Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Owens Giving Cornell Big Playoff Push

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Owens Giving Cornell Big Playoff Push

Article excerpt

From the moment Bill Sacco first saw Matt Owens play nearly three years ago, the Cornell boys' basketball coach knew this 6-foot-5 forward had a chance to be something special.

"As soon as you walk on the floor, I think you can tell when you see a player who has plenty of ability," Sacco said. "He was one of those guys you could see had that right away."

Owens started some games as a freshman and has been entrenched in the Raiders' lineup since Sacco took over as coach at the beginning of Owens' sophomore season. He averaged more than 10 points per game that year, 13.5 in 2003-04 and is up to 17.1 this season.

"He is very athletic, has great athleticism," Sacco said. "And he's gotten the school two section championships the past two years, so he must be doing something right."

The Raiders (12-10, 10-2 Section 1-A) lost only two games during the regular season last year with Owens, currently a co-captain, at the forefront.

Owens leads Cornell in points, rebounds (10 per game), blocks (three per game) and field-goal percentage and is second on the team in assists (six).

Sacco said that although Owens, the team's tallest player, operates primarily on the low post, he "does it all," letting his range reach the 3-point line and possessing good ballhandling skills.

"He understands the ball doesn't always have to be in his hands," Sacco said. "He's willing to sacrifice points so that the team does well. I think that takes a lot to be able to do that."

Part of being able to do that is an understanding of the game. Sacco said that as much as he could recognize the talent in Owens early in his high school career, his court smarts have dramatically increased the past two years.

"I think he understands the game more than he did before," Sacco said. "I think he's taking care of the ball and handling the ball under pressure better. …

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