November 25, 2003

Basketball Looks to Start Revenge Tour Tonight

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After a well-earned day of rest, the men’s basketball team will lace ’em up again tonight as the Red takes on Colgate at 7:00 p.m. in Newman Arena. Cornell (0-1, 0-0 Ivy) leads the all-time series 68-50, but has lost its matchup with the Raiders (0-1, 0-0 Patriot) each of the last two seasons.

“We lost to them last year, and they handled us pretty easily,” said junior center and co-captain Eric Taylor. “We haven’t played well in the Colgate game the past two years.”

Cornell will look to buck that recent trend tonight in the team’s second contest of the year. Coming off a hard-fought loss in its home opener against Georgia Tech on Sunday, the Red have had only a single day to recover. On Sunday all five Cornell starters played at least 31 minutes, with senior co-captain Ka’Ron Barnes missing only one minute of the contest. The team, however, isn’t worried about its physical state.

“It’s too early in the season to be tired at all, and we did have a rest day [yesterday],” said Taylor.

“We’re all used to playing back-to-back games, because that’s how the league works,” added junior forward Gabe Stephenson. “This is the kind of game we need to win if we expect to make the NCAA tournament — playing a team like this on our home court with not a lot of rest.”

The real issue is not with physical fatigue, but more as to how easily the Red will be able to come down from the emotional high of its season-opener, which drew over 4,100 fans to Newman Arena.

“I’m more concerned with where their heads are mentally,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “We’re coming out of that atmosphere of excitement on Sunday and we have to be mentally ready to get it done on Tuesday.”

Standing in Cornell’s way is Colgate senior forward Howard Blue, who had 23 points and 14 rebounds in the Raiders’ opening loss to Princeton. The 6-7, 240 -pound bruiser has had success against the Red, scoring 17 points in last season’s 76-58 victory over Cornell.

“We’ve got to deny him the ball, especially on the low block,” said Taylor. “He’ll be a key for them. Last year, he played well against us and we lost.”

The Red has accounted for Blue in its gameplan and will call upon Stephenson, at 6-8 and 230 pounds, to contain him at the start of the game. Stephenson will hope to cut down on Blue’s rebound total from the Princeton game, eight of which were on the offensive end.

“He’s very good at using his size down low,” said Stephenson. “I’ll have to come out and play harder than him to neutralize him.

“I pride myself on my rebounding; that’s what I do for this team. I think I can keep him off the glass better than Princeton.”

Ultimately, the outcome of the game will come down to the energy and focus the Red brings to the floor. Called “Game 1 of our Revenge Tour” by Stephenson, the team wants to make a statement in tonight’s game.

“These guys know what we need to do,” said Donahue. “They’re hungry to compete. If they go out and work hard, they’ll get a win.”

“We’re ready for the challenge,” said Stephenson.

Archived article by Per Ostman