February 16, 2001

Cagers to Battle Top Ivy Teams

Print More

Last weekend’s events taught us two very important lessons:

1. Penn and Princeton are not invincible.

2. Neither is Cornell.

For the first time since 1996, both Penn and Princeton lost Ivy League games on the same day. For the 50th time since 1996, the Cornell men’s basketball team posted a loss. And this weekend, the Red fans have the honor, the luxury and the whole-hearted joy of watching these three teams get together for a little jamboree in Newman Arena.

Cornell (6-15, 2-6 Ivy) opened its Ivy season against these very teams, losing to both by sizable margins. Since that fateful weekend, the Red have gone 2-5, with wins against Columbia and Yale. In its last game, the Red fell behind early and was eventually pounded by Brown, 85-52.

Last Friday witnessed a bit of history as Dartmouth upset Princeton and Harvard beat down Penn. The rise of Harvard has shaken the top of the Ivies. Had it not been for Princeton’s last second 3-point shot at the buzzer over the Crimson, Harvard would be sitting pretty for an NCAA tournament bid. The Quakers and Tigers last played each other Tuesday night in a battle of the Ivy kings. Princeton pulled off the 67-53 victory, and thereby took the reigns of the division lead.

“Both teams are very tough,” head coach Steve Donahue admitted. “Penn is very big, athletic, strong, and experienced. Princeton plays with a more deliberate style and they create a lot of matchup problems.”

Princeton plays more of a team game, as they have no players in the league’s top ten in scoring or rebounding and have started 10 different players at least once this season. The key is that the Tigers lead the league in shooting percentage at 45.9%.

Their defense isn’t shabby either: the Tigers own the Division I record for most consecutive games (877) without allowing 100 points. The last time that happened was 1968 against some team from Chapel Hill. If the Red breaks 100, rest assured victory will be its (the team has hit 91 twice this season).

To score 100, Cornell must run a flawless offensive scheme.

“We have to get good looks, take shots, and limit their backdoor passes,” Donahue revealed.

Against Penn, it doesn’t hurt to have their former assistant coach as your own head coach.

“I know their style, and basically what they do,” Donahue said. “It helps to prepare, though they’re a very good basketball team and they’ll make adjustments to us. But when the ball goes up, it’s the players who decide, and hopefully ours will make the adjustments we practice.”

Freshman Ka’ron Barnes, juniors Wallace Prather and Jake Rohe and senior tri-captains Greg Barratt and Ray Mercedes will lead the men into battle.

“I’m very pleased with our effort [thus far]. The players are committed and doing the things they need to do to turn this thing around,” Donahue commented.

Upsets would do wonders for the process.

Archived article by Sumeet Sarin