JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --Don't be afraid to fall in love with Cornell.
I know you've been hurt before. Hey, we all have. Some double-digit seed stole your heart on a Friday in March and then smashed it to pieces it two days later by playing valiantly -- but ultimately losing -- to a more athletic, better-funded program. But 12th-seeded Cornell is different. Just look at its
Look, I know this has all the earmarks of a torrid March weekend fling. A scrappy bunch of non-scholarship (the Ivy League doesn't allow athletic grants-in-aid) players at an elite school play together for four years and finally get their one shining moment. They're led by a deadeye shooter (forward
How could you not fall in love with them?
Trust me, these guys are man enough to stick around. Did you see how cool they were as they creamed a Temple team a lot of people thought deserved a three seed? Never once did they act like underdogs.
OK, so they're not made of stone. After the final buzzer, when they ambled over to salute the Cornell cheering section, Foote's upper lip curled and stuck for a second before a holy-cow-did-that-just-happen grin spread across his face. But these guys have eight seniors. They've been through it all. Forgive them a sentimental moment.
"Each year, we built," Jaques said. "Now we're winning a tournament game. That feeling on the court was incredible. It's indescribable."
When the Big Red returned to the locker room, coach
Donahue knows he doesn't have a typical mid-major one-hit-wonder roster. Foote (16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks on Friday) is as athletic as any 7-footer in the country, and he somehow finds a way to elongate himself on defense. When Cornell switched to a zone in the first half with Foote stationed at the free-throw line, Temple couldn't get the ball by him. His arms seemed to stretch from sideline to sideline. Wittman, the Big Red's leading scorer, isn't the traditional mid-major shot-chucker. He's also long (6-7) and athletic, and he found open shots Friday because he and his teammates didn't simply stand behind the three-point line and launch. Dale (21 points, 7 assists) sets everything in motion. He's 5-11, but he's fearless. On Friday, he never hesitated to charge into the paint, even when 6-11 Owl
Still don't trust that Cornell won't break your heart on Sunday? Consider this from
Shoot, the Big Red thought they should have beaten Kansas. "That game was 42 seconds too long," guard
Isn't that the kind of confidence you want from your March fling?
So go ahead. Fall in love. You and the Big Red could still be dancing next week.