By Sam Aleinikoff & Jake Mastbaum
Game 5: Cornell (2-2) vs Delaware (0-2) – Tuesday, November 22 – Bob Carpenter Center Acierno Arena
On the heels of an impressive victory over American East-favorite Boston University, Cornell hits the road in search of a winning record for the first time in nearly a year. The Red was last above .500 following a win over the same Delaware squad that it travels to play on Tuesday. With a newly developed, and largely unexpected interior threat in the duo of Eitan Chemerinski and Josh Figini, Cornell hopes that balance in the scoring column will keep the group on the winning path against the Blue Hens.
The Blue Hens look to be at full strength Tuesday night. Freshman Kyle Anderson and Jarvis Threatt each went down for stretches on Friday night at Villanova but are expected to play. Their ability to bounce back will play a major factor in Delaware picking up its first W of the season.
Last Head-to-Head Matchup
Cornell vs Delaware – November 17, 2010 – Newman Arena
A lot going on that night for the Big Red. Newman Arena sees its first game action of the season. Chris Wroblewski sees the court for the first time after missing the first two with a high ankle sprain. A Sweet 16 banner sees an Ivy League gym for the first time since 1979.
With all the anticipation, Cornell did not disappoint. Behind a solid defensive performance and a balanced scoring attack, the Big Red took down CAA foe, Delaware, 75-61. Wroblewski and Max Groebe led the way with 13 a piece. Anthony Gatlin added 12, while Aaron Osgood and Drew Ferry chipped in 9 each.
Last Time Out
After a tough loss to Buffalo, Cornell returned to the friendly confines of Newman Arena where it had won five of its last seven. After falling into a quick 7-0 deficit, Drew Ferry got the Red going, scoring the first nine Cornell points of the game. The Ferry 3-point barrage sparked a 20-0 Cornell run and led the Red to a nine-point lead at the break.
The story in this one was the Cornell front-court. The duo of Eitan Chemerinski and Josh Figini combined for 40 minutes, 21 points, and 8 rebounds. BU, under former Columbia Head Coach and Boston College Assistant Joe Jones, gave the Red a fight down the stretch, but Cornell rode Eitan’s coattails to a much needed 71-66 victory.
Trailing 38-24 to Big East power Villanova at the break, Delaware opened the second stanza on a 16-4 tear to pull within four points. A career high 27 points from Devon Saddler and double figure efforts from freshmen Kyle Anderson and Jarvis Threatt didn’t provide enough firepower to pull the upset though, as Delaware fell to 0-2 on the year.
Keys to The Game
Five Cornell players have averaged between 8 and 12 points per game over the course of the first four contests. While no individual has emerged as a standout offensive weapon this year, a handful of players can score for the Red. Balance is difficult to guard and if Cornell can continue to produce from the backcourt, frontcourt and wings, expect the wins to pile up.
Turning Defense into Offense
The Red forced 20 turnovers at Buffalo by way of 14 steals but only came away with 12 points to show for it. Against BU, 16 turnovers turned into 23 Cornell points. The Red will likely get out rebounded (they currently are at a margin of -7 per game) and fewer rebounds means fewer scoring opportunities. When Cornell is able to create an opportunity for itself, the Big Red must capitalize.
Keeping The Guards Fresh
Delaware will go as far as Devon Saddler takes them this season. The reigning CAA Rookie of the Year paces the Blue Hens with 22.5 points per game. More telling is that Saddler plays close to 38 minutes per game. There’s nothing new about big time players playing big time minutes, but considering the way Cornell is built, Saddler’s legs could become a concern. The Red, a team that at times this season has looked better in transition then in half-court sets, will run with the best of them. Despite a slew of injuries, Cornell always has a fresh guard waiting on the bench, itching to get on the court and carve out a spot in Bill Courtney’s rotation. Delaware cannot allow Cornell’s fresh legs to wear out its star guard. Tired legs equate to bad shots, and Saddler is not averse to hoisting it up. The way Delaware head coach Monte Ross manages the sophomore could be the difference Tuesday night.
As much as Eitan Chemerinki and Josh Figini’s play has been lauded in the early going, the Big Red still have some rebounding deficiencies. It is Chris Wroblewski (5.3 rpg) and Shonn Miller (5.0 rpg), not the bigs, leading the way in the rebounding department for the Red. Jamelle Haggins is an excellent rebounder for the Blue Hens and has the ability to create some second chance looks for Delaware. His squad will need to take advantage of the extra opportunities on Tuesday.
Players to Watch
I’m flat out excited to watch Eitan play. Every game this season, we’ve seen Eitan’s minutes increase, a direct result of him looking more comfortable on the court. A true back-to-the-basket post player, Chemerinski has proven he can be an offensive threat, and at times this season has been Cornell’s biggest offensive weapon. However, there is still room for improvement. Against Boston University, Chemerinski turned the ball over 6 times in 28 minutes. Look for Chemerinski to take another step forward Tuesday night.
Early in his freshman campaign, Saddler put up 15 points vs. the Red. With another year of experience under his belt, Saddler has become a game changing guard. He is, however, a high volume shooter. Over the first two games, the sophomore has taken 41% of Blue Hen shots but has accounted for less than 37% of Delaware’s scoring. Inefficient from beyond the arc, Saddler has connected on less than 28% of his 18 three-point attempts.
At 6 ft. 9 inches and 240 pounds, Haggins has the size to cause matchup problems in the post. A year ago he posted 14 points, 7 boards and 6 blocks in Ithaca. As a sophomore, he was among the nation’s leading post defenders, averaging 3 swats per contest. The Blue Hens will rely on his presence to limit Cornell’s emerging options in the lane.
G – Chris Wroblewski
G – Drew Ferry
G – Jonny Gray
F – Dwight Tarwater
C – Eitan Chemerinski
G – Devon Saddler
G – Jarvis Threatt
G – Khalid Lewis
F – Jamelle Hagins
F – Josh Brinkley
This is going to be your typical back-and-forth first half that we’ve seen a lot of from Cornell in the Bill Courtney era. Delaware takes a slight lead into the locker room at the half behind a balanced scoring attack led by Saddler. Second half, Cornell makes its move. The aggressiveness of freshmen Galal Cancer and Shonn Miller draws Jamelle Haggins into foul trouble. With the Blue Hen’s best big on the bench, Eitan Chemerinski goes to work. 30+ minutes for Eitan. A career high 16 points. The Big Red pick up its first road win of the season.