2018-2019 Men’s Basketball Preview
Despite returning four of five starters and qualifying for the Ivy League Tournament for the first time last year, Cornell Men’s Basketball was picked 6th in the 2018-2019 Ivy League Preseason Poll. Cornell finished last season 12-16 (6-8 Ivy League) after an Ivy League Semifinals loss to Harvard. The team finished with a No. 265 KenPom ranking and only two wins against teams higher than KenPom No. 200.
This year the, Big Red, led by third-year head coach Brian Earl, will have to overcome the departure of All-Ivy second team forward Stone Gettings, as he opted to forego his senior season and use his final year of eligibility in 2019-2020 as a graduate transfer at Arizona. Gettings averaged 16.7 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds last year. Other departures from last year’s team include graduated seniors Wil Bathurst, Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof and Troy Brown. Bathurst only played in the team’s first seven games last year before a torn labrum sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Brown and Abdur-Ra’oof combined for only 9.1 minutes and 3.1 points per game.
The 2018-2019 Cornell Men’s Basketball team will rely heavily on senior guard and captain Matt Morgan, who elected to return to Cornell for his senior season after entering and withdrawing from the NBA Draft. Morgan dominated last year, earning first team All-Ivy after putting up a conference-high 22.5 points per game. The next highest scorer, Columbia’s Mike Smith, averaged nearly 5 points per game less than Morgan. Matt Morgan also added a strong 3.2 assists per game and 4.6 rebounds per game last year. This year, the Cornell offense will likely be run through the NBA prospect guard, for he will be forced to carry a large share of the scoring after the loss of Stone Gettings.
Cornell also returns key seniors and captains Jack Gordon and Steven Julian. Gordon, a 6’5’’ guard, will look to build on a strong junior season where he averaged 7.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. Julian, who was a junior college transfer a year ago, started every game for the Big Red last year, averaging 6.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. He was a top ten rebounder and the second-best shot blocker in the Ivy League. Troy Whiteside returns to action for Cornell this year after missing the entire 2017-2018 season due to injury. Whiteside should get a chance to start immediately, and he will hope to improve upon the solid 6.6 points and 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game he produced as a sophomore in 2016-2017. Senior guard Joel Davis will also contribute off the bench for Cornell.
Josh Warren, the only returning junior, should play an increased role as a forward this year after the departure of Gettings. The group of five returning sophomores, which includes Jake Kuhn, Bryan Knapp, and Riley Voss, should all also see increased minutes this year. Terrance McBride started 17 games as a freshman last year averaging 4.9 points and 2.6 assists per game. Jimmy Boeheim, a 6’8’’ forward, has the potential to have a breakout sophomore season for the Big Red. He put up big numbers in Cornell’s exhibition game against Ithaca College, scoring 19 points on 7-8 shooting and 2-3 from behind the three-point line. Boeheim also added five rebounds. Boeheim will need to improve upon his 13.5 percent three-point shooting from last year but should get the opportunity to make a name for himself following the departure of Stone Gettings.
Perhaps the biggest question mark for the 2018-2019 Cornell Men’s Basketball team is how big of an impact junior college transfers and forwards Chaz Mack and Thurston McCarty will make. Mack was a second-team NJCAA All-American last year at Cochise College in Arizona where he put up excellent numbers, averaging 19.9 points and 10.1 rebounds. Thurston McCarty, who is from East Central Community College in Mississippi, looked solid in both the Red-White scrimmage and exhibition game. Despite playing a little under nine minutes against Ithaca, he was +17. Both junior college transfers should get an immediate opportunity to contribute this year.
Freshmen Dean Noll, Max Samberg, Matt Harshany, and Kobe Dickson round out the team for Cornell. Kobe Dickson has the potential to make the largest impact of the freshmen, as he is Cornell’s tallest player at 6’9’’.
Cornell faces a tough non-conference schedule this year that includes games on the road at UConn (Nov 20), Syracuse (Dec 1), Toledo (Dec 19), SMU (Dec 22), and Wake Forest (Jan 2). Cornell tips-off Ivy League play January 19th at Newman Arena when they face Columbia. Big Ivy League home games include games against Penn (Feb 1), Yale on (Feb 16), and Harvard (Mar 8). Harvard is the preseason favorite in the league, but Yale, Penn, and Princeton should also contend for the regular-season title. Brown, Columbia, and Dartmouth will all have strong teams this year as well.
With Matt Morgan, Cornell has a chance in every game this year, but the loss of Stone Gettings will be hard for the Big Red to overcome. The team should have excellent depth this year off the bench though, and Brian Earl should have the Cornell men’s basketball team in contention for another Ivy League tournament bid.
Cornell enters the season ranked No. 253 in KenPom, and they open the regular season against Binghamton on Tuesday night. Cornell returns home Thursday for their regular season home opener against SUNY-Canton.