February 6, 2007

W. Cagers Regroup After Losses

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In some instances, a team may throw in the towel following a midseason setback. On the other hand, a team might instead use the setback as motivation to reach its fullest potential. For the women’s basketball team, that crossroads may appear in its next few games.

After starting its Ivy League schedule with a perfect 4-0 record for the first time in program history, the Red (8-11, 4-2 Ivy), dropped a pair of games to Harvard and Dartmouth this past weekend. With the defeats, Cornell dropped from first to third place in the conference standings, a half game behind Princeton and Harvard.

“We’re disappointed,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “The team is going to be hungry after this. … It’s what we do now that matters, and I think we have the character to grow from this.”
[img_assist|nid=21152|title=Pivot foot|desc=Freshman Lauren Benson (23) makes a move in Cornell’s 71-57 loss to Harvard on Saturday.|link=none|align=left|width=67|height=100]
Coming into this past weekend’s play, the Red was riding a strong wave of momentum, having won eight of its previous 10 contests. However, it was the same familiar ailments — issues that the team had appeared to overcome during its winning streak — that led to the defeats.

On Friday against Dartmouth, the Red built a double-digit advantage in the first half before the Green shut down the Cornell offense using a press defense. With the Red committing several costly turnovers — it had 19 for the game — Dartmouth completed a 60-56 come-from-behind win. A day later, Harvard used a 40-26 advantage on the boards to propel itself to a 71-57 win.

“We were disappointed with our rebounding and we have to do a better job of quickly adjusting to new defensive sets,” Smith said. “Before this weekend, we were working together, and we really knew where everyone was on the court. We strayed from that in these games.”

Realizing that her team did not play its very best basketball against Dartmouth and Harvard, Smith is excited about the Red’s potential for the rest of the season.

Further, with the parity in the Ivy League this season — currently the top-6 teams in the conference are separated by just a game and a half — she is encouraged by the team’s potential success.

“We didn’t play well or execute this weekend. … We lost mainly because of what we did,” Smith said. “Though we’re disappointed with that effort, we know that anybody can compete in the Ivy League this year. We are excited about the opportunities that it creates.”

And, although Smith maintains that her team’s focus needs to be on its current upcoming games, she does look forward to having the chance to seek revenge on Dartmouth and Harvard later this season.

“Every game is important and we need to focus on next weekend for now,” Smith said. “It does come to mind though that we’ll get to play them again. I think whenever you lose to a team and play them again, you highlight that date on your calendar.”