November 14, 2008

Conditioning Will Help Bigs Dominate

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Though the guard/big man relationship has often taken center stage in elite basketball — Cornell has grasped the importance of chemistry in the post. The men’s basketball team has developed its own oversized combo in senior center Jeff Foote and junior forward Alex Tyler.
A key component of last year’s success was the play of Tyler, who started in 27 of 28 games, and Foote, who came off the bench in 22 games.
Tyler is known to pounce on opportunities. This aggressive style led to 11 steals last year, but also the third-highest turnover total (45). Along with classmate Louis Dale, he led the team with 2.9 fouls per game, fouling out three times.
“I think I just need to be a little bit smarter at the beginning of games,” Tyler said.
Head coach Steve Donahue, however, emphasized the importance of Tyler’s energy.
“[He has an] ability to score down low when nothing is going,” Donahue said. “He’s got such good strength and size.”
Tyler and Foote have been working together on improving strength and conditioning.
“I think [Foote will] be better defensively,” Donahue said. “He’ll be a better finisher, [and] I think you’ll see better conditioning. Last year, two or three times up and down the court I’d probably give him a rest.”
After averaging 21.5 minutes last year, the 7-0 center expects to get 25 to 30 minutes per game this season and be able to run the court more.
“I had a surgery on my nose over the summer because I had real bad nasal problems,” Foote said. “We got that all fixed up and that helps a lot. I feel in much better shape.”