November 26, 2001

Seeking First Victory, Cagers Face Bucknell

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After a weekend of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, the Cornell men’s basketball team (0-2) will return to action tonight against Bucknell (0-4).

Both teams are struggling and come into the game looking for their first win of the season.

Bucknell is struggling on both ends of the floor, but its problems are especially acute on the offensivea end. The hosts are averaging just 55 point per contest and shooting under 39 percent from the field.

The undersized team has also been pounded on the glass. Bucknell has been outrebounded in every single game thus far, and on average, is being outboarded by six per contest. The club has also had trouble containing opposing offenses, especially from behind the arc, where opponents are shooting a blistering 44%. This glaring weakness was exploited in the Bison’s most recent game, in which St. Francis shot 9 of 15 from 3-point land en route to an easy 59-44 victory.

Despite the multitude of problems facing Bucknell, it has two very dangerous weapons in senior guard Bryan Bailey and junior forward Boakai Lalugba. Lalugba, Bucknell’s only legitimate low post presence, is the only player on the squad making over half his field-goal attempts. He is averaging 12.5 points per game, and is leading the team in boards, snatching nearly 7 per game. Bailey, an All-Patriot league guard, leads the Bison in scoring (18.3 PPG), and 3-point shooting (41%). However, he is nursing an ankle injury, and may not be available.

Cornell has suffered the same ills as its opponent. Through two games, the Red is shooting a paltry 35% from the field. Of the 100 shots that the cagers have attempted this season, 47 of them have come from downtown, where they are shooting blanks (23.4%). They have also had trouble holding onto the ball, committing 37 turnovers in two games. These atrocious numbers have contributed to a low-scoring offense that has managed to score just 48 points per game.

The Red is also having trouble controlling the boards and guarding against the 3-point shot. The team is having problems keeping opponents off the offensive glass, having allowed Canisius to grab 18 and Notre Dame to snatch 13. Opposing teams are shooting nearly 37% from behind the arc, including a 10 for 23 performance by the Irish a week ago. Despite two lopsided losses, there have been a few bright spots for Cornell. Freshman guard Cody Toppert leads the team in scoring (14.0 PPG), and has been its most consistent shooter. Classmate center Chris Vandenberg has also had moments on the defensive end. The 6-11 center already has 8 rejections on the year, and is leading the team with 7 rpg. He is also third on the team in scoring, contributing 7 ppg.

Bucknell won the only meeting between the two teams last season 75-59. In that game, Lalugba and Bailey dominated, combining for 41 points. For the Red to win this year’s matchup and its first game of the year, it must contain those two players.

Archived article by Alex Ip