Game Preview: Cornell at Columbia, Saturday 7PM

Will Cornell be able to contain Brian Barbour and big man Mark Cisco? (Photo Credit: gocolumbialions.com)

For Cornell and Columbia, a 1-3 combined

record vs. Princeton and Penn over a league weekend, historically, is to be expected. In the new era of Ivy League parity though, both New York schools came away from their opening league games somewhat disappointed.

After running off 11 of 12 against the likes of cupcakes Swarthmore and La Sierra, Columbia stumbled into league play at 0-2, dropping the back-to-back home Ivy contests by a combined 6 points. Both games saw last-ditch efforts fall short for the Lions as 25 points was not enough from Brian Barbour on either night.

For the Red, a win to open Ancient Eight play came as a surprise to many. Outsized at nearly every position on the court, Cornell was expected to struggle with rebounding and interior play. A trio of fresh-faced double figure scorers (freshmen Shonn Miller and Galal Cancer, and sophomore Dwight Tarwater) provided enough spark for the Red who turned the ball over just six times and managed to win the battle on the boards for just the second time this year.

On Saturday, Cornell hosted Zack Rosen, Tyler Bernardini and a few other guys dressed in white with blue and red trim. The supporting cast was mostly irrelevant as the pair torched Cornell for the duration of the game. The Red was held under 20% from beyond the arc for the second consecutive game, as Drew Ferry was once again held in check. Only one young guy (Miller tallied a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds) was able to get it going on the offensive end, resulting in a season low 52 points for the Red in the loss.

Matchups to Watch

Drew Ferry vs. the Columbia backcourt

Ferry, the Red’s leading scorer, has not had a double-digit performance against a D-I squad in nearly a month. With attempts, shooting percentage, 3-point percentage and minutes all down over that stretch, Ferry has gone from the focal point of the Red offense to a hindrance at times. His shots last weekend came mostly on inbound plays from the corner (easily sniffed out on both nights) and other set plays (also ineffective).

League foes have managed to hold the explosive scorer in check and Columbia’s ability to follow suit could be the key in this one. With the senior guard producing, Cornell has two go-to scorers and a host of supporting members who can step up. If the Lions” backcourt, who played 35 minutes of lockdown nbso defense versus Penn’s Rosen and holds opponents to a mere 33% from three, can continue the trend, they’ll have a leg up on Saturday.

Mark Cisco vs. the Cornell frontcourt

On Friday night, 6 foot 7 inch, 200 pound Shonn Miller (a natural small forward) saw 15 minutes at the 5. Such is the case when junior forward Eitan Chemerinski gets into foul trouble. Chemerinski played a career high 29 minutes and recorded a personal best 8 rebounds on Saturday, but take production against the Penn frontcourt with a grain of salt. At 245 pounds, Cisco outweighs any regular in the Red rotation by 30 pounds, and has the potential to cause problems in the post against the thin Red frontcourt. He’s gone for at least 12 points in each of his last three games and could continue the run against this undersized group from Ithaca. Expect Barbour to score in bunches, but if he doesn’t get help from the interior, Cornell may be able to weather the storm.

Prediction

Neither team can establish much of a flow throughout this one, which turns ugly at times. Cornell again lacks the ability to defend an elite point guard as Barbour manages to go for 20 once more. A week off for both squads gives Coach Courtney and the Red staff time to draw up a few more plays for Ferry, who manages to find a rhythm in his favorite Ivy gym. He

connected on a career high seven longballs at Levien last season, and although he doesn’t quite make that mark, he does enough to make Cornell multi-dimensional once again. Chemerinski takes the momentum from last Saturday into this one and holds Cisco in check to some extent. Columbia loses yet another close one at home and falls even further into the Ancient Eight cellar as Cornell’s hopes of affecting the title race remain dimly lit. The Red return to Ithaca with a 63-59 victory.

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