January 23, 2012

M. BASKETBALL | Poor Play Leads to Loss Against Lions

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The Cornell men’s basketball team continued its inconsistent play on the road this Saturday, experiencing its ninth consecutive loss as it fell to the Columbia Lions, 61-56. Despite the Red (6-11, 1-2 Ivy League) playing one of its finest defensive games of the year, Columbia’s (12-7, 1-2) advantage on the boards and the Red’s poor shooting were too much to overcome.

“We had solid defense. We held them to 39 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “[Offensively], we had great opportunities and good open looks. We just need to hit shots. We’re struggling with that right now and we have to continue to take open shots and build up our confidence and just put it in the basket.”

The Lions held the rebounding advantage, 45-29, primarily due to the play of Columbia center Mark Cisco, who scored 18 points and grabbed 20 rebounds along with three assists and two blocks. He was named the Ivy League’s Player of the Week due to his performance.

“[Cisco] got 20 rebounds — that’s very impressive,” senior guard and co-captain Chris Wroblewski said. “We just didn’t do a good job [on the boards] as they outrebounded us by [16], which is unacceptable. It is one of our weaknesses and it’s a point of emphasis wherever we play. It was one of the key factors in the game against Columbia … but all the credit to Mark Cisco, he had a heck of a game.”

“We must do a better job of blocking out,” Courtney said. “We put a body on him, but he’s such a big strong player, so he kind of just knocked us out of the way. We have to be much more physical with our bigs.”

Along with Cisco’s great play, Columbia’s starting guards, Brian Barbour and Meiko Lyles, performed well, scoring 14 and 15 points, respectively. They frequently penetrated the Cornell defense and created opportunities.

“[Barbour and Lyles] had too much ability to get into the lane and make plays,” Wroblewski said. “We guarded them very well for the first 20 seconds of every shot clock, but then we kind of just collapsed for the last 15 seconds and they [would make] a play. We wore ourselves out playing great defense for 20 seconds, but … we have to finish off possessions a little stronger.”The other key factor in the loss was the Red’s poor shooting, going 4-of-19 from 3 and shooting just 34 percent from the field. Wroblewski’s unexpected struggles shooting the ball played a role in the defeat, as the senior captain went 0-for-7 from 3.“I couldn’t tell you, I really don’t know,” Courtney said when asked about Wroblewski’s shooting woes. “He’s getting extra shots up right now … He has just got to work through it. There’s nothing we can do about it, just tell him to take open shots and hopefully they’ll fall, since that’s a big part of what we do.”After being one of the most feared shooters in the Ivy League and shooting over 43 percent from downtown for the past three seasons, Wroblewski refuses to let the start of this season alter his approach to the game.“I have played basketball for my entire life and I consider myself a shooter,” Wroblewski said. “I don’t think the last 10 games of my career will make me say all of a sudden I’m not a 3-point shooter; that would be ridiculous.”The Red’s shooting troubles are not limited to Wroblewski. Stand-out freshmen Galal Cancer (3-for-10 from the field) and Shonn Miller (0-for-4 from the field) also contributed to the problem. However, Courtney applauded the energy they brought to the game and understood the ups and downs all freshmen go through.“[Both freshmen] have done very well and have really figured it out right now and how hard they have to play every day,” Courtney said. “They might not have a great game every day, but they’re playing hard and giving tremendous effort [and] they’ll continue to improve.”“I think each game is a great experience with them and they’ll only get better,” Wroblewski agreed. “I know when I was a freshman, each experience gave me more confidence and more comfort on the court and I think those two have such great raw talent and just an unlimited ceiling of potential. I think they’ll just continue to grow and I don’t see them taking a step backwards. They are two of the most talented players on the team and we depend on them a lot and I think they’ll deliver for us.”However, not everyone struggled offensively in this game. Senior guard and co-captain Drew Ferry hit 5-of-9 from the field and 3-of-6 from downtown, while junior guard Johnny Gray played 33 minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds with one steal.Cornell will look to avenge its loss next weekend as it plays Columbia again on Saturday, this time at home in Newman Nation.

Original Author: Albert Liao