Following losses to Penn and Princeton and ending its opportunities at a postseason run, Cornell men’s basketball travels to New Haven on Friday and Providence on Saturday hoping to salvage wins in its final games of the 2016-17 season.
Cornell (7-20, 3-9 Ivy) starts the weekend series against a talented Yale team (15-10, 7-5) that came back to defeat the Red, 81-70, in its last outing at Newman Arena. That game Yale returned from a seven-point deficit in the first half and fended off the Red late in the second to overtake Cornell
Although Yale’s 46 percent seasonal field goal percentage currently leads the Ivy League, sophomore forward Stone Gettings hopes to turn the tides this go around and make an even bigger statistical impact as the Red takes on the Bulldogs for a second time.
“I’m sure for Yale it will kind of be the same situation — they might double me this time,” Gettings said.
In his last performance against the Bulldogs, Gettings knocked down 28 points, had four steals and collected eight rebounds. Certainly, the Bulldogs will have tabs on him during Friday night’s contest.
Cornell head coach Brian Earl spoke to Gettings’ role as an influential and critical passer in this weekends matchups.
“He helps a lot and he’s learning how much of a passer he has to be and how important a simple pass out of the post is,” Earl said. “Princeton doubled him, and Brown will probably double him. You have to be able to roll with what they give you. [Gettings] probably touches the ball more than any 6-8 guy in the country and so there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that.”
However, even if Gettings is able to kick the ball out during this weekend’s matchups and create potential three-point plays, someone will need to capitalize those open-shot opportunities in order for the Red to have a chance at winning in either game.
With sophomore guard Matt Morgan only 28 points shy of becoming the first sophomore in Cornell history to reach the 1,000 point mark — the school’s 27th player all-time — he is the most likely candidate for the Red to have an explosive weekend and add points from beyond the three-point line.
In the Red’s last game against Brown (12-16, 3-9), the visiting bears consistently produced points throughout the night, shooting 48 percent from the floor and hitting 50 percent of its shots from beyond the 3 three-point line.
“We need to mind it a little better than we did last time … we were a little lax in our defense,” Earl said. “We knew that Brown runs their stuff hard like Penn so you need to be locked-in against those teams when you play them. Penn obviously hurt us — maybe a little more us turning it over — but also how hard they run things. When you’re not ready to play against the speed which they run their stuff at you’re in trouble. I think we’re fair warned now that we have to be locked in when the ball goes up.”
Cornell failed against Yale last time due to a lack of late-game execution. Earl and the Red seek to fix that this time around.
“Yale [does] what they do, they’ve done it for years now and so we’ll try to junk it up a little bit,” Earl said. “We did a pretty good job last game, but again, it was another game that came down to the last minutes where we didn’t execute.”
While poor passing has plagued the Red in many of their recent games, leading to 18 turnovers against Penn in the first half and a season-high of 23 against Princeton this past weekend, the Red will more importantly be tasked with overcoming its poor late-game shooting which has caused its collapse in several second halves this season.
Although the Red is now eliminated from the postseason, Gettings was very optimistic when asked about the future of Cornell basketball regardless of this weekends games.
“Right now, I want to make sure we send the seniors out on the right note,” Gettings said. “But overall I think the program is going in the right direction and Coach Earl has definitely talked about it and I think we’ve shown just in terms of style of play how we’re going to change in the years to come and it’ll work. I’m confident with that and confident in Coach Earl. I’m really excited.”
The Red tips off against the Bulldogs Friday at 7 p.m. and the Bears Saturday at 6 p.m.