On Saturday, Cornell’s Board of Trustees held a controversial vote to establish a new College of Business by merging its School of Hotel Administration, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Johnson Graduate School of Management. Many students, alumni and faculty are upset at the Board and new President Elizabeth Garrett for pushing this College through without any input from the greater Cornell community. On Tuesday and Wednesday, President Garrett will be meeting with students and faculty to discuss this important development. Given how well the Big Red men’s basketball team performed this weekend, the President may want to quickly befriend Matt Morgan and have him stand beside her.
A longtime friend of IHO, Rob Browne has agreed to join the site as a contributor focused on Cornell, a team poised to pull off a key upset or two during Ivy play. Here’s Rob’s in-depth look at the state of the Big Red:
Although picked last in the preseason Ivy League poll and having an initial KenPom raking of 311, Cornell has started the season 7-9 (0-2 Ivy) and finds itself with a current ranking of 232. While its most lopsided victory was against Division III Penn State Harrisburg, the Big Red scored decisive victories at home against Binghamton (No. 333) and Lafayette (No. 321). They had several close wins against Howard, (No. 269), Colgate (No. 209), St. Peter’s (No. 178) and Siena ( No. 109).
Columbia 79, Cornell 68
Cornell’s gameplan was sound: Don’t sag in too much responding to Columbia interior attacks and try to disrupt the Lions with physicality on the perimeter. Cornell’s gameplan didn’t matter.
Columbia shot 13-for-24 (54.2 percent) from beyond the arc to pull away in the second half. A trio of Lions – Luke Petrasek, Maodo Lo and C.J. Davis – hit at least three treys, enough to make up for several bunnies missed inside and playing at a faster pace than coach Kyle Smith probably wanted. Cornell missed Robert Hatter for the second game in this series but benefited from freshman guard Matt Morgan’s 26 points on 9-for-23 shooting. For more on the game, read our Ian Wenik’s instant analysis.
This time around, the biggest source of drama in Columbia’s rematch with Cornell was the open question of how the Lions would be able to safely return to Manhattan following a 79-68 victory. The three-point shooting of Columbia (13-6, 2-0 Ivy) kept Cornell (7-9, 0-2) safely at arm’s length throughout the second half.
Turning point: This game was close at halftime, as Columbia only held a 36-33 lead heading into the break. In the second half, though, the Lions took advantage of their biggest strength to open up a big lead they wouldn’t give up.
Luke Petrasek, Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg all hit three-pointers in the first 3:27 of the second half, pushing the Lions’ lead to 11 points. Cornell never seriously threatened after that burst.
Yale 77, Brown 68
As it did last season, Brown gave Yale a scare in New Haven, but not a loss.
Late free throws by Makai Mason and Jack Montague iced the game for the Elis, and Mason led Yale with 20 points in 32 minutes. Brown overcame an early 21-4 deficit to cut Yale’s lead to 37-31 at halftime. Cedric Kuakumensah, Tavon Blackmon and JR Hobbie combined for 50 of Brown’s 68 points and 15 of its 20 field goals. Brown and Yale combined for 49 fouls and 36 turnovers in what turned out to be a sloppy game.
Columbia opened up Ivy play the best way it possibly could have — by closing out a tough opponent in a close game. Cornell fought back from an 11-point deficit in the final four minutes, but the Lions made the free throws they needed to and held on, 74-70.
Turning point: After Matt Morgan hit a three-pointer from the right wing to draw Cornell within two, 71-69, with 16.2 seconds remaining, the Big Red knew they needed to rely on their press to have a realistic shot at winning.
They nearly got one.
IHO takes a closer look at Saturday’s two Ivy conference matchups.
Brown at Yale, 5 p.m.
Last season: Then-senior guard Javier Duren canned a jumper with 3.4 seconds remaining to break a 65-65 tie and help ensure a Bulldogs victory. Yale’s 69-65 win completed a sweep of Brown, and the Elis took the lead for good with 12:28 to go in the game after Brown had led 31-25 at halftime. Justin Sears and Duren scored 27 and 24 points respectively, combining for 15 of Yale’s 20 field goals. Brown got a more balanced scoring attack, with Rafael Maia, Steven Spieth and Tavon Blackmon combining for 50 of Brown’s 65 points just five days before it Leland King’s departure from the Brown basketball program was announced. (King played only in the first matchup of this series in Providence last season, his final game as a Bear.)
Cornell will play its first game in two weeks when it visits Syracuse Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. To get us prepped for the game, we sat down with our friend Wes Cheng over at The Juice Online to get an Orange scouting report for the upcoming game. Also check out IHO’s Cornell scouting report for this matchup at The Juice Online.
Ivy Hoops Online: Tell us about The Juice Online.
The Juice Online: The Juice (then called The Big Orange) was founded in 1992, one of approximately 50 independent publications devoted to the coverage of its school’s athletics programs. In 2002, it became a full-color, glossy magazine which was owned by Fox Sports. The print product ceased publication in June of 2010 and was relaunched as The Juice Online in December of 2010. In February 2012, The Juice Online partnered with SportsNet New York, the official television home of the New York Mets and New York Jets. As part of SNY.tv’s Blog Network, The Juice Online supplements SNY’s coverage of more than 125 college football and basketball games, as well as other college sports programming.
IHO: What are the major story lines with Syracuse?
What a turnaround. Cornell held serve to improve to 3-0 at home (4-4 overall) in dramatic fashion, overcoming a 14-point second-half deficit and a 55-43 hole with 11:52 remaining. How? Two words: Robert. Hatter.
The junior guard scored 25 of Cornell”s 40 points in the final 15:32 (and 32 on the night, thanks in part to 4-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc). One thing has always been true about Hatter: When he”s on, he”s really on.
Another promising development for Cardiac Cornell, which is 2-1 in games decided by three points or less this season after being projected casino to finish last in the Ivy League, is junior center David Onuorah”s play tonight. Onuorah posted nine points, nine rebounds and three blocks in 36 minutes, allowing Cornell to, for once, hold its own on the boards and actually execute within a frenetic tempo. Good stuff for Cornell against a squad 153 slots above it in the KenPom standings, and a trend that must continue from Onuorah if this undersized frontcourt is to do damage come Ivy play.
This year”s 2015-16 Cornell season preview comes from Barry Leonard, who is looking forward to his 24th year providing top-notch radio broadcasting of Big Red hoops.
As he enters year number six as the head coach of Cornell basketball, Bill Courtney will embrace the phrase “Youth must be served.”