Cornell men’s basketball opened their 2018-19 campaign with an exhibition game against crosstown Division III Ithaca College. Despite a few scares, including an 11-0 Ithaca College run which cut a 20-point halftime lead down to nine, the Red handled the Bombers easily, winning 99-61. The Red held the biggest lead of the game with 2:32 left when they opened the gap to 38 points.
Departing from previous years when senior guard and NBA prospect Matt Morgan dominated the scoring column, this game featured a well-rounded offensive attack that Cornell fans have not seen in years. The Red shot an exceptional 59 percent from the field and 15 players made it onto the score sheet. Every player on the Red bench had the opportunity to shed their warmups and play under the lights at Newman against the Bombers.
The Red struggled to contain its turnovers and defending I.C.’s perimeter-focused attack early in both halves. The Bombers launched a total of 35 threes as compared to the Red’s 22.
Although they donned the Red and White last year, Cornell fans will be delighted by the improvement of Wing players Jimmy Boeheim and Jake Kuhn who had 19 and 11 points, respectively.
“All down the line Jimmy, Jake, Bryan, Jack and everybody […] is trying to make this a special year,” said head coach Brian Earl. “They spent their summer working hard in the weight room and more specifically on the court. It’s good to see and we’ll find out more when we go against Binghamton. They’re stocked with tough guys who are bigger than us and that’s where the rubber hits the road. Jake has become a comfortable shooter, and Jimmy does a lot of different things. Even the guys who didn’t show us as much tonight might be doing more in a week.”
Earl kept a relatively tight eight-man rotation until about 12 minutes left in the second half when junior college transfer Chaz Mack entered the game. Freshman Dean Noll broke the ice for the freshman class entering the game with 6:14 left in the second half and hitting a pull-up jump shot nearly a minute after. Freshmen Dean Noll, Kobe Dickson and junior college transfer Thurston McCarty all also made their mark on the score sheet.
Players to Watch
Red fans should keep a watchful eye on Morgan as he enters his final season in Ithaca. Morgan has spurred the Cornell offense for the past three years with his prolific scoring. With his recent improved athleticism and growth as a leader, Cornell basketball fans should expect a lot from Morgan following the departure of Stone Gettings.
Senior combo guard Troy Whiteside should play an important role for the Red this year. After posting a stellar sophomore season, Whiteside missed his entire junior season due to injury. Whiteside will look to bring senior leadership and stability to an otherwise young and inexperienced squad.
Two other players that should be keys for the Red this season are sophomores Jimmy Boeheim and Jake Kuhn. The two rangy and athletic wings have the ability to put up points in bunches from all three levels, defend guards and forwards and protect the rim with their exceptional length and athleticism.
The Red will kick off their regular season on Nov. 6, at Binghamton with tip off at 7 p.m. The Red will return to Ithaca and Newman Arena for their home opener against Division III SUNY Canton as part of the Central New York Classic on Nov. 8, with tip off at 7 p.m.