February 20, 2002

Women's Basketball Eyes Ultimate Prize

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Amidst the rhythmic squeak of basketball shoes that will be heard this Friday night in Newman Arena, there lies the unmistakable bond of the lady cagers. This bond has pulled the team out of a slump of mediocre seasons and rocketed them into it current position on the verge of an Ivy League championship and a bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Red stands poised to make this dream a reality, starting with a victory over the epitome of Cornell’s rivals, Harvard. With only four games left on its schedule, Cornell trails Harvard by just half a game. A mark in the win column would prove vital in putting the proverbial ball in its court. Should Cornell prevail, it would only need to match Harvard’s record for the remainder of the season to earn its Grail, the Ivy League trophy. To sweeten the deal, the Ivy champ earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships to battle for a national title.

“The team is excited but focused,” remarked senior guard Breean Walas. “We are looking forward to the game.”

Senior Do Stevens commented in a past interview that her ideal SportsCenter moment would be hitting the winning three-pointer to take the Ivy championship. With devoted efforts from key players down the home stretch of the season, that dream could be very close at hand. This has been a goal for Stevens, Walas, and classmate Melissa Koch since their freshman year, and with their motivated hard work, their visions of greatness may soon pay off.

Head coach Marnie Dacko, in her seventh year at Cornell, calmly reflects on the “energy and emotional high” that she has come to expect from her players which will no doubt be evident during this weekend’s contest.

“We have to defend their transition game. They move the ball well and they are large, we need to be strong inside and work the boards,” she said. “[The team] is stepping up and is ready to play.”

The excitement of Friday’s game has spread to the men’s basketball team.

“It’s a huge game,” remarked men’s head coach Steve Donahue, “I hope that the whole Cornell and Ithaca community comes out to support it.”

The men will be on the road this weekend at Harvard and Dartmouth but their hearts will be back home on the Hill.

“We are really excited,” said freshman center Chris Vandenberg. “We are all good friends…we wish we could be there, we know that they’ll win.”

Added Donahue: “Any time you get a chance to win an Ivy League title, it’s a huge accomplishment.”

The stage is truly set for the Red to seize its destiny and become the most accomplished team in the history of Cornell women’s basketball. The 2001-02 edition of the Red has already broken team records in overall victories and most Ivy League wins. This is by far the most important game of the season for any Cornell squad and will prove an exciting and meaningful event for all to enjoy.

Archived article by Chris Poplarski