Coming off two close road losses to Columbia and Stonybrook last weekend, the Cornell men’s basketball team is looking forward to playing in the confines of Newman Arena this weekend. On Friday night, Cornell hosts Harvard and the following night, the Big Red will entertain Dartmouth.
The Friday night matchup against the Crimson is the tougher of the two upcoming games. The Crimson sport a 3-1 Ivy League record, and a 10-6 overall record. Its one loss came at the hands of first place Yale. To win, Cornell will need to keep the number two scorer in the Ivies Dan Clemente under control. The Red defense held Columbia’s top scorer Craig Austin under check two weeks ago, and first year head coach Steve Donahue is looking for a similar defensive effort from his players.
Nevertheless, Clemente is not the lone threat on Harvard. The Crimson as a team possesses the top spot in the Ivies for scoring offense, at 75.4 points per game. A key contributor to the Crimson attack is point guard Ell Prass Freeman, who directs the offense with 6.5 assists per game.
“We will need to keep the guards from penetrating,” Donahue said.
The Saturday night matchup pits a 0-4 Dartmouth against a 1-3 Cornell team. Records can be deceiving as Dartmouth, though held winless in the Ivies, has kept every Ivy league game close. It lost to Yale, 74-70, and battled Harvard in both of its contests. The Big Green runs an offensive style similar to the Princeton Tigers. Greg Buth, who averages 18.9 points per game, is the scoring leader in their backdoor style of play.
“We need to do a better job of executing on offense,” Donahue said. “Similar to our offense in the Stonybrook game, but then we also need to tighten the defense.”
A boost for the Red should come from senior Ray Mercedes, who rebounded last game against
Stonybrook with seventeen points. Mercedes played sparingly in the home and home against Columbia, but Donahue plans on inserting Mercedes in the regular rotation in this weekend’s games.
Another senior who has taken a step in the right direction is Kevin Cuttica. After a slow shooting start to the season, Cuttica has been knocking down the three-ball, hitting 7 of 15 from beyond the arc in the last two games. His senior leadership and shooting prowess will be needed against Harvard and Dartmouth.
This weekend also marks the first, “Halftime with Hunter,” which will take place during halftime of the Harvard game. President Hunter Rawlings will compete against two students and one other fan in a “hotshot” competition. All proceeds from the competition will be donated to Coaches versus Cancer and the American Cancer Society for cancer research.
“We are excited in athletics to have Hunter participate in an event that will be fun and exciting for the student and fan base to participate in,” Pete Fitzpatrick, general manager of Cornell Sports Marketing, said. “Even more so, because it is for such a good cause, Coaches versus Cancer and American Cancer Society.”
The crowd at Newman Arena will be rocking this weekend as the Big Red look to even their Ivy League record at 3-3.
Archived article by Jason Skolnik