November 17, 2011

MEN’S BASKETBALL | Frosh, Vets Slide Into Post

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After losing two key contributors from the frontcourt — forwards Aaron Osgood ’11 and Mark Coury ’11 — the Red will need players to step up to fill the void.

Junior Errick Peck is the only returning forward to average more than 10 minutes a game last year. The 6-6 forward recorded 11.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 2010-11 season, but is currently out of the lineup due to injury.

Juniors Eitan Chemerinski and Josh Figini are two players that expect to see a major increase in playing time this year.

“Eitan and I worked really hard over the summer, especially in the weight room, to get a little bigger,” Figini said. “Basically, we have to step in and continue what [Osgood and Coury] were doing, as far as defense and offensive production. We learned a lot from [the seniors] the last couple years, so we’re really excited to show what we can do.”

In addition to the two juniors, sophomore forward Dwight Tarwater, who missed all but seven games last season due to injuries, will help out in the frontcourt. Tarwater has earned a starting spot in the team’s opening games alongside Chemerinski.

“I think he’ll have a really big impact on both ends of the floor,” Figini said of Tarwater. “He’s a really strong kid and a good rebounder. We’re really excited to see how he can contribute to our season this year.”

The freshman class also figures to see extended playing time, and the rookies have been very impressive thus far, according to Figini.

“It’s a really talented freshman class and I really think they’ll have an impact both now and in the future,” he said. “They’re all on their way to developing into really great players and are all great athletes and great fits for our team.”

“They’ve been great. They are learning [the system] … and getting more comfortable in our offense,” Chemerinski added. “They’re big and athletic and I think they will be able to make really big contributions this year.”

The rookie expected to see the most playing time is Shonn Miller, a 6-7 forward who has impressed his teammates early on.

“[Miller] is a really athletic player, but he is also a great shooter and has great skills,” Figini said. “Sometimes you just see really athletic players who can’t shoot or handle the ball, but he can do both. He’ll be able to come off the bench this year and really have an impact.”

One of the biggest weaknesses of Cornell’s frontcourt is its lack of size, as the roster does not feature any players taller than 6-9. The Red will need to rely on a team effort to negate this disadvantage on the boards, according to Chemerinski.

“There’s always a big focus in practice on boxing out and … rebounding [in general],” he said. “Something coaches talk a lot about is group rebounding. We’re going to need the guards to come in and get rebounds as well.”

The forwards will have to exert maximum effort defending opposing frontcourts in order to minimize the Red’s size disadvantage, Figini said.

“It’s just defensive intensity and help-side defense,” he explained. “We’re going to be playing a lot of guys who are bigger than Eitan and [myself] this year, so that just means we will have to work that much harder to stop their frontcourt players.”

Although the guards are still considered the strong point for the Red, the team will need its big men to perform well in order to make any noise in the Ivy League, according to Figini.

“The frontcourt is going to be pretty important to our game,” he said. “It is going to open up the floor [for our team] and our shooters especially.”

Original Author: Albert Liao