Sophomore Adam Gore did not wait long to let the Ivy League basketball world know how dangerous he could be with the ball in his hands. In just the second game of his collegiate career, Gore scored 22 points — including six 3-pointers — in a tightly contested 67-62 loss to then No. 16 Syracuse. Now, on the eve of his second campaign, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year will look to use his scoring prowess to propel the Red to the top of the Ancient Eight.
“Last year, [Gore] was the catalyst throughout the whole season,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “This year we have more pieces that can help him but he has to play well for us to be really good.”
Gore’s importance to the team was apparent from the outset, as the then-freshman scored in double digits in each of his first five games, resulting in two Cornell wins. Yet, as the Indiana native continued pouring in 3-pointers — Gore was held scoreless from beyond the arc in only one contest last season — teams began taking note and as a result, the Red’s marksman became a marked man.
“I was able to get shots,” Gore said. “They were just more contested with defenses hanging on me.”
With increased pressure from opposing defenses came the need for the 6-0 guard to take an active role in the offense, particularly late in the game. However, as a freshman, Gore often got lost in the shuffle offensively and drifted in and out of play at the end of games.
“I thought last year he didn’t understand that we needed him to score,” Donahue said. “Teams were able to take him out of the game because he was young, and he allowed them to.”
Gore, for his part, recognized this shortcoming and will be conscious of his presence at crunch time.
“I’m keeping in the back of my mind to stay in games at the end,” Gore said. “Now I know my position on the team and I am going to try extra hard to contribute and be there to make a play instead of just a bystander.”
After setting a school record and leading the Ivy League with 83 three-pointers last season, Gore will also look to evolve from a guard who constantly took the long-range shot into a threat to slash through the lane and get to the basket.
“I worked a lot on ball-handling in the off-season and I’m going to try and get to the hole more this season,” Gore said. “My mindset is to get to create more and try to get to the foul-line as well.”
Also, in an effort to provide Gore with more looks at the basket than the 198 3-pointers he attempted last season, the Red has been working on creating an effective transition offense.
“Our ‘early offense’ is based on getting [Gore] quick looks in transition because he’s very good,” Donahue said. “They can’t put bigger guards on him and he gets a chance to go against a defense that’s not set.”
Although Gore realizes his need to score baskets, his sights for the season are on much bigger things.
“I think we can win the Ivy championship this year,” Gore said. “We have a great group of guys and a lot of talent and we’ve been working hard towards this goal.”