Fans of Columbia basketball may have been concerned by the omission of Patrick Tape, a 2019 honorable mention All-Ivy power forward, from Tuesday’s Road to Ivy Madness season preview. By Thursday afternoon, they would have their suspicions increased when Stadium’s Jeff Goodman tweeted that a source informed him that Tape would leave the program, graduate this spring and seek a graduate transfer next year.
Despite being in the team photograph, Tape’s name had been removed from the 2019-20 roster.
The biggest story of the off-season was Miye Oni being selected in June’s NBA Draft. The Yale junior and reigning Ivy Player of the Year decided to leave school early and leave his name in the draft. Despite falling to the late second round, a perilous spot to making an NBA roster, Oni impressed in the Summer League and earned a guaranteed contract with the Utah Jazz. He is playing just as well in the pre-season and looks to be a real steal for the Jazz.
Featuring 18 contests against teams ranked in the top 150 and highlighted by trips to the Carrier Dome and the Bryce Jordan Center, the Cornell men’s basketball teams released its 2019-20 schedule on Thursday. The Big Red will attempt to develop their young squad over a 13-game nonconference schedule to again exceed expectations and return to the Ivy League Tournament after a one-year absence.
Following early games with Binghamton and Bryant, Cornell welcomes NJIT to Newman Arena on November 13. Last season, the Big Red defeated the Highlanders by six in Newark and look to make it two-in-a-row over the ASUN’s second best team. Three days later, the Red head to the midwest to take on DePaul of the Big East. This game would have had more intrigue had Bill Courtney remained on the Blue Demons’ staff, but the former Cornell head coach (2010-2016) left for Miami in June.
On November 20, Cornell heads up I-81 for its yearly trip to Syracuse. This year’s game will be third meeting between junior Jimmy Boeheim and his Hall of Fame father Jim, as well as the 125th overall between the nearby schools. Last year’s 63-55 loss was the 39th in a row, but the closest game against the Orange since 2005.
The calendar has not even turned to September and we have our first major development of the 2019-20 season. The Harvard Crimson broke the news that rising senior Katie Benzan, a three-time first team All-Ivy guard, has decided to step away from the program and end her Ancient Eight career.
“Katie has been a remarkable player in our program for three years,” head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said in a statement emailed to the paper. “After much discussion with the coaching staff, she has decided to step away her senior year.”
With Stone Gettings transferring from Cornell, expectations went from a possible contender to a team that may not even get 10 wins. But despite not getting into the Ivy League Tournament, the Big Red had a pretty solid season and they far surpassed their expectations. Matt Morgan was still Matt Morgan, but forwards Jimmy Boeheim and Josh Warren stepped it up and each had big roles as secondary scorers while seniors Steven Julian and Joel Davis anchored the defense. The team played some great games, including almost-upsets over Yale and Syracuse and a sweep of Harvard.
A lot of Cornell’s problem throughout the season was poor rebounding. The Big Red could hold teams to 35-45 percent from the field most nights, yet still lose. For context, they were 352nd out of 353 Division I teams in offensive rebound percentage.
Saturday’s contest between Harvard and Cornell was the exact opposite of Friday’s games for both teams, in the sense that offense would come at a premium.
After the Crimson dropped 98 points Friday in triple overtime, they were held to just 61 points on Saturday as Cornell stormed back to erase a 15-point second-half deficit to win the game, 67-61. Despite struggling to get shots all game, Matt Morgan had 15 points, good enough to move into second-place in conference history in career points (2,162), a night after meeting Jim Barton, the man he just surpassed.
Great to meet an Ivy League legend last night at his alma mater! Jim Barton was a great player and an even better role model for us as players! Thank you for the words of wisdom! Hope to see you again soon! pic.twitter.com/D5PwRQKgpr
Despite a comparatively quiet night from Matt Morgan, the Cornell Big Red were able to overcome a 10-point second half hole to force overtime against the visiting Princeton Tigers.
But unlike last season at Newman Arena, Cornell couldn’t put the Tigers away in extra time, as Princeton won its seventh straight game to improve to 12-5 (4-0 Ivy) and remain first in the conference, while Cornell dropped back to .500 at 10-10 (2-2) and still very much in the Ivy Madness picture.
Matt Morgan scored 17 points, with all five of his makes from three, and Terrance McBride’s 5-of-6 free-throw shooting down the stretch was enough to fight off a late rally from the Longwood Lancers and preserve a 70-64 win. Cornell evened their record out again at .500, improving to 5-5 while Longwood fell to 8-5.
Cornell shot a very impressive 16-of-32 from three, the third-most three pointers made in a game in school history. However, the Big Red hit just six two-pointers in the game, shooting a dismal 6-of-24.
A rough Sunday afternoon for the Matt Morgan-led Cornell Big Red found the Colgate Raiders pulling away in the second half, winning by a score of 73-57 in the Central New York Hoops Classic at Newman Arena. Cornell would fall to 2-1 with this being their first loss, and Colgate would improve to 2-1.
Matt Morgan would finish with 12 points while shooting 4-for-14 overall, including 1-for-9 from deep. However, he was able to haul in 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
Cornell struggled mightily from both the three-point and free throw lines, shooting 4-for-28 (14.3 percent) and 7-for-17 (41.2 percent) from those areas respectively.
For the last three years, I have attended Cornell’s season opener against the Binghamton Bearcats. Both schools are a manageable drive north on I-81 from my home near Scranton. Each of these games has offered an interesting sideline, a story within the story, beyond the final score.
Two years ago, Brian Earl was making his head coaching debut at Cornell. At the same time, Binghamton’s shooting guard, J.C. Show, a product of my local high school who had been mildly pursued by Earl’s Tigers, took the court for the first time since transferring from Bucknell. Show’s 26 points helped Binghamton spoil Earl’s first game, while rather thoroughly mixing my emotions.
Last year, the teams tipped off in Ithaca. For the first time, Jimmy Boeheim, son of the Hall of Famer, appeared in a Cornell uniform. His parents and I were there to witness the event. The elder Boeheim first came to my attention when he played for the Scranton Miners in the old Eastern League in the 1960’s. His gritty, baseline-to-baseline combativeness won the hearts of thousands of fans in blue collar Scranton. When I encountered him at a concession stand during halftime, his reaction was typical coach Boeheim: “Get out of my way … ”