Monday, May 25, 2009

Cornell Falls in Title Game, Andy Bernard Weeps

After two blowouts in the Men’s Division 1 Lacrosse Semi-finals, Syracuse and Cornell put on a game for the ages today, as the Orangemen knocked off the Big Red in overtime, 10-9. For Cornell, this one definitely stings as the Big Red blew a 3 goal lead with under four minutes to play. I can’t confirm if Andy Bernard was in the audience, but I can say there won’t be a post game performance by “Here Comes Treble” for the Cornell faithful.

It must be disappointing for Cornell as they turned into Cor-NOT in the final five minutes, allowing a furious Syracuse comeback.

For non-lacrosse followers, I’ll break down the game using more mainstream analogies. In this contest, game-planning played a huge role as Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni turned into a combination of Dave Wannstedt and John Calipari (circa the 2008 NCAA Championship) in the 4th quarter. Cornell held a 1 to 2 goal lead much of the second half, but instead of going for the jugular, The Big Red took a page out of Dave Wannstedt’s book and played not to lose. (Surprisingly, Jay Fiedler was nowhere to be seen.) Cornell had opportunities to score, but instead of trying to add to the lead; they decided to hold the ball and try to run the clock down. It’s been proven in football and basketball that when you play not to lose…well, you often put yourself in a better position to lose.

As a result, Syracuse roared back and cut the deficit to 1 goal with under a minute to play. This brings us to our second point, as Tambroni decided to take another page out of the non-award winning book, “How to Lose a Game in 10 Minutes.” In this instance, he re-enacted a not-so-great moment in John Calipari’s career by not using timeouts. In the 2008 NCAA Championship, Memphis held a 3 point lead over Kansas near the end of the game. Calipari elected not to use a timeout before the Jayhawks final possession, and Mario Chalmers hit a three to send the game into OT. This backfired, as conventional wisdom shows when up by 3 late, you should foul the opposing team so they can’t attempt a three point bucket. By not re-iterating this to his team, he hurt their chances of winning.

Today, with Cornell holding the ball in their own end with twenty seconds to go, they were in immediate danger of turning the ball over. Instead of calling a timeout and instructing his team to throw the ball as high and deep in Syracuse territory, Tambroni did nothing. As a result, Cornell lost the ball and allowed the Orangemen to score with four seconds to go.

However, despite Cornell’s mistakes in the end, you’ve got to give a ton of credit to Syracuse for valiantly fighting back in this contest. In an ending that strongly resembled the 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, the Orangemen never gave up, and were able to capture another lacrosse title. For Cornell, this was a team that overachieved through the postseason and has nothing to hang their heads about. They played fantastic for 55 minutes, but fell apart in the final five. It’ll be tough to get the taste out of their mouths from this loss, but Cornell will still be there in the future if Tambroni decides to take a page out of Bill Belichick’s book, instead of Dave Wannstedt’s.

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