Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Cornell progresses through offensive struggles

February 4, 2012 Columns No Comments
cornell

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A road win continues to elude Cornell this season, the latest being a 71-60 setback at Ivy League-leading Harvard on Friday night. It was a game that looked like a microcosm of the team’s season in several respects.

Cornell has struggled offensively all year, and that’s the clearest indication that this isn’t the Big Red of a couple of years ago. That was abundantly clear in the first half on Friday, as they struggled to get anything going and committed several turnovers that were of the costly variety. They weren’t much better in the second half, as their better shooting percentage was masked by more turnovers as well as a few baskets with the outcome not in doubt that made the score closer than it looked.

“We tried to score in transition before the halfcourt defense could get set up,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “It is a problem that we don’t make shots. We know that the way this team is built, if we don’t make shots, we’re going to be in trouble a lot of nights.”

The Big Red haven’t run bad offense, and the feeling is that they have been able to get good shots often. But they have had trouble getting the ball in the basket, as they shoot less than 41 percent on the season and less than 33 percent from deep. Turnovers haven’t been as big a problem, but they were on Friday night and Harvard made them pay for it.

Even with the offensive struggles, the Big Red’s defense has helped keep them in games. The Big Red allow opponents to shoot less than 41 percent from the floor, which is good for third in the Ivy League, and they force a league-high 16 turnovers per game. They defend the three-point line better than any other Ivy League team. The down side at that end is fouling: the Big Red average over 20 fouls per game and allow teams to get to the line more than 23 times per game. That was a big part of how Harvard grabbed the lead in the first half, as the Crimson went 15-18 from the line (they were 29-34 from the line for the game). But when Cornell got them in the halfcourt and didn’t foul, they were often effective.

Cornell has lost only three games by double digits this season, and four losses have been by five points or less. The inability to pull out close games plagued last year’s team, and while this year’s team hasn’t been much better, that isn’t as big an issue this time around. Perhaps the best sign of how competitive this team has been is that during a tough four-game road stretch to close out December, the Big Red lost all four games by single digits, including two by less than five and one in overtime.

“The teams we’ve played on the road are very good,” said Courtney, now in his second season leading the program. “A lot of the times, we’ve given ourselves a chance to win, and when you’re playing a good team on the road, that’s all you can ask for.”

There is some good young talent on this team, and that tends to be what a team looks like in year two of a coaching staff. The Big Red have six freshmen and five sophomores, four of whom have played significant minutes thus far. A couple of their underclassmen have had more limited action or none at all due to injury, and that has also been the case for their most talented player, junior Errick Peck. Peck will redshirt due to a knee injury and come back for two more years, which means they can really build with this core. Peck had a breakout season a year ago with a larger role, and looked ready to contend for all-league honors this season.

Shonn Miller has started 13 games thus far for the Big Red and shown the most promise of the freshmen. He has won the league’s Rookie of the Week four times this season and is third on the team in scoring and leads in rebounding and blocked shots.

“Shonn just adds a different dimension as far as athleticism and altering shots on the defensive end,” said senior guard Chris Wroblewski.

Wroblewski is a key holdover from the championship days, having played a key role on those teams in his first two seasons. With that, it’s fair to say he knows a little about winning. That’s why it’s no surprise that Courtney singled him out in particular for the leadership on the team, especially with the young talent he has and while Wroblewski has had a tough season shooting the ball.

“Chris Wroblewski has done an incredible job of leadership,” said Courtney. “Even when he was playing bad and wasn’t making shots, he was being a great leader and really bringing this team together.”

Cornell has already shown they can be a factor in the Ivy League. The Big Red are unlikely to contend for the title this season, but they are 7-2 at home including a win over Princeton. But Courtney can see this team moving in a positive direction, and you get the feeling that if they get that first road win, it might spur them on to more. As it is, they are likely to be one of those proverbial “teams no one wants to see” down the stretch at home.

Comment on this Article:







Advertisement

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Your Phil of Hoops

Saturday Notes – January 24, 2015

January 25, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

This Saturday didn’t have quite the marquee matchups as a week earlier, but there were some important ones, especially with teams in the middle of a few conferences trying to separate themselves from the pack.

Saturday notes – January 17, 2015

January 18, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

High school games may have grabbed a lot of attention, but there were plenty of college games as well. Most results weren’t surprising, but were well worth looking at some notes on, and we do that here.

Rhode Island keeping perspective after tough loss

January 15, 2015 by

rhodeisland

Rhode Island controlled Tuesday night’s game against VCU, but couldn’t finish it and took a tough loss. Their improvement is evident, though, and they are keeping perspective on that in trying to keep improving.

Hoopville Archives

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2015 Boston Winter Invitational: What to expect

January 23, 2015 by

hoopguy-divisionII

The Boston Winter Invitational is coming up on Sunday at UMass-Boston. Here is a look at some of what to expect in the four prep school games that are on the schedule.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Monday notes

January 21, 2015 by

hoophall

Monday was the big day despite having just five games, as all were big matchups and most were nationally televised. There was plenty of talent in these games, and some big names played well.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Sunday notes

January 19, 2015 by

hoophall

It was a bad weather day outside, but fortunately we play the games indoors. Prep schools took center stage on a busy Sunday with some good talent and good games all the way to the end.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Saturday notes

January 18, 2015 by

hoophall

The Spalding Hoophall Classic picked up on Saturday, with a few good games, a couple of blowouts, then the best game of the day at the end. There was also plenty of good talent in each game.

2015 Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic – Sunday notes

January 14, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

Sunday was the day for a trip a little down the road from Saturday’s destination to check out some prep school action. We take a look at some notes from the day’s games in the Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic.

2014 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.