Potential. In a word that’s what we can take from the first five Cornell games of the season.
The pieces are clearly there. A solid backcourt is staffed by a senior with the potential to lead, a top-flight shooter who has the potential to fill up the scoring column and a fearless, hard-driving freshman who has the potential to play like a seasoned veteran. Several guys that have the potential to keep legs fresh without experiencing a huge drop off back the main rotation.
On the wing, an explosive, bouncy freshman and a hardnosed, burly sophomore have the potential to more than hold their own.
In the post, a pair of juniors has the potential to provide an offensive spark and a raw freshman has the potential to step in and give a few high-energy minutes.
After a quick Thanksgiving break, the 1-3 Princeton Tigers head down to Lewisburg, PA (official town slogan: There’s still a place…) for a three-game set as part of the TicketCity Legends Classic. Our sample size has quadrupled since the last time we checked in on Princeton, and even though it’s still very (very!) early in the season, it seems worthwhile to see if the problems that promoted panic after the Wagner opening debacle have resolved themselves or fester yet like an open sore on the Tigers’ palm.
’Tis the season for holiday tournaments, and, in the spirit of the times, Dartmouth has left the cold woods of Hanover for the frozen wilderness of Anchorage to participate in the Great Alaska Shootout. Like turkey and stuffing, the classic tournament is a Thanksgiving fixture, as it tips off its 34th edition tonight.
The Shootout lacks some of the heavy hitters that it’s hosted in the past, but the tournament has more than made up for it with an eclectic mix of mascots, which include the Big Green, the Anteaters, the Chippewas, the Racers, and the Dons. Dartmouth squares off against the aforementioned Dons tonight (or, um, this morning) at 1:30 a.m. in a game televised on Fox College Sports and YES Network.
San Francisco—which returns all five starters from a team that went 10-4 in the WCC a year ago—has jumped out of the blocks to a 4-1 start. The undersized Big Green will have its hands full with the Dons’ duo of Angelo Caloiaro, a 6’8 senior putting up 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and Perris Blackwell, a 6’9 junior who averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds a season ago. But the Big Green might have found something in its own frontcourt, as freshmen Jvonte Brooks and Gabas Maldunas have each grabbed co-Rookie of the Week honors in the season’s first two weeks. Both freshmen were instrumental in Dartmouth’s first win against Bryant on Saturday, combining for 20 points and 18 rebounds in the 66-62 victory.
The winner of Dartmouth-San Francisco will face the winner of Murray St.-Alaska Anchorage in the semifinal, while the losers will square off in a consolation game. The other side of the bracket pits Central Michigan against New Mexico St. and UC Irvine against Southern Mississippi. It must be said that in every iteration of the Great Alaska Shootout at least one participant has made it to the NCAA Tournament.
At one point during a break in the action at tonight’s Yale-Seton Hall matchup at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, a 7-year old lined up against a 13-year old to compete in the classic put-on-these-oversized-clothes-and-run-down-the-court-and-score contest. A 7-year old really has no business competing with a 13-year old, but there were so few people in the stands, they may not have been able to find two kids of a similar age (kidding, but barely). After a few missed lay-up attempts by the older child, there was the 7-year old, shuffling to the elbow and launching a prayer.
The shot fell far short and the older child made his lay-up to win the prize.
I could use that as a tidy little metaphor for the game that played out between Seton Hall and Yale, but it wouldn’t really be accurate. The Bulldogs had every opportunity to win this game, and it certainly wasn’t because Seton Hall was bigger and more experienced. On the contrary, there were quite a few times tonight when you would have thought the Bulldogs were the 13-year old, forcing Seton Hall into bad decisions on defense and finishing on clever passes at the rim. Yale is still a work in progress, though, and they let a big opportunity slip away during a seven-minute scoreless stretch late in the game. As an Ivy fan, it was frustrating to watch because the Bulldogs were talented enough to win this game. Here’s what Yale needs to improve upon if they want to eventually challenge Harvard and Penn, who look like the class of the league right now.
Game 5: Cornell (2-2) vs Delaware (0-2) – Tuesday, November 22 – Bob Carpenter Center Acierno Arena
On the heels of an impressive victory over American East-favorite Boston University, Cornell hits the road in search of a winning record for the first time in nearly a year. The Red was last above .500 following a win over the same Delaware squad that it travels to play on Tuesday. With a newly developed, and largely unexpected interior threat in the duo of Eitan Chemerinski and Josh Figini, Cornell hopes that balance in the scoring column will keep the group on the winning path against the Blue Hens.
The Blue Hens look to be at full strength Tuesday night. Freshman Kyle Anderson and Jarvis Threatt each went down for stretches on Friday night at Villanova but are expected to play. Their ability to bounce back will play a major factor in Delaware picking up its first W of the season.
The Ivy League shook off its sluggish start to the season this weekend, going 6-1 and improving to 10-13 against Division-I opponents. This weekend also saw Brown, Dartmouth, and Princeton pick up their first D-1 wins of the season, while Harvard continues to roll over inferior opponents, no matter what coast the Crimson is playing on.
The NCAA has ruled on Brown’s appeal regarding the eligibility of Rafael Maia, their heralded freshman big man from Brazil. Maia, who was considered a favorite for Ivy League Rookie of the Year, will be ineligible to play for the Bears during the 2011-2012 season, according to a source close to the team. The news comes as another blow to the Bears, who are struggling to get out of the blocks at the beginning of this season, following losses to Albany and Manhattan.
Maia’s ineligibility stems from the following NCAA rule passed in April of 2010:
“Any student‐athlete who does not initially enroll full‐time in a collegiate institution within one year or the next opportunity to enroll following the high school graduation date of the prospective student‐athlete’s class and participates in organized events after that grace year will be charged with a season of intercollegiate competition for each year of participation and must fulfill an academic year in residence at the certifying
institution before being eligible to compete.”
After graduating from high school in December of 2009 (as is the case in Brazil and most of the Southern Hemisphere), Maia went and played a PG year at Maine Central Institute. Because Maia played the entirety of his PG year at MCI, he went past the one year of post-high school graduation organized activities that the NCAA allows. Maia will be eligible to play next year, but will only have three years of eligibility remaining.
Brown is also missing co-captain and returning leading scorer Tucker Halpern, who continues to struggle with a bout of mono. The Bears return to action on November 19th, at home against Hartford.
For the first 32 minutes, Tuesday night’s game at Holy Cross was reminiscent of last year’s early season matchup against Bryant. In both instances, Harvard played down to the level of its opponent—so far beneath its potential that you had to wonder if the Crimson would be able to snap out of its funk in time to avoid the loss. This time, Harvard didn’t need to rally in the last minute as it did against the Bulldogs, instead relying on a spark from freshman forward Wesley Saunders to jumpstart a decisive run over the final eight minutes of a 73-64 win.
Game 3: Cornell (1-1) @ Buffalo (1-0) – November 16 – Alumni Arena – Buffalo, NY By Sam Aleinikoff & Jake Mastbaum
Cornell looks to continue rolling after picking up their first win of the season over Binghamton Monday night in impressive fashion. For now, some of the questions that were raised after Friday’s loss to St. Bonaventure have been answered, but long term viability remains a question. Can Eitan Chemerinski continue to be a threat offensively? Is Shonn Miller the real deal? Big Red fans will be able to take another early look at Bill Courtney’s squad Wednesday night as Cornell take their act back to the road, looking to make it two straight against the Buffalo Bulls.
The sky is not falling. Harold Camping has not, to my knowledge, revised the ever-changing date of his apocalypse to some time later this week. And the Mayans still give us another 12-odd months until the end of the world.
But premature or not, it’s panic time in central New Jersey, after the Princeton basketball team suffered a humbling defeat Saturday on its home court to middling NEC foe Wagner, 73-57. For the Tigers, the game was an ugly, foul-filled, turnover laden affair, featuring an especially brutal nine minute run in the second half where the Tigers failed to put the ball through the basket altogether.
So what happened? With the clear-eyed hindsight of a few days to ruminate on the meltdown, here are a few thoughts about what the Wagner Seahawks exposed as weaknesses in the Tigers’ game.