Checking in with Cornell men’s basketball

Record: 5-7 (3-1 Home; 2-6 Away) and Rankings: KenPom No. 244 and TeamRankings No. 256

What’s Hot:
Matt Morgan and Stone Gettings

After being named to the conference’s second team in his first two seasons, Morgan is making a run, not only at the league’s first team but an Ivy Player of the Year award.  After 12 games, the sharp shooting guard is first in the conference and second in the nation with 25.3 points per game.  He currently has a streak of 35 straight double-figure scoring games, which broke school’s 62 year old record.  He also in the midst of a school record 11-game 20-plus scoring streak.  With Morgan’s interest in joining the NBA, Big Red fans will have to hope that he does not follow Evan Boudreaux’s lead and skip his senior year to keep become a graduate transfer at a high-major program.

Gettings started slowly due to his recovery from a minor preseason injury, returning to the starting lineup in game number five.  Building on a sophomore season where he was one of the Ivy League’s most improved players, he is averaging 15.9 points a game on 50 percent shooting and has cut down his turnovers from 2.9 to 1.8 per game.  The highlight of his season was a 39-point performance (3rd highest in Cornell history) at Delaware on Dec. 28.

What’s Not:
Defense and Injuries

The Big Red are struggling on the defensive side of the ball, giving up 81.7 points per game, last in the Ivies and bottom 50 nationally.  Its opponents are feasting from the outside, making 9.0 three-pointers a game on 38.2 percent shooting.  There is also little pressure with the team causing only 4.4 steals (bottom 30 nationally) and 10.5 turnovers (bottom 20 nationally) a game.

Without an experienced true point guard, Cornell started the season with guard-forward Wil Bathurst running the offense.  Bathurst has averaged 3.1 assists and 1.9 turnovers but has been out the last five games and there is no announced return date.  Bathurst’s backup, first-year Terrance McBride, started against Longwood and Lafayette, but missed the next two games to injury.  Fortunately, he came off the bench in the team’s most recent game at Auburn.  The Big Red are now being led by a third-string guard, junior Joel Davis, whose only previous start was on Jan. 23, 2016 against Columbia.  Junior guard Troy Whiteside, who was expected to play a big role this season after starting 23 games in 2016-17, has missed all 12 games due to an injury.

What’s Meh:
New Players

Cornell brought in a large six person class for the 2017-18 season, five first-years and a junior college transfer.  Steven Julian from Kaskaskia College has been an excellent addition, starting all 12 games at small forward, leading the league with 1.8 blocks per game and placing second in rebounds with 7.0 per game.  In his growing point guard role, McBride has shown promise as the team’s best on-ball defender and a 2.8 assist/turnover ratio.  Forward Jimmy Boeheim started the first three game of the season, but has only averaged 2.4 points on 25 percent and 11 percent three-point shooting.  Jake Kuhn (3.4 points), Bryan Knapp (3.0 points), and Riley Voss (0.7 points) have had limited success in the early parts of the year.

What’s Next:

The Big Red host Division III Central Pennsylvania College on Jan. 5 before hitting the road for the beginning of the Ivy schedule.  Cornell will visit Penn on the 12th, Princeton on the 13th and Columbia on the 20th, before welcoming its Empire State rivals to Newman Arena on the 27th.

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