SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Bigger is better. Last night, Syracuse (7-0) was the bigger, better team, as it won its seventh game to start the season, defeating Cornell (0-4), 76-58. Although the Red put forth a tremendous effort, the Orangemen’s superior athleticism and length won out in the end.
The Red, already an undersized team reliant upon four perimeter players, was further hindered by the loss of freshman center Chris Vandenberg. The 6-10 center injured his knee in practice, and missed the contest. He is expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks and could be lost for the season.
Cornell certainly could have used him, as it was outrebounded 40-29.
Remarkably, the Red, featuring just one player over 6-9 held its own on the glass in the first half, grabbing 16 rebounds compared to 17 for the ‘Cuse.
“We’ve got to rebound a little better in the first half,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We just weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be.”
While Cornell played catch-up in the second stanza, however, the margin grew, as Syracuse outrebounded the cagers by 10. Cornell coach Steve Donahue attributed the rebounding problems on a change in defensive pilosophy.
“We tried to extend ourselves to force [Syracuse forward Preston]
Shumpert to penetrate. Now we’re double teaming him and they’ve got an
advantage. You pick your poison. Do you want Shumpert to go one-on-one or
do you want to take your chances on the boards?”
Cornell also had trouble handling ‘Cuse’s athleticism and quickness,
particularly Shumpert and freshman forward Hakim Warrick. Shumpert had
his way with the shorter Cornell defenders, often using his leaping
ability to get good looks from the outside. Meanwhile, Warrick prowled
along the baseline, slamming home four one handed tomahawk jams en route
to a career-high 22 points.
“Maybe Warrick doesn’t get all of those baseline dunks if Chris
[Vandenberg] is there to help,” Donahue lamented.
The Orangemen’s physical prowess was also on display on the defensive
end, particularly in the first half. Countless times, the Red’s guards
would penetrate into the lane, only to be met by Syracuse 7-footer Craig
Forth. The freshman center only recorded 2 blocks on the evening, but he
challenged numerous others.
“They’ve got those guys in the back,” junior forward Jake Rohe said.
“They’ve got the Warrick’s and the Forth’s [who are] tall guys, real
long, real athletic. It’s Syracuse, and that’s the type of guy they get.” Donahue acknowledged that Syracuse’s size and athleticism was pivotal.
“It was a big part of it. Just their ability to get into passing lanes,
get rebounds. I thought their athleticism was a huge part of their success.”
Archived article by Alex Ip