Princeton’s stirring comeback win over Columbia Friday night, when the Tigers unleashed a 51-point second half avalanche, thrilled the announced crowd of 35 fans. Word quickly spread that something special was unfolding in Jadwin Gym. Another seven of the Tiger faithful showed up for Saturday night’s welcome home party for favorite son and Cornell coach Brian Earl.
ITHACA, N.Y. — Dartmouth held a one-point lead at the half, but Cornell shot 60% in the second half and fended off several late rallies to win the Ivy League opener on Sunday, 79-71.
“It was exactly what the Ivy League is going to be like,” Cornell coach Brian Earl said. “[Dartmouth] knew exactly what we were going to do and we had to fight through it. They are a veteran team. It’s a pretty good win.”
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Cornell made 15 three-pointers over Syracuse’s long 2-3 zone on Wednesday, but a 21-5 run in the second half pushed the Orange ahead by 19 points, eventually winning, 80-68.
“We needed to make a few more [shots],” coach Brian Earl said. “I thought we played pretty hard. [Syracuse is] really hard to guard.”
Most people overlooked Cornell ahead of this season. Picked seventh in the Ivy League poll, many expected the Big Red wouldn’t be much of a factor and that the team would likely win few games.
But a month into the season, the Big Red are well on their way to 10 wins before conference play even starts.
Nobody expected the Big Red to start 8-1. With nearly a brand new roster, Brian Earl’s squad has already won more games than the entire 2019-20 season, a team led by now-Syracuse star Jimmy Boeheim.
“It’s really fun,” senior forward Kobe Dickson said after a win over Canisius last week. “I love these guys [and] it’s nice to be winning with them.”
Just one Ivy League men’s basketball team remains undefeated through a week of action, and it isn’t either conference favorite in Harvard or Yale. Instead, it’s the Cornell Big Red, searching for their first 3-0 start in 25 seasons on Tuesday against Colgate at Newman Arena.
Cornell doesn’t have the star power its opponents have, but the team has shown its depth through season-opening wins at Binghamton and Lafayette. The team has also shown resiliency, coming up with big stops and timely shot-making in 76-69 and 90-85 victories over the Bearcats and Leopards, respectively.
In Brian Earl’s first three seasons on East Hill, the Cornell men’s basketball team improved from eight to 15 wins, clinching a birth in the 2019 CIT to conclude Matt Morgan’s collegiate career. The Big Red took an expected step back in 2019-20, winning just seven games but setting themselves up for a strong 2020-21 with Jimmy Boeheim and Terrance McBride leading the way.
But, of course, that never happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Boeheim now plays for his father, Jim Boeheim, at Syracuse, while McBride now plays for the Rice Owls, tabbed eighth in Conference USA.
Headed into the 2021-22 season, the Big Red are without their star power from two years ago but are hoping to develop under a group of returners.
“We took some lumps [in 2019-20] to have a team last year we thought would’ve been really competitive,” Earl said. “Once we knew those guys were going to move on, I think our team did a really good job of coming together – the younger guys realizing that we’re turning the page.”
While Boeheim and McBride are gone, Cornell has a core of players from two years ago to lead the team in a season filled with unknowns.
Two days after the Media Day for Ivy women’s hoops, the men had their turn at the virtual podium. A day prior, the results of the preseason poll were released. While five different teams earned top votes, the overall totals showed no changes from the last day of competition in 2020.
Yale, two-time defending Ivy champion, was again picked to come in first with 115 points and seven first-place votes. Harvard, the 2019 co-champion, was close behind, tallying 110 points and four first-place votes. Princeton, the 2017 title winner, closed out the top tier with 108 points and two first-place votes.
Penn, the 2018 co-champion, secured the last slot in the upper division with 93 points and two first-place selections. Brown, which last held the title in 1986, again found itself behind the Quakers for fifth place with 79 points and a pair of title votes.
Dartmouth, which last entered the winner’s circle in 1959, was tabbed in the six slot with 43 points, four points more than Cornell, which last held the top spot in the Sweet Sixteen season of 2010. Columbia, the 1968 champion, was projected to finish last with 25 points.
As this Ivy non-season progresses, we thought it’d make sense for us to do an Ivy Hoops Online contributors’ roundtable looking ahead to next season, assuming there is one:
The final regular season game followed a great storyline. One of my favorite coaches spurred his team to its best offensive showing of the season, 60% shooting from the field, 64% from deep, five players in double figures and 85 points in a win. The problem for me is the favorite coach is Brian Earl, skipper of the Cornell Big Red, who masterminded a terrific game plan in the 85-82 Cornell victory.
After four months and 26 games, Penn’s chance at making its fourth straight Ivy Madness appearance now comes down to one final contest.
Following a closely matched 24 minutes, the Quakers used a 12-4 run, punctuated by back-to-back threes from Ryan Betley and Jordan Dingle, to create separation from Cornell and cruise to a 78-64 victory on Friday night.