Saturday, December 19, 2015

News and Notes: Saturday Game Day Edition

Below, news and notes...





  • Speaking of memories, Harvard Magazine remembers Cornell's 2010 visit to Kansas.
  • The Cornell Daily Sun posted a recap of the Big Red's last outting, a win over Lafayette.
This looks like as good a chance as any for the Cornell University men’s basketball team to pay the Orange back for the drubbings of seasons past.
The Big Red have not had much luck in the Carrier Dome, but at noon on Saturday they’ll face a more vulnerable Syracuse University squad than those of recent vintage. Syracuse is coming off of a 12-points loss to St. John's, and its Hall of Fame head coach Jim Boeheim will miss his fourth straight game as he serves a nine-game NCAA-imposed suspension for failure to monitor the men’s basketball program.
While the Big Red (5-4) must shake off the rust and cobwebs associated with a two-week hiatus due to final exams, Syracuse (7-3) has to try to shake off three losses in its past four games.
“I feel like we have an opportunity to beat them this year,” Cornell junior Robert Hatter said. “My junior class, we’ve played them two times. I think this shot is a great shot. It may be our best shot to get at them, so we’re going to do everything we can to make it happen.”
Hatter, a 6-foot-2 bespectacled point guard, enters this weekend averaging 19.6 points per game (38t h in NCAA Div. I) to go along with 4.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game.
His ability to dissect the vaunted Syracuse zone defense and push the right buttons will go a long way toward the Big Red’s bid to beat Syracuse for the first time since Dec. 4, 1968, and beat an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent for the first time since Dec. 27, 1951.
Hatter also knows his teams best chance will be with him pushing the pace in order to find easy baskets in transition.
“I realized that teams that try to play fast against them, they kind of struggle a little bit,” Hatter said. “I think that’s what we are good at, and I feel like that’s what we’re going to try do. We’re going to try to push it at them and not let them try to set that zone up so we can get quick points and get the game going fast the way we want to play.”
Freshman guard Matt Morgan jumped right into the starting lineup and provided a scoring punch. He has averaged 14.4 points per game, and knocked down 19 3-pointers in nine games. He has played the point guard spot as well as shooting guard.
Junior guard Darryl Smith also figures to play a prominent role in the Big Red’s offensive success against the Syracuse zone. Smith has gotten off to the most efficient start of his collegiate career. He enters the game averaging 9.9 points per game, and making an eye-popping 64 percent of his shots from the floor, including 7 of 12 3-pointers.
“I think it’s just experience for me,” Smith said of his hot start. “I’ve been here for three years. I’ve finally found the spots on the floor that I feel most comfortable, the positions on the court where I can make a jump shot or anything like that. I’m just finding my open shots and opportunities to score and help the team out.”
Two years ago in the Big Red season opener in the Carrier Dome, the visitors took a six-point lead into halftime against an eventual 28-win Syracuse team. Syracuse made a blistering second-half push that resulted in an 82-60 win over the Big Red.
Last season, the Orange held the Big Red to 44 points in a 61-44 win. The Big Red scored only two points in the first 14 minutes and shot 20 percent from the floor in the first half.
The Orange defense still makes it tough on opposing players. Opponents have shot just 38 percent overall from the floor, and 30 percent on 3-pointers. The Orange create a wealth of turnovers (8.7 steals per game).
“Last year, we couldn’t make shots,” Big Red coach Bill Courtney said. “Even if we got it inside the zone, we were kicking it out for open shots we wouldn’t make. But we have a few more guys that can make threes, and I think we have several guys that can — if we can get it to them in the paint area — can make plays. I think we are a little bit more prepared. The ideal thing is to beat the zone up the floor and not have to face it.”
Sustaining offense has been a struggle for the Orange. While Michael Gbinije enters the weekend averaging 19.7 points per game, the team ranks 13th out of 15 teams in the ACC in scoring (71.8 ppg) and last in field goal percentage (41.6 percent).
The Orange has relied heavily on 3-point shooting (253 of 558 field goal attempts). However, the team went 5-for-26 from long range in Sunday’s loss to St. John’s.
  • From the Chicago Tribune, A Chicago prep player is trying to academically improve his profile so that he can play for Cornell.

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