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  • Zach Welch

2020 Cornell Basketball Midseason Review

In the hustle and bustle of the winter academic and athletic seasons, it can be hard to keep track of all our favorite teams, so let’s take this opportunity to check in on the men’s basketball team. While the team is still recovering from the loss of Matt Morgan with a 6-17 record, there have been plenty of bright spots. This may not be our most remarkable season, but there is hope for the future and potential to finish the season off strong. And so, without further adieu, here are the top 5 takeaways from the men’s basketball season so far:

1. Jimmy Boeheim is a star in the making.

The spotlight turned to Boeheim with last year’s leading scorer Matt Morgan graduating. Boeheim has passed with flying colors, showing significant improvements in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals, all while scoring at a similar efficiency to last year. With three double-doubles and seven games with 20+ points, it’s safe to say the Big Red have found themselves a bonafide star with another year of eligibility to grow into his potential.

2. Freshmen are ready for the future.

Our freshmen class has shown that they are the Big Red stars not only of tomorrow, but of today. Our new man on the wing, Jordan Jones, has proven to be an excellent floor spacer, posing as a three point threat as he averages 5 three point attempts per game. Having a floor spacer and legitimate three point threat on the wing opens up the rest of our offense to work both inside and out and stretches the opponents defense thin. Our other freshman sensation has been Greg Dolan, a scrappy guard who’s shown his hustle and heart by leading the team in steals and averaging 4.9 PPG and 1.4 RPG. These two have shown they are ready to continue taking on more responsibility as their careers progress, while their fellow freshmen, Marcus Filien and Chuks Uzoka, have been learning from their teammates and will be ready to contribute for years to come.

3. If we win, we win big. But we can’t quite close out the close games.

We’ve won by double digits in each of our six wins this season, with an average margin of victory of 21.7. Along with that, seven of our 17 losses were by six points or less. That is to say, while our record may not be sterling, almost half our losses were real toss-ups. The question now remains as to why we can’t close out and squeeze out close games. It seems that success lies in defense, as we render our opponent’s offense, as measured by EFG%, completely inefficient in wins and allow it to be higher than our own in losses. Regardless, however, we have shown we have what it takes to succeed and compete against our top competition- schools like Bryant, Penn, and Hartford- and are positioned to build on that success next year.

4. Terrance McBride has what it takes to run our offense.

Again, with Matt Morgan out of the picture, McBride has been thrown into the lead guard role and has thrived in it so far. Like Boeheim, he’s improved in several statistical categories, including points, rebounds, assists, and steals. Even more impressive is his increased efficiency. Generally speaking, when a player is given more minutes and attempting more shots per game, their efficiency numbers are expected to drop. McBride, however, is shooting twice as many shots as last year and yet has still improved both his FG% at 46.2% and his 3P% at 28.9%, reflecting his readiness to fill this new role. On top of his shooting efficiency, he’s become a more efficient playmaker with a career-high AST/TO ratio of 1.88, as compared to last year’s 1.3. Overall, McBride has shown us he was more than ready both to facilitate more and create for himself more, as mentioned in the Men’s Basketball 2019 Preview.

5. There are big things for the Big Red.

Cornell is poised to have a bounce back year next year. We have two returning senior starters who get better and better the bigger their roles are, our freshmen are set up to prove their worth as sophomores next year, and we have a projected total of about 12 returning players next year. The talent we already have is set to be bolstered by a class of three 2-star recruits next year: Cushing Academy’s Isaiah Gray, St. Thomas More School’s Chris Manon, and Ramsey High’s Sean Hansen. Considering the amount of talent we already have, the amount of losses that could have gone either way, and the young legs coming in, the future is bright as can be.

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