This preseason, Ivy Hoops Online will be running in-depth roster previews of all eight Ivy teams. We start with the squad projected to finish last in the conference this season, Cornell.
Is the glass half empty or half full?
Well, let’s start with half full. Braxton Bunce, Galal Cancer and 2012-13 first-team All-Ivy Shonn Miller return after missing all of last season, and Deion Giddens returns after missing most of last year as well. There’s presumably nowhere to go but up from 2-26, and sophomores like Darryl Smith and Robert Hatter will be well-seasoned after getting pressed into action early and often as rookies a year ago.
And now for half empty: Shonn Miller is this team, plain and simple. Last season proved that. If he’s not completely healthy for the entire season and firing on all cylinders from the get-go, forget it. This conference is too deep this year for Cornell to win games on the strength of just one player. Miller aside, what else ya got, Big Red? Galal Cancer running the point? He may be a solid slasher, but he’s no asset from the field, shooting just 35.4 percent from the field for his career after taking last season off to focus on regular student life. Three of Cornell’s top six scorers are gone, with 2013-14 leading scorer Nolan Cressler peacing out to transfer to Vanderbilt. This team was absolutely pathetic for pretty much all of last season, looking no more accomplished than a high school squad at times.
Bill Courtney seemed especially optimistic at the Ivy preseason media teleconference last week, because of course he did. It’s his job to generate excitement for a program that has been slipping away ever since he took over in 2010. Courtney’s most important observation at the teleconference was that the Big Red will have to hit the ground running to start their schedule, which includes eight games in 16 days. We’ll know what this team is made of soon. Without further ado, the rundown:
#0 – David Onuorah – Forward – 6-9, 230 So.
This big man easily led Cornell in shots blocked a year ago and is likely to have developed his inside game substantially in the offseason. But he’ll have to step up his rebounding game a little more to give this team some extra oomph in the paint while also cutting down on fouls – he averaged more than three fouls in just 18.4 minutes per contest a season ago.
#1 – Darryl Smith – Guard – 6-2, 180 So.
Still sitting pretty on that $16.1 million contract. Oh wait, not that Daryl Smith. Cornell’s Smith was a spark plug as conference play commenced last season, earning Ivy Rookie of the Week honors for his energetic defense and impressive 32-minute effort at Columbia. Needs to improve his assist-to-turnover ratio in the backcourt. Will likely be trusted early on in a three-guard rotation with Pat Smith and Devin Cherry.
#3 – Galal Cancer – Guard – 6-2, 180 Sr.
Not much to add on Cancer other than that he needs to improve his offensive decision-making at times. Too athletic not to keep defenses fixated on Miller honest.
#4 – Dave LaMore – Forward/Center – 6-9, 225 Sr.
Look at LaMore’s glasses in his official headcut. Just look at them. My elementary school library teacher had specs just like those.
#5 – Robert Hatter – Guard – 6-2, 180 So.
I like Robert Hatter’s glasses better. I like his game better too. Cornell’s third-leading scorer as a freshman last year, Hatter is a threat from anywhere but the foul line, where he shot just 46.3 percent a season ago. Watch Hatter play off the ball and you’ll see why he’s one of Cornell’s few legitimate offensive weapons besides Miller on this roster.
#11 – Desmond Fleming – Guard – 5-11, 180 So.
Don’t expect to see much of Mr. Fleming this season. There are an awful lot of 180-pound gentlemen on this team.
#12 – Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof – Forward – 6-7, 205 Fr.
I don’t have a great feel for what we can expect from Abdur-Ra’oof yet, and it’s likely Courtney doesn’t either. His athleticism easily puts him in the offensive mix, though.
#13 – Devin Cherry – Guard – 6-3, 185 – Sr.
Without Devin Cherry, Cornell’s 2013-14 season really could have been a disaster. Joking aside, Cherry stepped up in a big way, ranking fifth in the conference in assists and somehow finishing second on the team in rebounding. He looked more comfortable as the season progressed too, which bodes well for any possible resurrection of Bill Courtney’s coaching career.
#15 – Braxston Bunce – Center – 6-11, 250 – Jr.
Injuries have sadly defined Bunce’s career up to this point, as he sat out his entire freshman season before missing 19 of 28 games last year. Let’s just hope he can stay healthy.
#20 – Wil Bathurst – Guard/Forward – 6-3, 180 – Fr.
The pride of Western New York, Bathurst may or may not complement Cancer at the two spot this year, depending on whether he can develop a cleaner shot.
#21 – Kyle Brown – Guard – 6-2, 180 – Fr.
Seriously, how many 6-2/6-3, 180 guys are there on this roster? Courtney definitely has a “type.”
#22 – Robert Mischler – Guard – 6-3, 183 – Jr.
Mischler showed little promise in his limited action as a sophomore and isn’t likely to make too many waves as a junior either.
#24 – Pat Smith – Guard/Forward – 6-5, 195 – Fr.
Smith was quite the sharpshooter at Archbishop Wood Catholic, shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc and showing solid offensive efficiency everywhere on the floor. The most indelible freshman impact on this team in 2014-15 is likely to be Smith’s.
#25 – JoJo Fallas – Guard – 5-11, 175 – So.
I’ll go to bat for anybody named JoJo. Undersized and somewhat limited offensively, JoJo will keep doing JoJo, and that should be good enough for anybody.
#32 – Shonn Miller – Forward – 6-7, 210 – Sr.
The man himself. Offseason shoulder energy wiped out his 2013-14 campaign, but before that, Miller was a long, strong force to be reckoned with, finishing first in the league in defensive rebounding, second in steals and third in blocks as a sophomore. There’s very little Miller can’t do extremely well. He scores, he rebounds, he blocks, he steals. He just changes games. And he could change the complexion of this program with a career year very shortly. Then again, he’s the one with the massive target on his back too, the focal point of every opponent. He’s healthy, but he’s not God. He needs help at both ends of the floor for Cornell to turn heads this season.
#35 – Nenad Tomic – Forward – 6-7, 220 – Sr.
Affectionately known as “Ned,” Tomic averaged 8.3 minutes per game a season ago and isn’t likely to eclipse that consistently this season.
#50 – Deion Giddens – Forward/Center – 6-9, 202 – Sr.
A knee injury cut his junior campaign short a year ago, which was a shame because Giddens had momentum. He was making the most of his 14.5 minutes per contest, proving himself as an offensive weapon down low. He’ll be just that again this season.
Check back tomorrow for our 2014-15 Penn roster preview.