East Region Notebook: SEC-Ivy: No place for cliches

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A matchup like Kentucky-Cornell -- a Southeastern Conference school against an Ivy League school -- on a stage like the Sweet 16 always brings out the worst sports cliches:

Cornell (29-4) is "smart" and "skilled" and plays "team basketball"; Kentucky (34-2) is "athletic" and relies on talent but plays like a bunch of "individuals."

It became clear Wednesday at the Carrier Dome that both teams have had enough of the labels: Cornell's players are tired of being told they are inferior athletically; Kentucky's players are tired of being recognized only for their athleticism.

"I think when people watch my team play, they say they really are an intelligent team," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "I believe when people get around my players, I think they look at us and say, wow, they're a pretty good team, too."

Cornell coach Steve Donahue agreed with Calipari and said anybody who doesn't believe the Wildcats play smart and as a team hasn't been watching.

"They're obviously a very talented, solid basketball team," Donahue said.

"They can have all those athletes they want, but if they didn't play the game the right way, they wouldn't be where they are right now."

On the flip side, Cornell might not be as athletic as Kentucky, but it's not as if it plays the game at a snail's pace. The Big Red showcased some of their athleticism at practice for their game tonight against Kentucky, which will start about 30 minutes after the West Virginia-Washington game.

"There is a stereotype that because we are an Ivy League team, we fit a certain mold," Cornell forward Eitan Chemerinski said.

"We are an intelligent team but at the same time we also have a bunch of great athletes and great basketball players."

Quick hits

One of Calipari's assistants is former Pitt player and assistant coach Orlando Antigua. "He's got a great way about him," Calipari said of Antigua. "I really think he is going to be a terrific head coach, if not this year, within the next two years he is going to have his own program.". ...West Virginia is 6-0 in games played in the state of New York this season. "We have a lot of players from New York and New Jersey, they played high school ball here their whole lives so I guess they feel comfortable," guard Casey Mitchell said.


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