Piece by Piece, Cornell Slowly Putting It Together

Coach Bill Courtney has to be pleased with what he has seen from his previously unproven squad. The Big Red are 3-4 with a couple of nice wins heading into the Finals layoff. (Photo Credit: syracuse.com)

“We’re building something here. We’re building it from scratch. All the pieces matter,” Lester Freamon proclaimed to Prez in HBO’s hit series, The Wire. “All the pieces matter,” a simple adage, rings true with what Head Coach Bill Courtney is trying to accomplish with his young team; a team that builds, day by day, game by game. The 13-day intermission between Cornell’s win over Lehigh and its matchup with Albany on Friday night comes at the perfect time. Courtney has a chance to slow down, take a step back and use what he has learned over the team’s first seven games to grow.

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Dartmouth is the Harvard of A Cappella, Not Basketball

Gabas Muldunas has been a bright spot in Dartmouth's 2-5 start to the season. (Photo credit: dartmouthsports.com)

The second-place finish of the Dartmouth Aires on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” will likely be the competitive highpoint of the winter for the Big Green. Women’s basketball, women’s hockey, and men’s hockey are already craning their necks to view the top of their respective standings (non-conference and conference alike). Not surprisingly, men’s basketball is in the same boat.

The problems are familiar for this Dartmouth squad. The team is posting an offensive rating of just 89.0 (322nd out of 345 teams), which, incredibly, is a slight improvement over last season. The defense is vastly better but still below average, with a rating of 102.0 (a 6.3 point improvement over last season).

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Red Hot Lions Win Thriller over Holy Cross

Columbia's Mark Cisco was too much to handle for Holy Cross down the stretch in the Lions' 46-45 victory. The senior hit the game-winning free throw with just 2.4 seconds remaining. (Photo Credit: gocolumbialions.com)

For the first twenty minutes tonight, Columbia’s offense struggled to create open looks against an energized and determined Holy Cross team. Down 30-14 at halftime, the Lions looked lost and exhausted. And it was completely understandable. No one in the 539 people order diflucan in attendance would have faulted Columbia if the Lions had come back out in the second half and lost by 10 or 15 points. After all, this was their fourth game in five days. Coach Smith’s bunch had just knocked off five opponents in a row, including three in three days on a West Coast trip to Los Angeles. They had no legs in the first half, as evidenced by the 5-21 shooting effort that had yielded them 14 points, led by big man Mark Cisco’s whopping four.

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Breaking News: Brown's Halpern Applying for Medical Redshirt; Out for Season

Tucker Halpern, Brown's leading scorer and All-Ivy Honorable Mention selection in 2010-11, will not play this season according to sources within the program. Halpern, who has been sidelined with a debilitating bout of mono since the preseason, is in the process of applying to retain a year of eligibility, meaning he would return in 2012-13 as a junior with two years of eligibility remaining.

While relatively rare in cheap clomid the Ivy League, medical redshirts have been obtained by a few active Ivy players who experienced similar illness or injury. Penn's Tyler Bernardini successfully retained a year of eligibility after he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot after the Quakers' second game of his junior year. Cornell's Dwight Tarwater missed his freshman season last year due to mono, but retained four years of eligibility, as did the Big Red's Dominic Scelfo due to a knee injury last season.

In the short-term, this is more bad news for the Bears. Earlier in the season, freshman Rafael Maia was declared ineligible by the NCAA for the 2011-12 season.

Brown takes on Providence College tonight at 7:00 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.

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Tweet of the Week

In this series, we examine the wisest, most insightful, and profound Twitter musings of our favorite Ivy scholars who also happen to play basketball.

After a monumental win, you’d forgive a player for experiencing a range of emotions. Sometimes the mood is joyous and proud; other times it’s tired and reflective. Rarely, if ever, is it indignant. But Harvard forward Kyle Casey blazed a new trail with this reaction after the Crimson beat No. 20/22 Florida St. last week:

After two games’ worth of commentary extolling the virtue of Harvard’s unselfish, team-first approach, the irony of Casey’s tweet was rich and delicious. I laughed out loud because it so flagrantly violated the expectations of the moment. I wasn’t alone in my surprise either, as I received an email just minutes after the post with the subject heading, “what a dick”. But such a public display of egotism is so easy to criticize that I’d rather explore what’s praiseworthy about it.

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Game Preview: Lehigh at Cornell

Cornell will need Chemerinski to stay out of foul trouble if it hopes to hang with the red hot Mountain Hawks, led by CJ McCollum. (Photo credit: cornellbigred.com)

Cornell will try to shake off its first home loss of the season and enter the exam break on a positive note as the Big Red welcomes its second straight Patriot League opponent to Newman Arena on Saturday. The task doesn’t get any easier: Lehigh comes to town as hot as any team in the country. The Mountain Hawks are riding their best start in 31 seasons. Since dropping its first two contests against BCS competition, Lehigh has been perfect, winning six consecutive games by ten or more. Cornell will have its hands full with junior guard CJ McCollum who has been the elite player in the Patriot League since he arrived in Bethlehem a little over two years ago.

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Bad News Bears

Coach Jesse Agel can't be pleased with the way the Bears have started this season. (Photo Credit: brownbears.com)

Okay Brown fans, I have avoided this for too long. I tried to hold off writing about the Bears until there was something encouraging to say. It’s certainly been a tough opening month in Providence after boundless optimism ran wild this summer. This seemed like it would be the season Coach Jesse Agel’s squad turned the corner and challenged for the top half of the league with highly touted Brazilian recruit Rafael Maia taking over the frontcourt and a young, talented team growing a year older. With McGonagill commanding the point, sharpshooting Toledo transfer Stephen Albrecht finally getting on the court and knockdown shooter Matt Sullivan sharing minutes, the backcourt was supposed to be able to challenge anyone’s. Tucker Halpern was going to pick up exactly where he left off on the wing, looking to consistently replicate the 29 points he dropped on Harvard last year. Maia and Dockery Walker/Andrew McCarthy were going to fill up the paint with their length and bring a focus on defense back to the Pizzitola.

Unfortunately, things haven’t gone the way Brown had hoped.

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Battle 4 Atlantis: Harvard Defense Wins Championship

Harvard won the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis by beating Central Florida, 59-49, for its third win in as many days. (Photo credit: facebook.com)

The team that won the Battle 4 Atlantis was not one that we knew. Since when has Harvard been a shutdown defense? A team that allowed 1.015 points per possession last season yielded just .737 points per possession against Utah, .684 points against Florida St., and .849 points against Central Florida. Since when has the Crimson so thoroughly cleaned the glass? A team that struggled on the boards against the likes of MIT and Holy Cross won each rebounding battle, 37-26, 36-26, and 35-33 against the Utes, the Seminoles, and the Knights, respectively.

Harvard took its game to a different level for three nights on the fittingly named Paradise Island. It was a collective effort. Just as the Versus announcers struggled to name a tournament MVP from the Crimson’s roster (the distinction fell almost by default to senior forward Keith Wright), it’s difficult to single out a player who didn’t carry his weight. Junior Christian Webster struggled with his shot but hit two threes to open an early lead against Central Florida; Wright notched just two field goals against Florida St. (both were timely dunks), but he grabbed eight rebounds; senior guard Oliver McNally deferred most of the ball-handling duties to Brandyn Curry, but he snagged 10 boards and racked up eight assists in the final two games of the tournament. There are too many examples to completely enumerate.

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Battle 4 Atlantis: It’s OK If You Enjoyed a 46-41 Game; I Did

Harvard pulled off a big upset of No. 20/22 Florida St. with a 46-41 victory last night. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

Charles Bukowski once said poetry is like a beer shit. He meant it as a compliment; in fact he could think of no higher praise. To him a warm beer shit represented dirty realism, an urgency for the elemental, a celebration of baseness. The stink was a reminder of man’s primal essence, unencumbered by the superfluities of his world.

Harvard-Florida St. was a beer shit. The first half—with its historically low scoring output—was offensive (as in, unpleasant), and it was hardly redeemed by the relatively explosive second period. The Twitter-verse rightly derided the contest as ugly. But at least to this viewer, it was also poetry.

With shots misfiring from all over the court, each possession carried a heightened importance; each made basket was extra precious, knowing that this field goal might make the ultimate difference. This urgency translated into a competitiveness so palpable that, despite my mounting frustration at the two stalled offenses, all I could think was, “Wow, these guys are playing hard.” And isn’t that the essence of the game?

On most days, we celebrate skill and virtuosity, but, really, talent is only part of the equation. Hard work and desire are fundamentally the game’s fuel. Because talent was on a low-burn yesterday (and that’s being generous), we got to glimpse these teams’ reserves. It became a battle of wills rather than a battle of skills. And, while those who favor aesthetics likely prefer the latter, the former has its own kind of Bukowskian beauty.

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Battle 4 Atlantis: Harvard Crushes Utes

Brandyn Curry led Harvard to an easy victory over Utah in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis. (Photo credit: gocrimson.com)

What a terrible game. Almost nobody could endure it in person, and I imagine very few suffered through the entire HDNet telecast. Technically, Harvard’s 75-47 win over Utah made 2011-12 the fifth straight season that the Crimson has topped a BCS program. But this game had all the excitement of an airport delay.

A few interesting developments stood out from the boredom. One was junior forward Christian Webster showing some life. Last season’s second-leading scorer racked up just nine points in the first three games of the season. His two-for-seven shooting line (two-of-six from three) is not exactly impressive, but it is progress. Webster scored eight points in a two-and-a-half minute stretch late in the first half, and for the first time this season he seemed involved in the offense. The junior added three rebounds, two assists, and three steals in 19 minutes of limited action.

Brandyn Curry was the only sizzle in the blowout. The Harvard guard connected on three acrobatic layups, including one in which he drove down the middle of the lane, faked a pass with his left hand before Euro-stepping and finishing with his right. He (along with Kyle Casey) commanded the game in the decisive early moments, posting nine points and three assists in 20 minutes.

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