February 11, 2003

Hoopsters Need Love, Too

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The majority of Cornell’s affection was concentrated on the men’s hockey team this weekend, and rightfully so. The icers finally beat Dartmouth and reclaimed their place as one of the top teams in the country.

However, I don’t want to discuss the hockey team in this column. It’s nothing personal. I just feel that the men’s basketball team also deserves a share of attention for its weekend, regardless of the fact that it lost twice this weekend and hasn’t won since Jan. 25. Because despite the loss, what I saw Friday night in Newman Arena gives me plenty of reason to smile.

Penn’s annual trip to Ithaca was supposed to be a cakewalk. The Red had just been decimated by Brown and Yale at home a week before, the Quakers were on a roll, and All-Ivy point guard Andy Toole was back in the lineup after missing a game with an ankle injury. Instead, it was anything but.

The differences between the Cornell team that played Brown and Yale and the Cornell team that played Penn were like night and day. The shooting was drastically improved, the ball movement was excellent, and the defense was meticulous.

And the fans took notice.

At halftime of the basketball game, I rushed next door to Lynah Rink to beg my friends to come over to Newman after the hockey team finished punishing Dartmouth. “Please come,” I implored them. “The basketball team is only down 38-34 and they’re actually being competitive with Penn.”

Well, they came, as did many fans from Lynah. And over the last five minutes of the game, what I saw was remarkable. Newman Arena was filled almost to capacity, it was noisy, it was electric. I felt like I was in Madison Square Garden