Cornell’s backcourt will feature a deep rotation, with numerous players vying for minutes. However, many of the expected contributors lack game experience, while others will need to make a quick transition to the college game.
Adam Gore, the Red’s leading scorer of a year ago, will return for his sophomore season looking to build on his second-team All-Ivy selection. Gore averaged 12.9 points per game during his rookie campaign, good for fifth in the league and first among freshman, earning him Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors.
“I think this year, even more, guys understand his role,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “He understands his role, so it’s not to the point where we need to tell him to shoot. He understands it. Guys look for him.”
The unquestioned leader of the unit will be senior tri-captain Graham Dow, who, when healthy, has shown flashes of brilliance over the past three seasons. At 6-0, Dow should start at point guard when he returns from a sports hernia he had operated on in the off-season.
“It’s been a work in progress. I’ve been making pretty good strides and I’m further ahead this year than I was at the same time last year,” Dow said. “I expect to be working into minutes — I won’t start off playing the same number I was last year. Likewise, the complex of the team is a little different, so my role might be a little different as well.”
Dow could finish near the top of the league in both assists and steals, collecting 80 and 49 respectively a season ago, despite being hampered by injuries for the majority of the year.
“When Graham is 100 percent healthy, which last year was only for 3 or 4 weeks, he is really good for our league,” Donahue said. “He knows how to get it done. He’s still not healthy. I’m hoping when the season rolls around this year, he’ll be in shape and getting better rather than getting worse.”
In his stead, the Red will turn to freshman Louis Dale to run its offensive attack. Despite being listed as the only member of the team less than six feet tall, Dale has the ability to penetrate and create his own shot, with his skill set serving as a great complement to the outside shooting touch of Gore.
“[Dale] has a lot of learning to do, really quickly,” Dow said. “He’s been doing a good job already. But, there are a lot of responsibilities. Some of the things he didn’t realize he had to do in high school, he has to do here, in terms of getting everybody on the floor ready to play and creating a cohesiveness as a unit. He’s a freshman, and he’s really talented so he’s going to get there, but it might take him a little while.”
Behind those three, senior tri-captain Kevin App, sophomore Conor Mullen and freshman Geoff Reeves should see significant playing time off the bench. In addition, junior Khaliq Gant will continue his recovery from a serious neck injury and hopes to return to floor for his senior season.
Sophomore Collin Robinson will also be unable to contribute during games, as he must sit out the upcoming season after transferring from USC. However, Donahue expects his athleticism to push teammates during practices this year.