grant is off to a sizzling start to his senior/red-shirt junior season. Not only is he pacing the Irish in scoring at 19.4 points per game, but he's shooting .542 from the field (32-of-59), .458 from three-point range (11-of-24) and .880 from the free-throw line (22-of-25). Grant and Eric Atkins are the main reasons behind Notre Dame's top-notch assist-to-turnover ratio (98-to-56). Grant has 29 assists and just seven turnovers while Atkins has 25 assists and five turnovers?Garrick Sherman came alive against Santa Clara and Army after shaky performances against Miami (Ohio) and Indiana State. He scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds against Santa Clara, and then followed that up less than 48 hours later with 19 points and seven rebounds against Army. In the last two games, Sherman has converted 12-of-20 field-goal attempts and 11-of-14 from the charity stripe?Pat Connaughton leads the Irish in three-point percentage at .545 (12-of-22)?Freshman guard Demetrius Jackson scored 13 points (3-of-4 from the field, 2-of-2 from three-point) and grabbed eight rebounds against Santa Clara. He followed that up with 11 points (4-of-7 shooting, 2-of-3 from three-point) against Army?Sunday's game against Cornell marks the sixth straight home game for the Irish to start the 2013-14 season. They hit the road Tuesday, Dec. 3, to take on Iowa (7-1), which won twice and then lost to Villanova in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving weekend.
Prister's Take
Graduation, transfers and injuries have sabotaged Cornell's early-season performance, and a victory over anybody would be welcome. But it's not going to come Sunday at Purcell Pavilion.
This likely is one of Notre Dame's last cakewalks of the pre-conference schedule with challenging tests at Iowa, at home against Delaware and Bryant, and neutral site games against Indiana in Indianapolis and Ohio State in New York.
Cornell hasn't been the same since Bill Donahue parlayed three straight Ivy League titles into an upgrade to the ACC at Boston College. Fourth-year head coach Bill Courtney is a well-liked successor, but the fact of the matter is the Big Red hasn't been very competitive in the Ivy League.
Only one senior starts for Cornell and one other is among the top eight in the rotation. Notre Dame's size/strength advantage could be significant if Mike Brey chooses to go big. Cornell doesn't shoot well enough, either from the field (.422) or the free-throw line -- where the Big Red is shooting an astonishingly poor .595 (69-of-116) - to challenge for an upset, let alone pull it off.
The Irish have had a week to prepare/recover from two games in less than 48 hours when they probably would have preferred to return to the hardwood after challenging yet encouraging victories over Santa Clara and Army. The pace picks up considerably beginning with the Big Red as the Irish play six times in two weeks.
Pointspread: Notre Dame by 25
Prister's Prediction: Notre Dame 87, Cornell 64
Prister's record: 4-1 straight up; 2-1 vs. points

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