After a four-year stretch that ended in 2011, one that included three NCAA tournament berths and a Sweet Sixteen run, the Cornell Big Red’s status as Ivy League front-runner has faded.
The last five seasons have featured four bottom half finishes including this past season’s season’s last place finish. Cornell needs all the help they can get as new head coach Brian Earl looks to improve upon the team’s disappointing 10-18 record that ran former head coach Bill Courtney out of town.
The team returns a dynamic backcourt duo that features Ivy League leading scorer, sophomore Matt Morgan. Other high profile players include Robert Hatter, and the Ivy League’s leader in Field Goal Percentage last season, senior guard Darryl Smith.
Sharp shooter JoJo Fallas and an assembly of viable options off the bench look to take the next step this season.
Brain Earl and company will travel to Spain next week, following a five-day boot camp in Ithaca. They join 59 other men’s Division 1 basketball teams taking trips overseas this summer.
“We are just trying to go over there and build some team chemistry,” said Matt Morgan.
“Get used to the new system that the coaches want us to run so that come season time we are already familiar with it and can move on.”
Heading to Spain will serve two purposes for the Big Red. It will act as a bonding experience for the players to get acquainted with one another, while providing them with the opportunity to improve as a team on the court.
“Ultimately it’s a trip for us to hang out and get to know each other as a team better and enjoy Spain as a whole. Hopefully we can win some games too while we are there,” Morgan said.
Amidst frontcourt concerns, Cornell returns its valued big from a season ago, David Onuorah, and added 6’9” freshman forward Josh Warren. In Spain, Earl will use valuable play time to figure out his front court gameplan before the season begins.
Last time Cornell took a foreign trip was back in 2007. That team went on to finish the season with a perfect 14-0 Ivy League record, and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
If history is any indication, Cornell could be in for a season to remember in 2016-17.
– M. Roitman