November 30, 2010

Men’s Hoops Falls in Return to Carrier Dome

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A matchup with the No. 8-ranked team in the country isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered for a squad looking to cure a three-game losing skid; however, that’s exactly what Cornell got yesterday night at the Carrier Dome, as the men’s basketball team came out on the losing end of a lop-sided, 78-58, affair against Syracuse. With the loss, the Red drops to 2-5 on the season while the Orange improves to 7-0. That said, listening to Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim speak in the post-game press conference, you would think his team was the one that lost by 20 points. “We just can’t seem to put consistent efforts together. … We have to somehow get better, and we’re just a long ways from where we need to be at this stage of the year. We just can’t play like this and be successful,” he said. “The second half there was nothing good about our defense. … We thought the game was over and made a lot of turnovers. … Our four best ball-handlers had 16 turnovers.”Six of those turnovers came at the hands of Scoop Jardine, who, despite shooting 0-for-5 from the floor, finished with a team-leading seven assists.  Jardine’s coach, however, was less than pleased with the junior guard’s efforts.“He was horrible. He couldn’t be any worse than he played tonight. I could get seven assists with a bad finger,” Boeheim said. “He was completely nowhere in the game. … You don’t dribble out to the 3-point line unless you’re about a 50 percent, 60 percent 3-point shooter. I wouldn’t say we have any of those guys on this team.”Despite allowing a 18-8 run that brought the Red within 11 with 14:07 to go, the Orange managed to hold Cornell to 33.9 percent overall and just 7-of-29 from 3-point range. Although he managed to finish with eight points and seven assists — not to mention four rebounds and three steals — junior guard and tri-captain Chris Wroblewski was an uncharacteristic 0-for-6 from downtown.

Syracuse, meanwhile, shot 50 percent for the game, connecting on 27.3 percent of its long-range attempts.

If there was a positive to be gleaned from Tuesday night’s contest, it was the play of sophomore guard Errick Peck. After being marred in a 3-for-15 slump over the past two games, Peck notched a team-leading 14 points — matching a career-high as the only Cornell player to score in double-figures.

He wasn’t the only one who broke out of a slump, as senior guard Max Groebe knocked down two treys in the second half — ending his streak of 16 missed field goals.

Syracuse jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with senior forward Rick Jackson finding freshman center Fab Melo for the crowd-pleasing alley-oop. Cornell was quick to respond in kind, as Wroblewski connected with Peck for an identical play.

However, that would prove the extent of Red imitating Orange, as Syracuse raced out to a 15-3 advantage while Cornell went five minutes without a field goal. The Red shot just 24 percent for the first half and hit only 1-of-12 from beyond the arc — enabling the Orange players to head into the locker room holding a commanding 21-point lead (38-17) at halftime.

“Whether it was nerves, being in the Dome and guys for the first time going out there and looking at that Syracuse crowd … guys can be a little passive, and I thought we were very passive to start the game,” said Cornell head coach Bill Courtney.

Cornell showed signs of life in the second stanza, eclipsing its first-half point total just under six minutes into the frame, thanks largely to junior guard Andrew Ferry’s back-to-back 3’s and other members of the Red heating up offensively.

However, it wasn’t enough to derail the Orange, who cruised to a comfortable 78-58 win despite 12 second-half turnovers and what Boeheim considered a lackluster defensive effort.

“We had a couple guys with open looks we just didn’t knock them down … then there were shots we started to hit in the second half, and we didn’t continue to do that,” Courtney said. “In those times we have to rely on defense, and it’s just so hard to stop those guys.”

Rebounding once again proved an issue for Cornell, who were outperformed by Syracuse, 48-27, in that department and provided the Orange with 15 second-chance opportunities.

Original Author: Alex Kuczynski-Brown