Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

While the Red struggled on both ends of the court, it believes that focusing in on defense will naturally lead to offensive gains.

November 17, 2017

Poor Defensive Effort Plagues Men’s Basketball Against Colgate

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With a combination of appalling shooting and lack of defensive effort on Thursday, the Cornell men’s basketball team fell in a 72-61 decision at Colgate and slipped to 1-2 on the season.

A balanced Colgate attack helped the Raiders go up as much as 10 points in the early going, but the Red responded quite well in the second half by cutting the lead to 40-36. However, the Red’s defense visibly began to crumble as Colgate quickly pushed its lead back out to 19 points and crushed any hopes of the comeback win.

“I don’t think our defense should ever be negotiable [but] I’d say it was for a couple minutes there in the second half,” Earl said. “We [also] forced some bad looks, missed some open shots, and our defense suffered because we were getting impatient and trying to do too much offensively while also defensively [trying] to stop them.”

The Red also struggled shooting the ball all night, going 36% from the field and a dismal 19% from behind the arc. The sole offensive high point for the Red came from sophomore guard Matt Morgan’s 23 point outing, which notably propelling him to number 20 and number 6 on Cornell’s all time scoring and 3-pointers made list respectively.

“We had a rough [offense] last night, but there weren’t any glaring [errors] besides missing shots,” head coach Brian Earl said. “You get to see what we can do a little bit better here and there, but a lot of it was missing open [shots].”

While the Red evidently struggled at both ends of the floor on Thursday, the defensive end especially stood out as as a point of emphasis. Although the team is unable to control its offensive production from night to night, there is a sense of optimism that an improved defense will greatly aid in earning easy points in transition.

“If we can get stops, then we can run out in transition and that’s where the majority of our offense can be created,” Morgan said. “As long as we stay sound defensively, our offense will take care of itself.”

In addition, the team is confident that both offensive and defensive gains will come as chemistry improves over the course of the season.

“Overall guys are working hard and they’re excited to work whether it be on defense or offense,” Gettings said. “It’s just a matter of playing with each other and building that chemistry [and] eventually it’s going to click.”

As the Red looks to improve its defensive effort in its next game against UMass Lowell, the team will be falling back to recorded tapes to pinpoint defensive shortcomings.

“Defensively, we’ll watch some video to make sure we understand how we want to guard: don’t gamble, stay in front of your man, make sure they’re taking the shots we want them to take, [and] get[ting] back to the basics,” Earl said.

Fans will have a chance to see if the Red will be able to revamp its defensive effort when it tips off on the road against UMass Lowell this Sunday at 1pm.