- The Brown Daily Herald writes, "The back-to-back losses to Yale send Bruno to the Ivy basement to start conference play, but a greatly improved effort in the second game could carry into some important road matchups with Cornell (9-9, 1-1) and Columbia (9-7, 1-1) this weekend."
- The A.P. writes, " with 350 Division I programs as opposed to 30 NBA franchises. What's good for Kentucky isn't necessarily good for Cornell. That difficulty may be amplified at the moment, with 11 years on each of college basketball's two biggest TV contracts."
- The Arizona Star writes, "Cal was starting a transfer from Cornell, Dwight Tarwater, who never averaged more than 7.1 points per game."
- In a late recap of Saturday's action, the Cornell Sun writes:
After losing to Columbia just a week ago, the Cornell men’s basketball team responded with a vengeance, knocking off the Lions, 57-47, Saturday night. While the Red saw its offensive production improve immensely, the team’s ability to play team defense for a full 40 minutes was also crucial for the team’s win.
In last week’s matchup, the Red kept itself in the game by forcing turnovers. However, strong defense was not enough, as Columbia managed to shoot 44 percent from the field, while Cornell only shot 25 percent. That gap in field goal percentage proved to be the deciding factor in the game. In this weekend’s rematch, the Red was unable to force as many turnovers, but nonetheless, was able to keep the Lions from getting easy shots from the outside. This resulted in the Lions shooting 32 percent from the field and just 27 percent in the second half.
“We keep on improving. The adjustments we made on defense were big, and it’s nice to see us making big improvements early in the Ivy League season,” said head coach Bill Courtney.
Saturday also saw improved playing from senior forward Shonn Miller, a player who knows all about individual comebacks. Miller, who was held to just eight points on 3/13 shooting last week, came out firing, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds.
After having to sit out all of last season due to a shoulder injury, Miller has had no trouble easing back into play. He sits in the Top-10 for league scoring (13.0 ppg), rebounding (6.5 rpg), steals (2.5 spg) and blocked shots (2.5 bpg). As guard heavy as the Red is, having a versatile player like Miller is huge. It allows for a balanced defense and a much more structured offensive game plan, as opposed to the typical “run-and-gun” style employed by many guard-heavy teams.
“Shonn has improved each game. From day one, it has been incredible to see the strides he has made, and it is paying off not just for him, but for the whole team,” Courtney said.
Being guard heavy is not a bad thing by any means, especially when the majority of the guards can score consistently. Last week’s matchup saw sophomore Robert Hatter steal the show, scoring seven points in the final minute. This week, senior Galal Cancer stepped up, scoring 16 points on 7/12 shooting. The Red’s balanced offense has been key in the squad’s overall development thus far.
“We are continuing to improve with the players that we have. We know not to be complacent and have made it a point to improve every day going into the height of the league season,” Courtney said.
With the Red heading into the thick of its Ivy League campaign, picking up a win over a quality Columbia team is promising for the squad. With back-to-back home games against Brown and Yale this weekend, the Red is in a good position to make some noise in the early stages of Ancient Eight play.
- From the weekend, the Columbia Spectator writes:
The Lions, in many respects, didn’t play that poorly in their 57-47 loss to Cornell on Saturday. They had a season-high 19 offensive boards, created open looks on offense, and played decent defense.
The problem, rather, was with the ball on the offensive end.
Both head coach Kyle Smith and junior guard Isaac Cohen said that finishing was the team’s main issue. The Lions shot only 33 percent from the field—nearly a season-low—including under 25 percent from downtown.
In fact, only one Columbia player out of seven—Cohen—managed to make over 25 percent of his field goal attempts (minimum three attempts).
“We got 58 shots up tonight. We didn’t make ‘em,” Smith said. “You’ve got to put the ball in the basket.”
While it’s probably reasonable to expect better performances moving forward from all of them, sophomore forwards Chris McComber and Luke Petrasek and senior center Cory Osetkowski haven’t shot particularly well from the field all season.
While Smith has been steadfast in his belief in McComber and Petrasek’s shooting abilities, at this point in the season, each bad performance could be costing Columbia an all-important conference win.
Getting to the line
Cornell joined Kentucky and Connecticut in holding Columbia to under 10 free-throw attempts this season, something which happened only once last season.
A big reason why is injuries. Foul-drawing machine Alex Rosenberg went to the line eight times a game last season and ranked 11th in the country in total free throw attempts, but is sitting out this season with a foot fracture. Junior guard Grant Mullins went to the line 3.7 times per game, but has not played a game yet this season. Without those two, the only Lions who go to the basket and get to the line regularly are junior guard Maodo Lo and first-year guard Kyle Castlin, neither of whom is quite as proficient as Rosenberg or Mullins.
Add it up and a year after ranking 43rd nationally in free throw rate (free throws made divided by field goal attempts), Columbia has fallen to 342nd.
That hurt quite a bit on Saturday considering Cornell’s aggressive defense on Lo. When he saw double teams coming, Lo would often pass the ball or split through, creating a favorable situation for Columbia. But the Lions couldn’t turn those 4-on-3s and 4-on-2s into baskets or trips to the line.
“I thought he [Lo] got it out of there pretty good most of the time. … I thought—he made a couple of drives—I thought we’d get rewarded,” Smith said. “When we drives it … we really need to get to the foul line, make them pay for that.”
While Cornell did have All-Ivy forward Shonn Miller protecting the rim, it doesn’t get much easier for Columbia. Next weekend, the Lions will see Yale forward and potential Ivy Player of the Year Justin Sears and Brown two-time Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Cedric Kuakumensah. Elsewhere, Harvard is a top-10 defensive team according to kenpom.com.
Last season, free throws were Columbia’s safety valve, but that’s no longer the case. With a small margin for error, Columbia will likely need to find something else, and quickly, to challenge for the Ivy crown and a second straight postseason appearance.
- The Ivy League named Shonn Miller to its weekly Honor Roll and notes:
Shonn Miller, Cornell (Sr., F - Euclid, Ohio)
18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks at Columbia
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Week 1, 11/17/14-Shonn Miller, Cornell
Week 2, 11/24/14-Justin Sears, Yale
Week 3, 12/1/14-Wes Saunders, Harvard
Week 4, 12/8/14-Javier Duren, Yale
Week 5, 12/15/14-Cedric Kuakumensah, Brown*
Week 6, 12/22/14-Maodo Lo, Columbia
Week 7,12/29/14-Shonn Miller, Cornell
Week 8, 1/5/15-Javier Duren, Yale
Week 9, 1/12/15-Henry Caruso, Princeton
Week 10, 1/19/15-Javier Duren, Yale
Week 11, 1/26/15-Justin Sears, Yale/Alex Mitola, Dartmouth
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
Week 1, 11/17/14-Antonio Woods, Penn
Week 2, 11/24/14-Mike Auger, Penn
Week 3, 12/1/14-Amir Bell, Princeton
Week 4, 12/8/14-Darnell Foreman, Penn
Week 5, 12/15/14-Sam Jones, Penn*
Week 6, 12/22/14-Kyle Castlin, Columbia
Week 7, 12/30/14-Aaron Young, Princeton
Week 8, 1/5/15-Kyle Castlin, Columbia
Week 9, 1/12/15-Makai Mason, Yale
Week 10, 1/19/15-Antonio Woods, Penn
Week 11, 1/26/15-Aaron Young, Princeton
* = Cornell idle