November 22, 2000

M. Cagers Travel to Michigan State

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David and Goliath, watch out. If the men’s basketball team wins its contests over the Thanksgiving break, that tale will be soon replaced

Tomorrow, the men’s basketball team will be en route to Lansing, Mi., to play in the Spartan Coca-Cola Classic. Yes, that’s right, the Cornell team will compete along with Bradley University and Eastern Washington University in the Breslin Center — home of the 2000 NCAA champions, Michigan State.

Moreover, the Red is seeded fourth in the tournament and on Friday it will get the first shot at top-seeded MSU, which also happens to be the third-ranked team in the country, according to the ESPN/USA Today Poll.

After last Saturday’s loss to Lafayette, the Red has gotten a better handle on what must be done in future games

Coming off a loss against defending Patriot League champions, the Red saw some definite holes in defense as it was not able to handle the Leopards’ prolific substitutions and matchup zones. The instead team settled for ill-advised perimeter shots.

“I think that one of our strengths is our inside players. We need to get the ball into the low post,” was one of head coach Steve Donahue critiques on the game.

“We didn’t do a good job in a lot of cases. We need to get better and we’re going to get better. We have our hands full,” he added.

On the other hand, the bright star for the Red was freshman guard Ka’Ron Barnes who scored 18 points off the bench and added a spark to the ailing Red. Mercedes also scored a game high 19 points for the team in the failed effort.

It’s an opportune time for improvement with the Red facing undoubtedly its hardest game of the season. In order to make a dent against the first college team to beat the Harlem Globetrotters in 1270 contests, each Red cager must play the game of his life.

MSU is part of the college basketball elite while Cornell is attempting assert itself in the Ivy League. And although MSU lost three valuable seniors in Mateen Cleaves, Mo’ Peterson, and A. J. Granger, it is well stocked with veterans and has perhaps the best recruiting class in the NCAA headed by two McDonald’s All-American High School players. With freshman center Zach Randolph and classmate guard Marcus Taylor, this team might be more talented than last year’s.

Cornell will either meet Bradley University or Eastern Washington University in a consolation game or the championship pending the result of the MSU contest.

The Bradley Braves suffered a second-half collapse against No. 23 USC 107-92 in their season opener. Preseason polls ranked them eighth out of ten teams in a strong Missouri Valley Conference .

The Eagles also dropped their first contest against the perennial Big Dance Cinderella team, Gonzaga. It is expected to finish second in its Big Sky Conference. Cornell won its only game against EWU in 1995

Nonetheless, the opportunity to play one of the top teams in the nation is certainly one that Donahue jumped at.

“I want to give these guys a chance to travel all over the country and play in its best arenas,” Donahue divulged. “We need more Michigan State games in our schedule. In the long run, [the challenge] is the right thing to do for the student-athlete.”

The Red has its chance to test itself against the best. Whatever the result, it can only make it stronger. Regardless Donahue and the team will walk away with an experience they will never forget.

Archived article by Amanda Angel