What to watch for: Syracuse v. Cornell

Nov 20, 2019; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Buddy Boeheim (35) drives to the basket as Cornell Big Red guard Terrance McBride (11) and forward Thurston McCarty (13) defend during the second half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse goes for its fourth straight win when it hosts Cornell on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the JMA Wireless Dome (TV: ACC Network). Ahead of the game, we caught up with our friends over at Ivy Hoops Online to get a scouting report on the Big Red. (Be sure to check out TJO’s Syracuse scouting report for this matchup at Ivy Hoops Online):

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Michael TonyIvy Hoops Online is a blog that has provided a colorful take on Ivy League basketball since 2011.

TJO: What are the major storylines with Cornell coming into this game?

MT: Cornell entered this season losing three of its top four scorers from 2021-22. No matter. The Big Red haven’t missed a beat in maintaining the uptempo attack they embraced last season, a significant shift under a coach who once dominated the Ivy League playing in the methodical Princeton offense for the Tigers.

Cornell again ranks in KenPom’s top five nationally in shortest average possession length. The Big Red’s offense makes analytically informed choices, eschewing the two-point jumper for higher-quality shots and shooting liberally from deep. Cornell ranks third in the country in two-point field-goal percentage and 17th in ratio of three-point attempts to overall field-goal attempts.

The result has been a 7-2 record, including a solid road win versus Delaware. The Big Red’s two losses were at ACC schools – Boston College and Miami – and both were just two-point defeats. The latter was a wild 107-105 shootout in which the Hurricanes were saved by Isaiah Wong’s 36 points powered by a 5-for-8 showing from beyond the arc.

Cornell was pegged in the Ivy preseason media poll to finish fifth in the conference, but it’s shown it’s capable of finishing at least a couple of slots higher. This is a young team that plays wise beyond its years, a credit to coach Brian Earl.

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TJO: Who are Cornell’s standout players?

MT: Cornell employs an ensemble scoring attack, with eight players averaging between seven and 14 points per game. The most prolific scorer has been senior guard Greg Dolan, a lethal three-point shooter and one of the team’s many adept passers. Junior guard Chris Manon is a punishing defender, pocketing at least three steals in four of Cornell’s seven games against Division I opponents. Other standouts are sophomore guard Nazir Williams, who has averaged 17.5 points in Cornell’s two games against ACC squads, and junior forward Sean Hansen, a strong offensive rebounder and at 6-foot-9, the team’s tallest major contributor.

TJO: Tell us your predictions for the game.

MT: Last year at the Dome, Cornell scored just five points through the first 10 minutes of an 80-68 loss during which it otherwise held its own. The Big Red are a more cohesive unit offensively this season and are well-equipped to avoid another dry spell against the Orange. I expect a good game in which Syracuse makes up for a deficit in three-pointers by making hay inside and at the foul line. Final score: Syracuse 84, Cornell 79.

Make sure to check out the Syracuse scouting report for this matchup at Ivy Hoops Online.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]sujuiceonline.com.