Takeaways from Cornell men’s 10-3 start

After a week-long break for the holidays, Cornell men’s basketball returned home to defeat Binghamton, 86-70, to wrap up the 2022 portion of the schedule. It was a straightforward win for Cornell. Sophomore guard Nazir Williams hit eight of his 10 shots for a career-high 23 points and junior guard Chris Manon scored 16 off the bench.

Overall, you couldn’t have scripted a much better nonconference slate for the Cornell men. Sure, the Big Red could have (and probably should have) beaten Boston College and Miami, a pair of two-point losses, but 10-3 is a solid start for Brian Earl and company.

Metrically, Cornell is the best it’s been since the 2010 Sweet 16 squad. The Big Red are No. 137 in KenPom and No. 60 in adjusted offensive efficiency. They are No. 41 in adjusted tempo and No. 12 in average possession time. KenPom projects Cornell to finish third in the Ivy League.

Cornell is placed even higher in the NET rankings at No. 99, ahead of every other Ivy but Yale (No. 36).

With league play set to start Sunday for the Big Red, here are three things we’ve learned about this team:.

1. Greg Dolan is a star

Senior guard Greg Dolan stepped into the starting point guard role last season and did what was asked of him. He served as a facilitator and played good defense.

This season, Dolan has blossomed into a star. The Williamsville, N.Y. native’s scoring has climbed to a new level. Dolan leads the team at 13.8 points per game on 56.4% shooting. He’s also made 58.3% of his three-point attempts (28-for-48), which if qualified, would put him second in the NCAA.

Dolan leads the team in nearly every offensive category. He’s been a huge factor in Cornell’s success.

2. A plethora of offense

Dolan might lead the way on offense, but the Big Red have plenty of guys who can score. Williams has felt like the go-to guy a lot this season, posting 12.7 points per game. The Nyack, N.Y. native has developed a three-point shot and can still slash and finish at the rim.

Manon and junior forward Sean Hansen are both scoring 9.7 points per contest and have shown they can carry the offensive load at times. Sophomore forward Guy Ragland Jr. has a seemingly infinite shooting range, registering 8.7 points per outing. Junior forward Keller Boothby, junior guard Isaiah Gray and Salt Lake Community College transfer Max Watson each are pitching in around seven points per game.

The Big Red have eight quality scoring options that can back each other up. The offense has only bit Cornell once — the loss to Syracuse, in which the team shot 27% from deep on mainly open shots. If the Big Red make shots, they can beat nearly anyone.

3. Defense is the clear weakness

It hasn’t been talked about much since they are winning games on the strength of their offense, but the Big Red have not been great on the defensive end. Per KenPom, Cornell ranks in the bottom third of the country in adjusted defensive efficiency (No. 249). The Big Red are allowing 73 points per game, including two matchups in which they held Division III opponents well under that average.

Opponents against Cornell have a 53.4% effective field-goal percentage, which is No. 287 in the country, according to KenPom. Effective field-goal percentage adjusts for a three-point field goal being worth one more point than a two-point field goal. The Big Red also allow teams to shoot 54% on two-point shots and 35% from three-point range. This should be a point of emphasis ahead of conference play, which Cornell starts at Dartmouth Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN+.