February 18, 2005

Ivy Title Still in Reach

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After riding high for much of the season, the men’s basketball team (10-11, 5-3 Ivy) hit a major stumbling block in its loss to Penn (14-7, 7-0 Ivy) last weekend. Despite the Red’s impressive play this season as it vies for its first Ivy title since 1989, the Quakers have continued to be the dominant team in the conference.

Even with its disheartening loss to Penn last weekend, the Red still overcame a tough opponent when it beat Princeton, 66-58.

“[Beating Princeton] definitely gives us a lot of confidence,” said Cornell senior captain Eric Taylor.

This weekend, the Red continues its quest for Ivy gold as the squad heads for Hanover, N.H. tonight to meet Dartmouth (6-15, 3-5 Ivy). The Red triumphed over the Green, 63-58, three weeks ago on Jan. 30. Cornell will then travel to meet Harvard (9-12, 4-4 Ivy) tomorrow. The last time the Red faced the Crimson, Harvard beat Cornell, 74-65.

“[Harvard] has won four games in the league, [while Dartmouth] has won three already,” said Cornell head coach Steve Donahue. “They both were very tough games here, so we expect to have our hands full.”

Cornell has struggled on defense all season, and this trend has continued against its Ivy opponents recently. The Red is last in the conference in points against per game with 66.

“I think we have to defend a whole lot better,” Donahue said. “I think we have to challenge shots better…[However], I think you have to score to beat these teams, and that’s what we’ve been working on.”

The last time the Red faced the Green, it won by a slim, five-point margin. Despite its record, the Green is a legitimate threat. Junior Mike Lang is having an impressive season after being injured in the middle of the Green’s 2003-04 campaign. Lang is seventh in the Ivies with a .402 three-point shooting percentage, and eighth in the conference, shooting .454 from the field.

In addition, the Green has a powerful center/forward combination in junior Calvin Arnold and senior David Gardner — 6-9 and 6-10 respectively. This presented a problem for Cornell the last time the two squads met.

“[Dartmouth] has experience, particularly on the front line with Gardner and Arnold,” Donahue said.

Third place Harvard, which is only a single game behind the Red in the standings, has already beaten Cornell this season. Besides Penn, the Crimson is the only team that the Red has failed to beat this season in the Ivies. Harvard, like the Red, is coming off of a weekend split.

The Crimson has a number of threats. Like Dartmouth, Harvard has good size and experience up front with sophomore Brian Cusworth, who leads the Ivies in rebounds (9.5 rpg), and junior Matt Stehle.

“It doesn’t surprise me that [Harvard] has been very competitive in the league, even though most people expected them to be at the bottom,” Donahue said. “They’ve proved otherwise that they can play with anybody and beat anybody.”

However, Taylor was quick to not give the Crimson too much respect.

“That game against Harvard, I didn’t feel we should have lost that game at home, so we’re definitely looking for revenge,” Taylor said.

Archived article by Mike Pandolfini
Sun Staff Writer