In sports, as in all things, it’s not so much how you start as it is how you finish. The men’s basketball team will take that axiom to heart this weekend as it battles Yale and Brown in the last two games of the season. The Red (11-14, 6-6 Ivy) is in position to secure the program’s first finish in the upper tier of the Ivy League since 1997-98, needing only to beat Yale to clinch at least a tie for fourth.
The Bulldogs come to the East Hill with an identical record (11-14, 6-6 Ivy) and a six-game winning streak against Cornell, including a 67-48 woodshed job on February 7th. A physical team, Yale boasts two players averaging double figures in scoring — juniors Edwin Draughan and Dominick Martin.
“Yale’s a team with not a lot of respect for us,” said junior Cody Toppert. “Respect isn’t given, it’s earned, and we have to come out and beat them. We have to make them respect Cornell basketball.”
Season standings aside, the Red has a lot to play for this weekend. Saturday’s tip-off against Brown (13-12, 9-3 Ivy) will mark the final regular-season game for co-captain Ka’Ron Barnes.
“The season went by so fast; it’s set in some that these are my last games,” said Barnes. “It probably won’t hit me until I’m sitting in the locker room afterward.”
One of the Ancient Eight’s best players and Cornell’s on-court leader, Barnes has the chance to leave a lasting legacy on the Big Red record books. The senior point guard needs only 48 points to become the single-season scoring king with 558. With 50 points, he will move into third place on Cornell’s career scoring list with 1,412. Three assists will put Barnes in fourth place for his career, while 11 steals will put him in sole possession of second place.
Despite these individual milestones, Barnes remains focused on what is truly important — his team.
“First, we just have to make sure we win these games. I’ve always said that if you win, everything else falls into place,” said Barnes. “It’s an honor to be in position to break all these records, but it’ll be something that I’ll think about after the season.”
Barnes is not the only Red player with a chance at history. Sophomore Lenny Collins needs seven steals to set a new season record with 55. Toppert can become the first Cornellian to hit 80 3-pointers in a season if he connects on seven this weekend.
“Shoot, I didn’t even know I was close to doing that,” said Toppert. “I’m going to have to knock a couple down and get us some wins that way.”
Tonight’s game against Yale begins at 7 p.m. in Newman Arena. Before Saturday’s 7 p.m. tip-off against Brown, Barnes will be honored as Cornell’s graduating senior.
Archived article by Per Ostman