February 18, 2010

Here We Go Again

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The men’s basketball team has a golden opportunity to make people forget last weekend’s stunning loss to Penn. The Red (21-4, 7-1 Ivy) face the Harvard Crimson (17-5, 6-2 Ivy) in Cambridge, Mass., tonight. A Cornell win would firmly place the Red in the driver’s seat in its quest for a third-straight Ivy League title.

“It’s a big game,” said senior guard Lou Dale. “[Harvard is] right there in the race for the [Ivy League] Championship and so are we. We definitely want to stay on top of the Ivy League standings.”

Cornell dominated Harvard to the tune of an 86-50 victory when the teams squared off in Ithaca on Jan. 30. Cornell scored 16 unanswered points to turn a 19-17 lead into a blowout in that game.

“I think we were able to come out and play great defense,” Dale said. “We were very active and aggressive. I think our defense really carried us in that game.”

Senior center Jeff Foote cited Harvard’s youth, travel schedule and Cornell’s crowd as potential sources of Harvard’s poor play. Four of Harvard’s top eight scorers are freshman, while two others are sophomores.

“I didn’t think Harvard played its best game,” Foote said. “There were probably a bunch of factors that really led to them not playing their best game. We take a little bit of credit because we came in ready to play and there was a lot of hype for the game, but I don’t think we got Harvard’s best shot.”

Despite the Crimson’s youth, it is senior Jeremy Lin who has been the source of national attention. Lin has yet to score 20 points in a conference game this season (after scoring 30 at UConn), but he still leads his team with 16.7 points and 4.6 assists per game. He was recently announced as a finalist for the Cousy Award, given annually to the nation’s top point guard. He scored 19 points, but was forced into eight turnovers earlier this season against Cornell.

Tomorrow, the Red will travel to New Hampshire, where the team will face Dartmouth’s struggling squad. The Green (4-18, 0-8 Ivy) has played some close games at home, but the team is clearly not on the Red’s level. Cornell defeated Dartmouth 71-37 last month.

While the Red appears to have a major edge, the team cannot afford to discount Dartmouth the same way the team overlooked Penn last weekend. Both Dale and Foote acknowledged that the team was humbled by its loss to Penn.

“[Dartmouth is] in a similar boat as Penn [significant underdogs against Cornell] and Penn beat us by 15,” Foote said. “In the Ivy League, you can’t look past any game. When you do, what happens is what happened at Penn last weekend and we’ll lose.”

The loss to Penn cost Cornell its national ranking. Two wins this weekend could allow the Red to reclaim a spot in the Coaches’ Poll; however, Dale claims his team is not concerned with its national ranking.

“I think our goal right now is just to win the Ivy League,” he said. “We’re not really worried about anything else. All the ranking-type stuff will kind of take care of itself. We’ve got to win the Ivy League if we want to go to the [NCAA] tournament.”

Original Author: Zack Slabotsky