February 28, 2003

M. Basketball Completes Home Schedule

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The men’s basketball team will appear at Newman Arena for the final time this season when it hosts Harvard tonight and Dartmouth tomorrow on Senior Night. The saying “familiarity breeds contempt” will be put to the test this weekend, as the Red (8-15, 3-7 Ivy) will be facing these two Ivy foes for the second time in three weeks.

Last weekend, the Red dropped a pair against Yale and Brown despite receiving a 30-point effort from junior tri-captain Ka’Ron Barnes against Brown. Barnes has been on a roll over the Red’s past five games, averaging 20.6 points. He was named to the Ivy League honor roll this past week after his big offensive showing. He scored 19 of his 30 points in the second half, while Brown’s Earl Hunt — the league’s leading scorer — put up 20 in the game.

The previous night, Yale manhandled the Red, 70-52, behind a dominant first half on the offensive end.

“I liked how we came out Saturday after playing a bad basketball game on Friday night in my opinion,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “Yale gets a lot of credit for that. They came after us, and we did not compete well enough, particularly early.”

Barnes’ offensive outburst came a week after he totaled his previous career high of 25 in the Red’s 82-69 win over Harvard. In addition to Barnes, sophomores Eric Taylor and Cody Toppert scored 15 and 12 points, respectively.

The win represented a coming-out party for freshmen David Lisle and Lenny Collins, who combined for 17 points, while Collins posted a career-high six assists and four steals on the game.

“We bounced back from a bad effort,” Donahue commented on that game. “They played hard, and I think we matched that intensity. We had a great poise about us the whole game. We went about our offense correct, we stepped up, we made the right decisions, and then we guarded very well.”

The Crimson (11-12, 3-7) enters the game after losing games last weekend to Ancient Eight powers Penn and Princeton. Guard Elliott Prasse-Freeman recorded a double-double against Penn, racking up 13 points and 10 rebounds. Prasse-Freeman leads the league with 7.7 assists per game, which ranks fourth in the nation. He is the Ivy League’s all-time leader with 676.

In addition, Brady Merchant dropped 22 points on Princeton Saturday night, as Harvard nearly came back from an 11-point deficit to tie the game late.

Still, despite the win last time out, the Red is aware that the Crimson will again be a serious threat.

“I think the guys just respect Harvard so much and they understand that they have to play very well to beat any team in our league at this point,” said Donahue. “I would use it as an advantage, coming home after four road games.”

Tomorrow night the Red will host Dartmouth (6-17, 2-8) in an attempt to atone for its 65-56 loss Feb. 14 in Hanover. Despite a career-high 13 points by Lisle and 14 rebounds by Collins, the Green took advantage of hot outside shooting to sink the Red. Forward Mike McLaren shot 6-10 from beyond the arc to contribute to his game-high 22 points in the win.

“I think Dartmouth came out and brought a lot more energy to the court than we did,” said Toppert. “We were just really stagnant and we let that affect the way we played. I think that’s one key is that we need to make sure that we pick up the defensive intensity.”

Two weeks ago, Cornell outrebounded the Green 40-30, a task that might be difficult to repeat this week with the absence of sophomore center Chris Vandenberg.

Vandenberg sat out both games last weekend after hinthntinued to experience pain in his troublesome left knee. He is not expected to play this weekend or next weekend.

“He gives Eric minutes off and keeps him fresh, which in turn keeps Gabe Stephenson fresh,” said Donahue. “You could play Gabe at the four a little bit, he’s a little bigger, and Lenny can play the three, it has a domino effect. So that was part of the comfort level. We got outrebounded again for the first time. I think that all plays into it.”

However, the key will continue to be the Red’s ability to pick its spots and play the fundamental parts of the game well.

“We followed our game plan like we needed to [against Brown], we shot like we needed to, we were patient,” said Toppert. “Just the little intangible things that really don’t show up in the box score are the things we need to work on.”

Archived article by Owen Bochner