Monday, January 19, 2015

News and Notes: Monday Edition

Below, news and notes...

  • Cornell recruit, Donovan Wright, gets brief mention in the Star Ledger.
What he did: Gordon scored the 1,000th point of his career in a 28-point performance on Friday as St. Mark’s beat Fort Worth Trinity Valley. He also had 24 points in a 78-74 win over Decatur on Monday. For the week he averaged 26 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Who is he? A 6-5 senior point guard.
The stats: Gordon is averaging 19.7 points, 4.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds.
He said it: “I knew I was close to [1,000 points], but at the end of the last game I went back in and no one else would shoot the ball and I had no idea what it was about. I wasn’t really told where I was. After I scored my bucket Coach Guiler called timeout, and everybody jumped up and our announcer called it out.”
Coach said it: “He’s very, very skilled, very hard working, crafty. He’s got an extremely good instinct for knowing how to catch the ball at certain spots on the floor where he can make defenders pay for being out of position.” — Greg Guiler
Did you know? Gordon will play basketball at Cornell next year. … He’s the first 1,000-point scorer Guiler has coached in his nine years at St. Mark’s. … Gordon has been a two-year captain.
It was a busy winter break for the men’s basketball team. The Red played eight games, going 3-5 and bringing its record to 8-9 and 0-1 in the Ivy League after Saturday’s loss to Columbia.
Cornell fell to Radford 74-61 to begin winter break. Despite senior forward Shonn Miller’s career high of 28 points, the Highlanders (12-7) pulled away in the second half, outscoring the Red 16-2 in the first five minutes of the period. Cornell rallied back late in the game and was able to cut the lead to six off a Miller three pointer, but Radford responded with a 6-0 run to close out the Red.
Sophomore guard Robert Hatter was the only other player to score in double figures for Cornell. He had 18, 13 of which came in the Red’s strong first half. As a team, Cornell shot 52 percent in the first half and just 15 percent in the second, connecting on four total field goals. In comparison, the Highlanders made 14. Cornell also struggled to rebound the ball, collecting 27 rebounds, a season-low.
Against Siena (6-10), Cornell avoided a similar second half collapse to beat the Saints 75-57. The Red poured in 48 points after the break off 64 percent shooting to secure the victory. Miller again led the way with 26 points and 15 rebounds. The senior’s return from injury has been a huge part of the turnaround from last season and head coach Bill Courtney said he is proud of the way Miller has improved this season.
“Over the last month or two, he has really taken a step. He got himself in great shape. He’s able to play much harder for extended periods of time,” Courtney said. “He’s worked on his game and his skill level and so he’s really, really playing well this year.”
Courtney said he believes that Miller is well on his way to being a candidate for Ivy League Player of the Year. Miller again performed well in an overtime loss to St. Peter’s, scoring 24 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. He now leads the Ivy League in scoring per game and rebounds per game.
For 40 minutes, Cornell played suffocating team defense against St. Peter’s, holding the Peacocks to 28 percent shooting. However, the opponents connected on their first two shots of overtime and Cornell was unable to dig itself out of the hole. The Peacocks forced the Red into 20 turnovers and handed Cornell its first home loss of the season.
On New Year’s Eve, Cornell travelled to the famed Carrier Dome to take on perennial powerhouse Syracuse. The Orange (13-5) led wire-to-wire and came away with a 61-44 victory, limiting the Red to 12 points in the first half. The victory was Syracuse’s 34th consecutive against Cornell. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim’s vaunted zone defense held the Red to its season low in scoring. Miller cooled off against the Orange, netting just 12 points. Cornell limited freshman power forward Chris McCullough, a top NBA draft prospect before tearing his ACL on January 11th, to six points and seven rebounds.
Several days later, the Red traveled to Buffalo to battle the Bulls (12-4). Hot shooting allowed Cornell to hang around in the first half. Senior guard Devin Cherry, who finished with a season-high 23 points, sank all four of his three pointers in the first half. As Cornell’s shooters cooled, Buffalo pulled away late in the game, outscoring the Red 51-34 in the second half. The Bulls’ Shannon Evans converted eight of 11 three point field goals, scoring 33 points in the contest.
Cherry was unable to repeat the same success in the win against Howard (8-10), scoring just three points for the Red. He was impactful with his passing, though, finishing with five assists. Hatter was able to step up and add 20 points, second on the team behind Miller’s 23. Momentum swung back and forth in the first half, but Cornell brought more defensive intensity in the second half and hung on for the 70-60 victory.
Division III opponent Alfred State (2-12) came to Ithaca on January 10th and Cornell dominated all facets of the game, winning the contest 107-29, a school-record for margin of victory. After several disappointing losses, Courtney said he was proud of how the game went.
“Going into a game where you know the opponent is a little undermanned, it makes you want to do things correctly,” he said. “I was very pleased with our group, no matter what the score was to show the maturity to continue to do things correctly.”
Not a single Pioneer scored more than five points; there were nine such players for Cornell, many of whom do not often see much playing time. Courtney was able to give some of these players a solid amount of minutes.
“It’s also great to have the guys who don’t play as much to have the opportunity to get game action; they work hard in practice every day so to get them in game action is a great reward for them, but also you never know where you’re going to need those guys.”
After a week break following the Alfred State game, Ivy League play opened as Columbia (9-6, 1-0) came to Newman Arena. Cornell made just four of 24 shots in the first half and yet, with stellar team defense, kept the game relatively close, trailing by just 10. The Red shot better in the second half, but the Lions maintained a solid cushion.
In the final 29 seconds, Hatter was fouled behind the arc and made all three free throws. On the ensuing Columbia possession, Hatter stole the ball and sprinted down the court to sink an acrobatic layup to cut the lead to one with 18 seconds to play. Cornell had two more chances later in the game to tie or take the lead, but misfired on both, eventually falling by three. Hatter scored a game high 17 points. Miller had his most inefficient game of the season, missing 10 of 13 shots.
The Red looks to get revenge as it travels to Columbia next week.
Courtney said his squad has had its ups and downs in the non-conference portion of the schedule but believes that the team will begin to hit its stride in conference games.
“We’ve talked about as a group getting better every day. I’m really pleased with this group and the way they’ve come to practice every day,” he said. “I think we are headed in the right direction as we head into Ivy League play.”

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