Syracuse men’s basketball opponent preview: What to know about Cornell

first_img Published on December 25, 2016 at 3:20 pm Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse enters its matchup against Cornell having lost five of its last eight games. The Orange (7-5) takes on the Big Red (3-8) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. The contest is SU’s final nonconference game before beginning Atlantic Coast Conference play on Jan. 1 at Boston College.Here’s everything you need to know about Cornell.All-time series: Syracuse leads, 90-31Last time they played: Last season, the Orange defeated Cornell, 67-46, on Dec. 19, 2015. SU only led by four at halftime, but pulled away by outscoring the Big Red by 17 after the break. Tyler Roberson and Malachi Richardson led SU with 15 points apiece while Roberson rounded out his performance with 12 boards. Syracuse outrebounded Cornell, 48-27, and finished with 17 second-chance points compared to the Big Red’s four. Michael Gbinije, while scoring 12 points, also pitched in as a distributor with eight assists.The Cornell report: The Big Red ranks 244th of 351 Division I teams, according to Kenpom.com. Cornell has struggled this season, allowing opponents to shoot 44.9 percent from the field and getting outscored 431-360 in the first half of games. Three Big Red players average more than 10 points: Sophomore guard Matt Morgan (19.3), sophomore forward Stone Gettings (14.2) and senior guard Robert Hatter (11.6). Against Syracuse last season, Hatter scored 14 and was the only Cornell player in double digits. The Big Red doesn’t have any dangerous rebounding threats as Gettings and Hatter are tied for the team lead with 5.3 boards per game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHow Cornell beats Syracuse: The Big Red would need big-time performances from its top three scorers to keep pace with the Orange, which only allows 64.9 points per game. SU has also faced issues when it’s been outrebounded and outscored in the paint. On paper, Cornell doesn’t pose much of a problem there, a big part of why Syracuse is favored in the game by 18, per Kenpom. While the Orange has had a rocky stretch recently, the Big Red would still need a near-perfect performance to upend SU.Stat to know: 75.2 inches — Cornell’s average height, per Kenpom, which ranks 340th in the country. Syracuse’s average height of 79 inches ranks sixth nationally. The Orange is 5-1 when it wins the rebounding battle.Player to watch: Robert Hatter, guard, No. 5While the Big Red hasn’t beaten SU since 1968, the senior has a solid history against Syracuse. As a freshman in 2013, Hatter scored nine points in 14 minutes. He scored just three points his sophomore year but backed that up by 14 points last season. Hatter has made just 10 3-pointers this year, but his 57.1 shooting percentage on 2-pointers ranks 353rd in the country, per Kenpom. If he can score effectively driving to the basket, that could open up opportunities for teammates on the perimeter once Syracuse’s 2-3 zone begins to collapse. Commentslast_img read more

Lakers’ rookie Jordan Clarkson finds inspiration from his father – coach, friend, cancer survivor

first_imgThe circumstances already put Jordan Clarkson in a bad mood, the best game of his college career at Missouri soured because of a loss to Kentucky.Defeats have always hit the current Lakers’ rookie guard hard. Clarkson often dissects his miscues before giving himself credit for successes. His 28 points against the Wildcats proved no exception. But he was going to receive worse news.Clarkson’s dad and stepmom left their San Antonio home on Feb. 1, 2014 to visit Clarkson at his apartment following his breakout game against Kentucky. They informed him that his father had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his lower back. “It was alarming to me, but I had a stoic look on my face and I stayed calm,” Clarkson’s dad, Mike, recalled. “I figured he would accept it easier and he wouldn’t be worried as much.” This all marked a turning point in Jordan Clarkson’s life, a journey that further affirmed his life-long affection for his dad and made him describe the road he traveled as “a blessing.” “There’s a plan for everything,” Clarkson said. “It’s crazy how things happen. It’ll continue to push me to get better.” Coping with adversityClarkson, 22, seemed at ease during a recent trip as he reflected on his past year that recently has sparked more smiles than anxiety. The Lakers are 20-53 entering Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans (39-34) at Staples Center, only nine games away from finishing a second consecutive season in which they will miss the playoffs. But Clarkson’s play has been one of the few clear bright spots for the Lakers.The Lakers consider him a steal after paying the Washington Wizards $1.8 million to secure his rights with the 46th pick in the draft. He has averaged 14.9 points on 45.2 percent shooting and 4.1 assists as a starter for the past 30 games. Two future Hall of Famers have mentored him, including Steve Nash in private workouts and Kobe Bryant on the bench at home games. Clarkson plans to play on the Lakers’ Summer League team in hopes of fine-tuning his scoring and accelerating his learning curve as a playmaker. The Lakers have a team option on Clarkson for the 2015-16 season, though it seems inevitable he will return because of his potential and relatively inexpensive $845,059 salary. That all prompted Lakers coach Byron Scott to predict Clarkson “has a chance” to become an NBA All-Star.“The more he gains experience, he will learn the pace of the game, how to slow it down and use his speed when he has to do so,” Scott said. “His ceiling is pretty high.”That all seemed like a fairy tale only a year ago. Back then, Jordan experienced his own version of March Madness while his father began treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Before learning about his father’s cancer, Jordan averaged 18.9 points on 48 percent shooting, 3.43 assists and 1.47 turnovers for Missouri. After the news, Jordan’s numbers dropped to 15.4 points on 39.2 percent shooting, 3.2 assists and 3.4 turnovers. “Sometimes I was pressing a lot and not even playing,” Jordan said. “I was thinking so much and the game wasn’t coming to me anymore around that time. I just tried to continue to fight through it.”But Clarkson’s fight did not just involve battling defenders. Jordan may have vowed to stay strong for his step-mother, Janie, and his brother, Bear. But Jordan felt anxiety as he tried to put together a season that would boost his NBA draft prospects. He felt pressure to support his family in case his father’s days were numbered. “I felt really bad for him,” Mike Clarkson said. “If it weren’t for what happened to me and my cancer, I know he would’ve finished out the season in an outstanding fashion.” “I can’t say I felt guilty. I didn’t do anything wrong. But I felt bad he couldn’t concentrate as much because of my situation.”But Jordon Clarkson shifted his mind-set. His stepmother Janie Clarkson recalled Jordan checked in repeatedly about his father’s well-being. But then Jordan stopped asking about Mike out of fear his father’s day-to-day recovery would exacerbate his stress.“There was all this stuff going through Jordan’s head where he wondered if he should just give up basketball and stop playing,” said Janie Clarkson. “But we told him he already worked so hard to get to this point and that everything will be fine. Jordan is always about family.” Jordan Clarkson also considered his teammates as family. But he says he shut himself off from teammates during the most difficult times. The lone exception was Jabari Brown, a Missouri teammate whom Jordan called “my brother” who is also now a Laker. Brown dealt with his own father’s current fight with cancer. “We spent a lot of time together,” Brown said. “It wasn’t something that was just going to go away.”A memorable debutClarkson’s anxiety vanished when his junior season with Missouri ended. He learned his father would fully recover, even if it took months of treatment and rest before he could return to work. Those developments provided Clarkson the proper perspective when his NBA future did not become clear until the Lakers selected him with the 46th pick. That marked a significant drop from where mock drafts projected him. Clarkson has since used that as motivation, but his father first articulated why he should embrace what happened. “God has a plan,” Mike Clarkson recalls telling his son. “He put you in the best position so that you’d get drafted by the Lakers. That might be the best place for you. Regardless of the circumstances, you have to make the best with what you’re dealt.”Brown immediately noticed Clarkson becoming “locked in” during training camp. Even when he spent 23 of the first 43 games sitting on the bench, all accounts raved about Clarkson’s attitude and work ethic that included frequent film study, prolonged shooting sessions and extended workout sessions. Once Bryant suffered a season-ending right shoulder injury on Jan. 21 in New Orleans, Scott shifted his focus toward developing Clarkson.Clarkson got his first NBA start on Jan. 23 in San Antonio, a fitting setting considering he starred at Wagner High School there. Mike and Janie Clarkson also lived nearby, though Clarkson chose not to tell his parents about his start beforehand so he could both focus and heighten the surprise.At that point, Mike Clarkson remained confined to his wheelchair and originally had second thoughts about attending the Lakers’ game just to see his son sit on the bench. He quickly changed his mind once he learned about Jordan’s start.“I nearly jumped out of my wheelchair,” Mike said, laughing. “I had to see him, even if he didn’t score any points. Just to see him and know all the sacrifices we made to help him reach his goal would make it all worth it.”Jordan Clarkson spent his time in the locker room blocking out all of his teammates’ chatter, reverting focus to his laptop computer that showed game film. In the game, Clarkson posted 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting, four assists and one turnover in a career-high 29 minutes. “It was great being able to do that,” Clarkson said. “Hopefully I can look back at it 10-15 years from now when I finish my career and know that I started at home.”A father’s bondClarkson likely would not have made that journey if not for his father’s influence.Mike may have named his son Jordan so that their first names together would spell out the former Chicago Bulls star. But Jordan did not play basketball until ninth grade after, starring in track and field in the 400-, 200- and 100-meter sprints. But once Jordan joined the AAU’s San Antonio Rohawks, Mike Clarkson coached Jordan, and he initially forbid his son from shooting — both so he would develop into a complete player and so he would fit in better with a more experienced roster.“I also didn’t want him to get discouraged and lose his confidence if he struggled shooting at the beginning,” Mike Clarkson said. “But he spent so much time away from practice proving he could.”Mike Clarkson also spent plenty of time in practice, in games and at home critiquing his son’s play. Mike Clarkson wanted other parents and children to see he would not play favorites with his son. He also wanted to send Jordan a message that he eventually understood all these years later. “It was tough at first,” Clarkson said. “But if I can get through to him yelling, I can handle it from anybody.” Jordan Clarkson tolerated it. He still remembers as a young child when his father declined a promotion in the Air Force that would have forced him to move away so he could stay near his son. Mike Clarkson also showed his support when the University of Tulsa initially opposed his son’s plans to transfer following the firing of coach Doug Wojcik. Though he deferred to his son on attending Missouri, Mike Clarkson sent a formal appeal to Tulsa administrators that helped soften the school’s restrictions. “I really appreciated him doing that. There’s some people who grow up without fathers,” Jordan Clarkson said. “There’s a reason why I’m here today. He shaped me into who I am.” Mike Clarkson no longer peppers his son with feedback, aware Jordan plays with a storied franchise filled with capable mentors.“He’s kind of a fan,” Jordan Clarkson said, laughing. “He’s just watching.”But that alone proves good enough for Jordan Clarkson after spending part of last year wondering how many more days his number one fan could watch from the sideline. Jordan Clarkson tried to show the same confidence he has displayed on the court.“I tried to stay strong at the time,” he said. “I told him he was going to be good and all right.”Mike Clarkson had two surgeries — on March 24 and 25 of 2014 — to remove a tumor wrapped around his spine that threatened to spread to his lungs. After spending most of last year rehabbing while confined to a wheelchair, Mike Clarkson recently returned to his job in San Antonio with the Air Force. Jordan Clarkson admitted his brave face camouflaged his understandable fear. He sat in his apartment two days later mulling over possibly losing his father, the man who both first coached Jordan on the hardwood and remained his best friend. “I don’t cry often, but that was one of the times I did,” Clarkson said. “I just broke down in my room a little bit to myself.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more