February 20, 2004

Cagers Still Hunting for First

Print More

The grind ain’t over yet. While the men’s basketball team suffered a pair of tough losses last weekend, the Ivy schedule won’t give it more than a week to think about it. Things keep right on rolling when Dartmouth and Harvard visit Newman Arena this weekend to finish their season series against the Red.

With the games, Cornell (10-11, 5-3 Ivy) has the chance to pull itself back into the Ivy race after falling from first to fourth place following defeats by Princeton and Penn. Head coach Steve Donahue isn’t worried about the team, though.

“I think we’re really focused on getting victories,” said Donahue about this weekend.

The Red should have ample opportunity. Dartmouth enters the contest tonight coming off a 84-64 drubbing at the hands of Brown. The Green are in the midst of a 12 game losing streak and currently sit at last place in the league with a 1-7 conference mark and a 3-19 overall record.

Donahue noted, however, that Dartmouth’s record belies its scoring ability.

“They’ve been a good offensive team this year,” he said. “We’ve got our hands full defending them.”

Cornell beat the Green 68-62 at the team’s last meeting in Hanover on January 31.

Ivy League Rookie of the Week, guard Leon Pattman, leads the way for Dartmouth with 13.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Parity reigns for the young Green squad, which has five players averaging six or more points per game. Twelve of the fourteen men on the team’s varsity roster have started at least one game.

On Saturday the Red matches up against Harvard. The Crimson sits one spot ahead of Dartmouth in the league, in seventh place with a 2-6 Ivy record and a 3-18 mark overall.

“They’ve played well the past couple of weeks,” noted Donahue.

On Saturday the Crimson beat Yale 78-71 to end a six game skid.

Junior guard Kevin Rogus leads the team with 15.1 points per game, while sophomore forward Matt Stehle is second with 13.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Point guard Michael Beal also distributes the rock for Harvard with a respectable 3.2 assists per game.

Despite the team’s poor records and the Red’s home floor advantage, Donahue said his team needs to be at the top of its game for both contests.

“We have a great deal of respect for both programs,” he said, noting the strength of coaching for both teams.

Leading the way for the Red will be senior guard Ka’Ron Barnes, with 21.0 points and 4.8 assists per game, tops in the Ivies. Backing him up will be junior hoop-assassin and second leading scorer Cody Toppert, with 16.7 points per game, and junior captain Eric Taylor, the league’s leading rebounder with 7.5 rpg.

Offense won’t be the main concern for Cornell, though, this weekend. While the team is scoring enough, the D remains an area of concern.

“I’ve been a little disappointed with our defense in the half court,” said Donahue, “and in the transition too.”

To that end, the team has been practicing with an eye towards making stops this weekend. If it can do that against both teams, the Red should have a good chance of coming away with a pair of victories and a renewed stake in the Ivy standings.

“Our guys understand they need to win these two games to stay in the Ivy race,” said Donahue, “And they want to sweep these teams too, because that’s something we haven’t been able to do in a long time.”

Indeed, the season continues, Friday and Saturday at 7:00 in the Newman Arena.

The Ivy race is far from over.

Archived article by Matt James