February 22, 2002

Men's Basketball Heads Out for Tough Ivy Weekend

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The men’s basketball team (4-19, 1-9 Ivy) hits the road this weekend for its last two chances this season to win an away contest. While Cornell is 4-6 in the friendly confines of Newman Arena, it has posted a pitiful 0-12 record on the road.

Tonight the Red will be in Boston to face off against Harvard (12-10, 5-5 Ivy) at Lavietes Pavilion. Despite having lost its last three games, which were all conference matchups, the Crimson is still mathematically in the hunt for a league championship, although one loss would count it out of the race.

Cornell’s only Ivy win this season has come against Harvard.

Two weeks ago, the Red began the Crimson’s skid by winning a thrilling contest, 63-62, as a last-second Harvard 3-pointer missed the mark.

“Obviously, it’s a revenge factor for them. They’re going to be aggressive. They’re a veteran team, they play well at home, so we gotta react to that,” Cornell head coach Steve Donahue said of the Crimson. “I’m interested to see how we do. We need a road win.”

Harvard junior Patrick Harvey will be a key player for Cornell to stop.

He put 25 points on the board in that game against the Red and has led his team in scoring in every game this season but two.

His 19 points a game is second in the Ivy League and is 10.5 more than the next highest scorer on Harvard’s squad, and he averages an even three 3-pointers per game. Harvey has had the hot hand lately, as he scored 21 points in each of his last two games.

On the glass, senior Tim Coleman could pose a problem for the smaller Cornell frontcourt. Coleman is third in the league in rebounding with a 6.7 per game average. Another focus for the Red defense will be junior guard Elliott Prasse-Freeman, who leads the league in assists. Senior Andrew Gellert is fifth in that category.

Gellert and Harvey will also do their best to get in the way of Cornell’s offense. Gellert leads the Ivies in steals, while Harvey is tied with Red senior Wallace Prather for second.

“They’re not the kind of team that’s gonna back down,” Cornell freshman Steve Cobb remarked. “They’re gonna give us a game, and they’re gonna be ready to play. We’re just gonna have to be ready to face the challenge that they’re gonna give us.”

Cobb, who has seen his playing time increase since an injury to sophomore guard Ka’Ron Barnes, paced Cornell with 18 points in the win over the Crimson earlier this season.

If Cornell can pull off the win at Harvard, it will be the first Ivy series sweep for the team since beating Yale twice in the 1999-2000 season. The Red has been unable to sweep the Crimson since the 1993-94 campaign.

Tomorrow night Cornell will head north to face Dartmouth (9-14, 2-8 Ivy) in the Green’s final home game of the season. In the last clash between the Red and Green at Newman Arena, Cornell held a double-digit lead in the second half but was unable to hold on as a shooting spree by Dartmouth gave the 62-56 win to the visitors.

A win over the Green, while not significant in the Ivy title race, would mean a lot to both teams, as Cornell currently sits in last in the conference, just one game behind Dartmouth.

Dartmouth poses a huge outside threat, as they are averaging 9.83 3-pointers a game, well ahead of any other Ivy team.

The Green’s long-range attack is led by senior point guard Flinder Boyd, who along with Vedad Osmanovic will be playing his last game at Leede Arena. Boyd averages 14.7 ppg, ranking sixth in the league, and his .524 3-point shooting percentage tops the league. Boyd is much more than a one-dimensional player, though, as he is also third in the league in assists per game.

“He’s a little more difficult [to guard than Harvey], but he’s difficult in the sense that he’s a point guard. The thing about him is he makes everyone else better, so you start flying guys at him, he finds guys [to pass to]. I think if he’s not the best point guard in the league, he’s one of the top two,” Donahue evaluated.

Boyd’s teammate, forward Charles Harris, can also do damage. The junior is shooting 63 percent and has posted double figures in his last two games.

Dartmouth’s strong shooting is a direct contrast to Cornell’s woes from the field, which have been the Achilles’ heel of the team all season. The Red is shooting just .378 from the floor this year and .307 from 3-point land, easily last in the Ancient Eight.

The rebounding column will be a key stat for the Red and Green tomorrow night as well. While Dartmouth is last in the league in rebounding, Cornell gives up the most rebounds per game.

For the Red, Prather has continued his strong in-conference play lately, scoring 40 points in last weekend’s losses to Yale and Brown and moving into ninth place on Cornell’s all-time scoring list. The guard is averaging 11.8 ppg, leading the team and 10th in the league.

“We have a lot of confidence, knowing we can play with these guys,” Cobb remarked. “We just gotta come out with the intensity that we came out [with] against those two teams the first time we played them.”

Archived article by Alex Fineman