Dave Schlabaugh in 1st season leading Cornell: Small college men's basketball notebook

Dave Schlabaugh led Williamsburg to the state tournament in 2015 and is now the head coach at Cornell. (The Gazette)
Dave Schlabaugh led Williamsburg to the state tournament in 2015 and is now the head coach at Cornell. (The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — You figured you’d see Dave Schlabaugh as a head basketball coach again when he stepped down after leading Williamsburg to the state tournament a couple of years ago. He’s just too good.

That he has indeed come back but leading a college program is a little bit of a surprise.

Schlabaugh has the Cornell Rams off to a 4-2 start. He assumed the head coaching role after being lead assistant at the school in 2016-17.

“It has gone pretty easy,” Schlabaugh said of moving up a chair on the bench. “Having the chance to be around these guys for a year, I at least have a pretty good thought to how we need to do things. I understand the players fairly well, so I think that gave me an advantage. Just that I was able to see it, so I’m not coming in trying to figure out what everyone can do or can’t do.”

Schlabaugh isn’t a college coaching neophyte, considering he was an assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College and Morningside, his alma mater. He coached Williamsburg from 2008 to 2015, posting a 106-60 record.

After a year away from the game, he was hired by Chad Murray at Cornell. Murray left in April to take the head coaching job at Pacific Lutheran in Washington, and Schlabaugh got his promotion.

He has the Rams playing a little faster tempo offensively than last season. Senior guard Corey Davis has been Cornell’s leading scorer (15.8 points per game) and leader since day one.

“An unbelievable kid to have in your system,” Schlabaugh said of the former suburban Chicago prep. “I think he’s just gotten a little bit better every year. He’s had the opportunity to play all four years. He takes it very seriously, and wants to be good. He holds himself and the team to some pretty high standards.”

Cornell is off to a 2-1 start in the Midwest Conference going into its game Saturday afternoon at St. Norbert. Schlabaugh believe the Rams are a top-half-of-the-league club.

An interesting game later in the month comes at Division I Nebraska-Omaha. It’ll be one that counts record wise for Omaha but not for Cornell.

“I think we’re making a pretty good transition to a new style, being a little bit different system,” Schlabaugh said. “I think we’re growing into that a little bit. We’re actually pretty happy with where we’re at.”

HOW THEY'RE DOING

Kirkwood has rebounded from a one-point loss to Marshalltown in its first game after the Thanksgiving break to overwhelm Morton (Ill.), 85-48, and Black Hawk-Moline, 93-83. The Eagles are 7-3 overall and continue to be led in scoring by sophomore guard Chris King (18.0 per game).

Mount Mercy is 5-6 overall and 0-2 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. The Mustangs are coming off a 90-70 win over Saint Ambrose, a game in which senior guard Marquice Jones came off the bench to score 24 points in just 17 minutes.

Coe is 3-5 overall and 1-2 in the Iowa Conference. The Kohawks picked up their first IIAC win Wednesday night, beating Luther, 71-66. Spencer Williams came off the bench to put up 25 points (on 11-of-13 shooting) in just 14 minutes. He’s a senior forward from Monticello.

Luther is 0-3 in the Iowa Conference and 2-6 overall. The Norse are on a five-game losing streak. Junior guard Jared Nicolaisen (New Hampton) leads the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game.

Upper Iowa has lost its three Northern Sun Conference games and is 6-5 overall. Senior guard Carson Parker (Dike-New Hartford) is scoring at a team-best 17.7-point clip.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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