November 15, 2012

2012 M. B-BALL | Red Relies on Back Half Depth

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Last year, Cornell’s two leading scorers were the two senior captain guards, Chris Wroblewski ’12 and Drew Ferry ’12. With the gradation of both, it will obviously be hard to replace the production and leadership of both players on the court.

The Red will attempt to replace the impact of the duo by relying on great depth in the backcourt. Seniors Miles Asafo-Adjei and Johnny Gray, sophomore Galal Cancer and freshman Nolan Cressler are all expected to play big minutes at the guard positions.

“I think our depth at the guard position is something that we’ll depend on all year,” Asafo-Adjei assessed. “Against Western Michigan, it was tough for us to get started offensively, but Nolan [Cressler] came in and had a great game for us and got it started on the offensive end; this speaks to the depth we have at the guard position and all the different guys who can contribute at any time.”

Along with Wroblewski and Ferry, Max Groebe ’12 has also graduated from last year’s team — arguably the best three shooters from last year. Losing this shooting ability is not easy; although the Red will still be a threat from deep, the team plans on getting more points near the rim, according to Asafo-Adjei.

“This year, we won’t shoot as many threes as we have in the past,” Asafo-Adjei said. “A lot of our focus this year is on getting out in transition and scoring easy baskets, whether that is layups or quick post ups. However, when we have the opportunity to shoot threes, we still will. With Gray and Cressler and some other guys like [junior guard] Dom Scelfo, we’re still a good three-point shooting team, but it will not be our emphasis like it has been in the past.”

One key player to watch for this year will be Cressler, who won Ivy League Rookie of the Week after his spectacular 20 point performance. According to Asafo-Adjei, although he’s just a freshman, the Red expects huge production from him this season.

“Nolan is the first name that comes to mind,” Asafo-Adjei responded when asked who he expects to have a breakout year. “From watching him in practice, we all know what he can do, but for him to come out and drop 20 points and 6-of-8 from three in his first game was incredible and a welcome sight. If he can continue to play at that level, we’re going to do well this year.”

“[Cressler] averaged like 30 points a game in high school,” senior forward Errick Peck commented. “He can score and is a good defender as well. He’s going to give us a lot of energy off the bench … He’s going to make plays on offense and we’re glad to have him around.”

Gray will also be an intrical part in the Red’s crew of guards as he has experienced the team from on and off the court. Last season he finished sixth in the Ivy League for scoring and hopes to make that big of an impact on the court for Cornell in his last season.

“In your last year, you really want to try to be a vocal leader,” he said. “Being a leader on the floor means taking accountability for my mistakes, but at the same time correcting the freshmen’s mistakes … whatever I can do to make their game better and put them in the right direction for when I leave.”

Original Author: Albert Liao