I've done some trading Brian Delaney
of the Ithaca Journal
about the Cornell/UAlbany season-opening basketball game that takes place on Friday.
I posed some questions to Brian and here were his answers about the Big Red.
1. What is the philosophy of new coach Bill Courtney (i.e. will he change the team's style of play)?
Early indications are Courtney wants to push the pace offensively, similar to Steve Donahue's style, and play a more high-energy, pressure defense that takes a lot of charges and harasses teams. Courtney's got a deep bench at his disposal, and a pretty athletic team by Ivy League standards, to try and successfully pull that style off. Playing to the strengths of his returning personnel, I think Courtney will encourage his team to aggressively shoot the 3 once again.
2. Cornell went to the Sweet 16 last year. What are realistic expectations for the Big Red this season?
Realistically, I think Cornell remains a competitive Ivy League team that defends its home court and uses the non-conference schedule as a means of preparing for the league schedule. There are no thoughts of being a top 25 team with this group, but they believe they can still challenge for an Ivy championship and an NCAA tournament berth. Getting into the tournament this year would be a significant accomplishment.
3. How good is Chris Wroblewski? Will he be ready to play on Friday (ankle)?
Wroblewski is likely to be a game-time decision for Friday night. He sprained an ankle in a scrimmage two Saturdays ago. He's deceptively good - not overly quick, but smart with angles when he's driving to the basket; great court vision; tough; poised; He's a 45-percent 3-point shooter. Last year, he was the fourth or fifth scoring option and burned teams when they paid less than full attention to him - he had 22 against Seton Hall and 22 against Syracuse. The question this year is, can he be consistently productive as teams focus on him? Cornell doesn't need him to be a 20-points per game guy. But if he can get 10-15 a night while organizing offensive sets and getting a lot of assists/hockey assists - he'll be a player of the year candidate in the Ivy.
4. Which players have been surprising, good or bad?
I've been impressed with Josh Figini, a 6-9 sophomore. He's added weight and strength and benefited from getting his tail kicked in by Jeff Foote all last year. He's a good pick-and-pop guy, and Cornell will be able to stretch teams out with him on the floor. He's someone that probably helps more down the road as opposed to right away. Another sophomore, Miles Asafo-Adjei, has improved quite a bit as Chris Wroblewski's back-up. His enthusiasm and positive attitude are infectious - an easy-to-predict captain-in-the-making down the line.
Ask Bill Courtney this question, and he'll point to two seniors having had strong camps: 6-5 Adam Wire and 6-9 Aaron Osgood. Wire was a staple of the past two championship teams. He's built like an NFL tight end, is a great defender and rebounder and does a ton of little things. Fans don't always notice his contributions; opposing coaches do. Osgood didn't crack the rotation is first three years, but he'll be needed this year.
I don't think there are any bad surprises to be named - just unknowns because so many guys on this team haven't logged enough game minutes. For instance, where does Anthony Gatlin, a 6-8 transfer from Centenary, fit in? How about Andrew Ferry, a 6-2 junior college transfer?
5. What is this team's biggest strength/weakness?
Strengths: 3-point shooting; passing; offensive chemistry; team intelligence; team unselfishness; players have been reared in a winning culture.
Weaknesses: Depth at point guard; size in the frontcourt; a proven offensive post presence; lack of a shot-blocker.
Labels: Brian Delaney, College Basketball, Cornell, UAlbany