The men’s basketball team held its annual Red/White game Saturday night with the Red team coached by assistant coach Mike Burden just squeezing by the White team headed by assistant Joe Burke, 33-31. The game highlighted the team’s alumni weekend, which saw the return of about 50 players, many of whom competed in an alumni game earlier in the day.
The alumni game saw the return of Ken Bantum ’85, who was Cornell’s only Ivy League Player of the Year, and John Bajusz ’87, who ranks as the all-time Cornell leading scorer.
Of that game, sophomore tri-captain Eric Taylor said, “It’s always fun to watch some of the past players play. The team from ’88 was here, the last championship team, and they played well; they’re all good players so it was enjoyable to watch.”
Honored at the morning game was that 1988 Ivy League Championship team, which was celebrating its 15-year anniversary since winning the title.
That year, the team, coached by Mike Dement, went 17-10 and 11-3 in the Ivy League. The team played in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 34 years, losing to Arizona 90-50 in the first round.
Although the team did not offer any advice to its successors, senior tri-captain Jacques Vigneault believes that their presence and play are examples for the 2002-2003 squad.
“I think their performance in ’88 speaks for itself,” he said, “That’s what we’re shooting for. We want to do exactly what they did and win the Ivy League title.”
After the first game, the current team again took to the court for the intrasquad scrimmage at 5 p.m. Showing signs of fatigue from a long day, the team came up short on many of its shots, and sometimes lacked the speed and quickness it will need when it opens up its schedule in two weeks.
Overall, though, Vigneault was impressed by the team’s play.
“I think the guys played real hard,” he said. “It’s kind of tough because we have been playing against each other for a whole month now, so to come here and do it in a game situation, it’s kind of the same thing we do in practice. But the fact that the guys are still going hard and giving it everything they’ve got was nice to see.”
Head coach Steven Donahue agreed that the team put forth a lot of effort, but was concerned about conditioning, explaining that the coaching staff will be stressing stamina before opening night.
However, overall he was pleased with the team’s effort stating, “I thought they played hard, and they did some good things, and overall I thought it was a positive experience.”
Despite many short shots, a sign of fatigue, both teams worked hard on the offensive end, most notably sophomore guard A.J. Castro who netted 11 points for the White team. Freshman David Lisle also added 11 while sophomore Cody Toppert had seven points.
For the Red squad, Taylor had 12 points and six rebounds, while junior Ka’Ron Barnes had eight points and six rebounds.
Of the team’s actual play Donahue stated, “Overall I wasn’t thrilled, I wasn’t disappointed; it’s pretty typical of what we’ve been doing, and we know we have a lot of work left, and that’s what we’re going to do for the next two weeks.”
Offensively, a change was seen in Taylor, who introduced a jump shot from the foul line to try to change his fortunes at the charity stripe. On the evening, Taylor shot six for nine.
“I’ve always shot the ball well from the field, as far as jump shots, but I haven’t been able to find the touch from the line, so I’m trying to switch it up see if this will work for me,” said Taylor. “I think I shot well tonight.
“This is more like a regular shot. For some reason, for me, this seems to work better.”
With two more weeks of practice, the Red is getting ready for its opener against Buffalo on Nov. 22.
Archived article by Kristen Haunss