It seems that a Cornell team playing without its best player, Chris Wroblewski, was the perfect antidote to cure the Pirates' offensive woes from Friday night. Doing the game for WSOU, here are my Five Thoughts:
- Less = More for Hazell
Hazell had perhaps the best game of his career today, needing only 11 shots and 8 free throws to score a game-high 28 points. He was as efficient as he's ever been, and that translated well into a Pirates win. Not only did he remind fans why he's preseason first team all Big East and a candidate for the Wooden Award, he showed resolve on defense that he hasn't shown in his career.
- Robinson's bounce-back
Well, Jeff Robinson made us all forget about Friday night. Completely. Robinson was doing everything today- knocking down jump shots (including 2 threes), crashing the glass (10 rebounds), and getting to the foul line (4-4 on free throws). He was atrocious on Friday, but fantastic today. Coming into the Paradise Jam next weekend, it will be interesting to see how Robinson responds to better big men. Will he have confidence coming off a good game? Or will he fold when presented with a challenge on the block?
- Theodore's playmaking
Jordan Theodore finished with a pretty quiet 10PTS/7REB/7AST. He was alert and looked to make plays for his very capable teammates today. Watching the video during pregame, Theodore was shown saying that he is ready for the challenge of leading the team on the floor, and he looked the part today. He did commit a couple of offensive fouls, one on a push off and another on a charge, that led to two of his 5 turnovers (which is too high for a point guard), but he'll correct the mistakes just like he did in between games yesterday.
- Taking advantage
The Pirates and Big Red committed the same amount of turnovers (15), after the Red settled down after tallying nine in the first half. But the Pirates took full advantage of the Cornell turnovers, scoring 25 points off those 15 giveaways. It sort of took the sting off of the fact that the Pirates gave up 26 points in the paint NOT counting the 16 times that Cornell center Aaron Osgood went to the line. Osgood only made 8 of those 16, but it could have been worse.
- New student section
I give credit to the students for showing up, all wearing blue, and cheering loud even as the margin grew. It is something that I think will help the Pirates this season, as I heard through word of mouth that they were in the ears of the Cornell players all game long. I get the logic behind it, but as Big East play nears, I think that something will slip and some students are going to get thrown out for inappropriate comments.
Now the Pirates travel to the Paradise Jam to face Alabama, a great test of this team's fiber. The Pirates have traditionally struggled in tournaments like these, so if they come out of it 2-1 or 3-0, you have to feel good about it.