Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Recruiting News

The 9th Annual Fall Showcase was held this past weekend on the campus of Grand Canyon University. Cornell basketball recruiting prospect, Mitchell Watt (#12 pictured above, click on the image for full size) attended the event and was invited to the Top 25 Juniors/Seniors All-Star game after impressing scouts with his three-point shooting from the perimeter and tough rebounding inside the lane. Watt is a 6’9” 200 lb. combination power forward/center from Goodyear, Arizona, Desert Edge High School (AAU Team: Arizona Premier)

The Cornell Basketball Blog recently had an opportunity to discuss Watt’s college recruitment status with a source close to the situation. Our source, who attended the Showcase, confirmed what we previously reported, Watt already has visited the Cornell campus. He also confirmed that Cornell was Watt's "first choice" and clarified that Watt has an "offer" to join the Cornell basketball program contingent upon acceptance by admissions to the University. At this time, Watt is waiting for his Cornell admissions application to arrive in the mail. The 3.8 GPA student has over 1400 on his SAT and took the test again last weekend to improve his admissions profile.

Watt certainly has other Division I options besides Cornell. Our source informs us that Watt has actual scholarship offers from Wichita State, Cal St. Fullerton, Northern Colorado, Northern Arizona, American University, Texas-San Antonio, and Samford, while fellow Ivy League schools Columbia and Princeton also offered places in their basketball programs. Meanwhile, high major schools such as Stanford, Oregon State, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Texas Tech, and UCLA have also been in contact with him. Nevertheless, our source tells us that if Watt gets past Cornell's admissions "then that is where he is going." Watt only visited Cornell and does not plan on taking additional visits to other campuses.

As a junior at Desert Edge, Watt stuffed the stat sheets. He averaged 11.6 points on 74% (117/158) shooting from the floor. He also hit 23 of 41 for 56% of his three point attempts, while grabbing 6.9 rebounds and blocking 4.1 shots per game. (of the network) ranks him the #9 prospect in the state for all position areas. In addition, ranks Watt among the top centers in the Western United States.

Our source further commented that "Watt will be going down some levels [in basketball] to go there [Cornell and the Ivy League]...If he played with the top AAU program out here called the Arizona Magic instead of the Arizona Premier, he would have been [at a higher level]. Cornell should feel very fortunate." In explaining Watt's college intentions, our source noted that Watt highly values the quality of the Cornell/Ivy League education and the opportunities it creates after college basketball.

Below, some photos from Watt's campus visit to Cornell.

Reasons Why Cornell Could Struggle Early in the Season

Here are several reasons why Cornell Basketball could fail to live up to the 2007-2008 preseason hype:

7. The jinx of the “sophomore slump” hits Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale and Geoff Reeves.

6. Back-up center Jeff Foote is unavailable to play until December 19, 2007 per NCAA transfer restrictions.

5. Alex Tyler’s knee injury continues to nag him.

Transfers Collin Robinson and Andre Wilkins struggle meshing with the returning veterans.

3. Adam Gore and Jason Hartford are still rusty from sitting out 2006-2007 as medical red-shirts.

Cornell fails to find sufficient defense and rebounding inside the paint to replace the graduated, Andrew Naeve.

Too much psychological pressure from all of the preseason expectations!

Cornell Press Release: Big Red Picked First in Ivy League Basketball Media Poll

Below is an official press release from Cornell Athletics concerning Cornell's selection as the favorite in the Preseason Ivy League Basketball Media Poll.

(from ITHACA, N.Y. -- If the Ivy League media are right, the Cornell men's basketball team will be the conference's representative when the 2007-08 NCAA basketball tournament comes around, as head coach Steve Donahue's team opens the season sitting atop the Ivy League media preseason poll which was released today by the league office. The Big Red is the first team other than Penn or Princeton to sit atop the preseason poll since Dartmouth was predicted to win the 1988-89 campaign 19 years ago.

Donahue's teams have exceeded expectations many times during its current run, including placing second, third and third in the Ivy League, respectively, the last three years. Last season the Big Red was picked third in the preseason poll and finished the year in that very spot with a 9-5 record.

Featuring veteran leadership in senior Jason Hartford and juniors Jason Battle, Adam Gore, Brian Kreefer and Conor Mullen, as well as a talented nucleus of underclassmen, highlighted by 2006-07 Rookie of the Year pick Ryan Wittman and honorable mention All-Ivy pick Louis Dale, Cornell opens the season in search of its first Ancient Eight crown since claiming the 1987-88 crown. The Big Red finished returns three starters and 11 letter winners from last year's 16-12 squad that posted the most regular season wins since the 1992-93 season.

The Big Red received 10 of 16 first-place votes and outdistanced projected runner-up Yale, 119-104. Three-time defending league champion Penn, with 97 points, finished third, while Columbia (80), Brown (70), Harvard (43), Princeton (40) and Dartmouth (23) rounded out the eight-team field. Yale was the top team on three ballots, while Penn, Columbia and Brown each received one first-place vote.

The Ivy League media are not the only people that like the Big Red entering the season. Three preseason college basketball publications have selected Cornell as their eventual Ivy League champion. Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview, the Lindy's College Basketball Annual and the Street & Smith's/Sporting News College Basketball Yearbook all chose the Big Red to claim its first league crown since the 1987-88 season.

Head coach Steve Donahue, chosen by Street & Smith's as the preseason Ivy League Coach of the Year, returns three All-Ivy players, all of whom were singled out by the publications. Wittman was a unanimous first-team all-league selection by the three magazines, as well as by CBS Sportsline's 2007-08 College Basketball Preview. He was also named the league's best shooter and NBA prospect by Lindy's. Gore and Dale were the second-team All-Ivy backcourt by Lindy's, with Dale also earning the status of the conference's best playmaker by the publication. Additionally, junior Collin Robinson was named the Ivy League's Newcomer of the Year by Street & Smith's.

Two media members from each of the Ivy League schools voted in the poll. Each first-place vote was worth eight points, a second place vote worth seventh down to one point for an eighth place vote.

The Big Red opens the season on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. when it faces Lehigh at Newman Arena in Bartels Hall.

2007-08 Preseason Poll Results
1. Cornell -- 119 (10 first-place votes)
2. Yale -- 104 (3)
3. Penn -- 97 (1)
4. Columbia -- 80 (1)
5. Brown -- 70 (1)
6. Harvard -- 43
7. Princeton -- 40
8. Dartmouth -- 23

Cornell Picked First in Ivy League Media Poll

From, the official website of the Ivy League:
For the first time since the Reagan administration, the Ivy media has picked neither Penn nor Princeton to finish first in the League. Cornell is this season's pick and it's the first time it hasn't been one of the "Killer P's" since Dartmouth was picked by the media in 1988-89.

The Big Red garnered 119 poll points and 10 first-place votes. They are followed by Yale (104) and three-time defending champs Penn (97). Columbia (80), Brown (70), Harvard (43), Princeton (40) and Dartmouth (23) round out the predictions. Each of the top five teams received first-place votes.

The Big Red (16-12, 9-5 Ivy), third-place finishers a year ago, are loaded with young talent as they return eight of their top 10 scorers — including the third-highest freshman scoring duo in the nation last year in second team All-Ivy point guard Louis Dale and 2007 Rookie of the Year Ryan Wittman. They also get back 2006 Ivy Rookie of the Year Adam Gore, who sat out all but one game last season with a knee injury, along with USC transfer Colin Robinson and seven-foot St. Bonaventure transfer Jeff Foote. Interestingly enough, Cornell was the last non-Penn/Princeton team to win an outright League title in 1987-88...

2007-08 Preseason Poll Results
1. Cornell -- 119 (10 first-place votes)
2. Yale -- 104 (3)
3. Penn -- 97 (1)
4. Columbia -- 80 (1)
5. Brown -- 70 (1)
6. Harvard -- 43
7. Princeton -- 40
8. Dartmouth -- 23

They Said It! Quote to Remember.

Mike Howlett, a 6'9" post player from the New Hampton School in New Hampton, New Hampshire and a recent recruiting commitment to Penn shared the following thought
in an inteview with The New England Recruiting Report.
The Ivy League is definitely getting better. I think with [Head Coach] Tommy Amaker going to Harvard this year it has helped the whole league to attract bigger recruits.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ivy League Primer on

"A team-by-team glance at the Ivy League heading into the 2007-08 season" is provided at Here is what Sportsline had to say about the Big Red:


Strengths: Cornell not only returns three starters and capable bench contributors, but the Big Red also has Adam Gore, who led the team in scoring in 2005-06 but missed last season with a knee injury. With Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale and Gore, Cornell might have the best trio of offensive playmakers in the conference. Add USC transfer Collin Robinson off the bench and Cornell's offensive firepower runs deep.

Weaknesses: The Big Red needs some unproven players to come through in the frontcourt, especially Jason Hartford, who missed last season with a foot injury, and Jeff Foote, who won't be eligible until the end of the first semester after transferring from St. Bonaventure.

Newcomers: Transfers are relatively rare in the Ivy League, especially mid-year and junior college transfers, but Cornell has one of each. Jeff Foote, a 7-foot, 210-pound center, is a mid-year transfer from St. Bonaventure who will be eligible after the first semester. Andre Wilkins, a 6-5, 210-pound forward, comes to Cornell from Blinn College in Texas, where he averaged 10.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in his only season. Both are expected to provide immediate help, Foote in the post and Wilkins out on the wing. Cornell coach Steve Donahue also brought in Aaron Richardson-Osgood, a 6-9, 220-pound forward/center who also has a chance to play right away, and Adam Wire, another 6-5, 210-pound wing who might need more time before he's ready to make an impact on a deep team.


For more previews, see The Cornell Basketball 2007-2008 Season Preview Index.

Just Call Me "Osgood"

The official Cornell Big Red roster now lists Aaron Richardson-Osgood as just Aaron Osgood. I guess we will not refer to him as "ARO" in future blog posts. But it is all good with just Osgood.

Cornell-Marist Scrimmage Report

The Cornell Basketball Blog received news that the Big Red scrimmaged Marist last Sunday behind closed doors. While this is a subjective report, we are told that the result of the scrimmage was an even draw with Cornell winning a close first and third periods but was blown out by the Red Foxes in the second period.

Cornell was without two key frontcourt players during the scrimmages. Alex Tyler sat out due to injury while Jeff Foote was required to sit per NCAA transfer rules.

Tyler and Foote are expected to team with Jason Hartford as Cornell's three primary low post players at power forward and center. In their place, Cornell went deeper into the bench utilizing Brian Kreefer and Pete Reynolds.

Cornell scrimmages the University of Hartford this weekend.

Cornell to Scrimmage the University of Hartford

A source close to the Cornell basketball program informed The Cornell Basketball Blog that the Big Red will face the Hartford Hawks this weekend in a closed-to-the-public scrimmage.

Cornell and Hartford last met in a regular season game on November 28, 2006 with the Hawks prevailing in Newman Arena, 63-61. The visitors held Cornell without a field goal in the final 5:20 of the game as the Hawks rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final four and a half minutes to steal a win from the Big Red.

Injury Report: Tyler's Rehab Proceeding On Schedule

Virtually none of the preseason magazines or previews even bothered to mention his name when discussing Cornell's upcoming season outlook. Nevertheless, Alex Tyler figures to play a huge role for the Big Red during 2007-2008.

As The Cornell Basketball Blog previously reported, the 6'7" 240 lb. sophomore recently completed local in-patient surgery on his right knee. We have received a very recent update from a confidential source that Alex's rehabilitation is proceeding right on schedule and he is already running and training each day with his Cornell teammates. The outlook is positive that Tyler should be ready for game action in the season opener against Lehigh, or at least the following week in the second game of the season against Ohio University.

Tyler projects as a starter for the Big Red and provides bulk and aggressiveness at power forward. He gives Cornell a big edge on the defensive end with his strength in rebounding, wingspan and skill at boxing out the lane. On the offensive end, Tyler is an extremely efficient scorer. In 14 Ivy League games for the Big Red as a freshman during 2006-2007, Tyler played just under a half at 17.2 minutes of action per game, but scored 6.6 points, grabbed 3.3 rebounds, while shooting an impressive 61% from the floor. Tyler was also competent from the foul line, knocking down 74% of his foul shots.

Recruiting News: Howlett to Penn
 reports that Penn landed a verbal commitment from Mike Howlett (pictured above), a 6'9" post player from the New Hampton School in New Hampton, New Hampshire. Howlett was originally committed to Lehigh University, but backed out of his commitment during August 2007 following a coaching change in Bethlehem when Billy Taylor suddenly left the Patriot League school to become head coach at Ball State. Although Taylor offered Howlett an opportunity to follow him to Ball State, Howlett declined and has since returned to New Hampton Prep for a postgraduate year. Howlett selected Penn over several Patriot League options including Bucknell and Holy Cross.

In other news around the Ivy, Ryan Howley, a 6’5” wing from Flagstaff, Arizona’s Sinagua H.S. recently told that "UC Davis, Lehigh, Cal State Northridge and Princeton have offered.” Howley added, "I took a visit to Davis a couple weeks ago and I'll probably visit Northridge.” When asked if he has a leader at this time, Howley responded, "Probably Davis if I had to decide today.”

Monday, October 29, 2007

Shawn Oliverson Returns Home from LDS Mission

An article in The Herald Journal (serving the Cache Valley of Utah and Idaho) notes that Shawn Oliverson has returned home to Preston, Idaho after completing his Latter Day Saints (Mormon) missionary work in West Virginia.

Oliverson, a big 6'11" 245 lb. center played as a freshman for the Big Red during the 2004-2005 season. Although he made appearances in only 11 games, averaging just 2.1 minutes per game, seven of those contests were Ivy League games, thereby suggesting Coach Donahue believed Oliverson was improving as the season wore on.

The Cornell Basketball Blog received reports that the Oliverson family remained in contact with the Cornell basketball program while Shawn served his missionary work. We do not, however, have any information whether Shawn plans to return to the basketball program or to Cornell. If he does choose to return, he brings tremendous size to the floor and fills up space in the lane. He will, however, need to improve his stamina and foot-speed if he is going to make a bigger impact for the Big Red.

Oliverson was a highly touted recruit coming out of Preston, H.S. in Preston, Idaho. ranked him as one of the top 10 centers in the Western United States (a region made up of ten states). He was also ranked among the top 250 recruits nationally by Galaxy of Stars and as the #351 recruit overall nationally by As a high school senior, Oliverson averaged 11.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in earning all-state honors and leading his team to an undefeated state championship (24-0). Oliverson also appeared in the hit MTV movie, Napoleon Dynamite, which was filmed in his high school.

Alumni News: Will Scott in Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook

Below is the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook profile of Will Scott, a former Cornell basketball player and current Louisville Cardinal player. Scott transferred to Louisville following his freshman season with the Big Red.

G-WILL SCOTT (6-3, 185 lbs., JR, #20, 3.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 8.2 mpg, .377 FG, .397 3PT, .867 FT, Cornell University/New York). When Will Scott expressed an interest in transferring to Louisville after his freshman year at Cornell in 2004-05, Pitino was fine with the idea. After all, Pitino knew Scott's parents, Norman and Susan, extremely well. Norman Scott had been the New York Knicks team physician when Pitino was the Knicks' coach. Susan had been the team physician for the WNBA's New York Liberty. Scott's brother, Eric, had been a program assistant at Louisville. (After two years as an assistant at Bellarmine University in Louisville, he's back on Pitino's staff as the director of basketball operations.)

Will was a great student, too. So Pitino knew he would be getting someone with solid character, good grades and the makings of a great teammate. What Pitino didn't know was if he was getting a player who could actually compete at the Big East level.

''I'd known Will since he was in his mother's womb,'' Pitino said. ''But I had doubts as to how much he'd ever play here. It was more to enjoy being part of the team and enjoy the Big East experience. He'll probably become the first Rhodes Scholar candidate in Louisville history, but he's become more of a player than I ever thought he'd be.''

Scott sat out the 2005-06 season as per NCAA transfer rules. He spent last season as a non-scholarship walk-on. But he appeared in 34 games, averaging 8.2 minutes per game. And every minute of time that Scott saw was because of one thing.

''There's one reason why you put Will Scott in the game,'' said Pitino. ''And that's because you're struggling from the perimeter. The one thing he can do at this level is shoot the basketball.''

Scott made 25 out of 63 attempts (.397) from three-point range last season. He only took 14 shots inside the three-point line. He made four. His shooting touch extended to the free-throw line, too, where he went 26-of-30. Scott will return to the same role of the three-point marksman off the bench again this season.

Recruiting News: Ivy Recruit Rankings As of 10.29.07

On October 17, 2007, The Cornell Basketball Blog last released our selections for the top incoming Ivy League recruits for the 2008-2009 season. Here is an updated ranking following some recent commitments. Harvard and Penn continue to dominate the recruiting landscape. Cornell is still waiting for its impact commitment.

THE TOP 15 IVY LEAGUE RECRUITS (as of 10.29.07)
1. Frank Ben-Eze-HARVARD-C 6-10 235 Arlington VA Bishop O'Connell HS
2. Garvin Hunt-PENN-C 6-9 225 Nassau Bahamas Weston FL Sagemont Upper School
3. Max Kenyi-HARVARD-F 6-5 180 Washington DC Gonzaga HS
4. Zach Rosen-PENN-G 6-0 170 Newark NJ St. Benedict's Prep HS
5. Andrew Van Nest-HARVARD-F/C 6-10 230 Northfield NH Northfield Mount Hermon School
6. Brian Grimes-COLUMBIA-F 6-7 220 Fort Washington PA Germantown Academy/Brewster Academy/ La Salle University (sophomore)
7. Greg Mangano-YALE-C 6-10 West Haven CT Notre Dame HS
8. Oliver McNally-HARVARD-G 6-3 180 Ross CA Branson HS
T9. Noel Hollingsworth-BROWN-F/C 6-9 215 Salt Lake City UT Judge Memorial HS
T9. Stefan Kaluz-BROWN-F/C 6-9 220 Newport CA Corona Del Mar HS
T11. Rob Belcore-PENN-G/F 6-5 190 Wilmette IL Loyola Academy
T11. Matt Johnson-COLUMBIA-F 6-6 190 Westlake Village CA Oaks Christian HS
13. Chris Wroblewski-CORNELL-G 6-1 Highland Park IL HS
14. Patrick Saunders-PRINCETON-F 6-7 New Hampton NH Prep School
T15. Max Huc-PRINCETON-G 6-2 Rosemont PA The Hill School/Brewster Academy NH
T15. Zane Ma-PRINCETON-F 6-7 Hollywood CA Harvard-Westlake School
T15. Peter Boehm-HARVARD-F 6-7 Winnetka IL New Trier HS
T15. Rhett Anderson-YALE-F 6-8 215 La Canada CA HS
T15. Marques Coleman-BROWN-G 6-3 185 Glendale AZ HS


1. Harvard
2. Penn
T3. Brown
T3. Columbia
5. Yale
6. Princeton
7. Cornell
8. Dartmouth (no reported recruits)

For a list of Cornell and Ivy League Recruiting Targets and Commitments click here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Alumni News

According to an article in the Branson Daily News, a Missouri-based newspaper, the Livin' the Dream basketball club, a touring all-star team made up of recent college basketball graduates, features a former Cornell player. Livin' the Dream was scheduled to play the College of the Ozarks in an exhibition yesterday. However, The Cornell Basketball Blog has been unable to identify the former Big Red player.

For more Cornell Alumni News stories, click here.

Recruiting News: Color Van Nest Crimson

According to the New England Recruiting Report, Harvard University received a verbal recruiting commitment from Andrew Van Nest, a 6'10" high post player from the Northfield Mount Hermon School in New Hampshire. and are reporting that Van Nest held offers from Penn, Northwestern and Davidson.

For our archived stories on Cornell and Ivy League Recruiting News just click here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Alumni News: Lenny Collins '06

A reference is made in Friday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer to Lenny Collins (Cornell '06). Lenny is currently attending Harvard Law School. His younger brother Jed is a football player at Washington State.

For more Cornell Alumni News stories, click here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cornell Receives Votes in's Mid Major Top 25 Poll

In the annual Mid Major Preseason Top 25 Poll, the Cornell Big Red received 25 votes, while Ivy League rivals-- Penn receieved 33 votes and Yale checked in with 5 votes. Cornell opponent, Siena was ranked #22 in the poll, while Bucknell received 61 votes and Ohio University received 27 votes.

The Mid-Major Poll is made up of teams from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Continent, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Sun Belt, West Coast.

An All-Star Feel to the Roster

The 2007-2008 season marks the first time in the seven-year "Steve Donahue era" where the Big Red return more than one All-Ivy League selection from the prior season. This year, the Cornell roster has an "all-star feel" as the Big Red returns three players who received All-Ivy League honors in prior years. Below is a list of Cornell's All-Ivy League recipients under Cornell Head Coach Steve Donahue. Active players are in italics.

Ray Mercedes (Senior) (Honorable Mention All-Ivy League)

Ka'Ron Barnes (Junior) (2nd Team All-Ivy League)

Ka'Ron Barnes (Junior) (1st Team All-Ivy League)

Lenny Collins (Junior) (1st Team All-Ivy League), Eric Taylor (Senior) (Honorable Mention All-Ivy League)

Lenny Collins (Senior) (2nd Team All-Ivy League), Adam Gore (Freshman) (2nd Team All-Ivy League)

Andrew Naeve (Senior) (2nd Team All-Ivy League), Ryan Wittman (Freshman) (2nd Team All-Ivy League), Louis Dale (Freshman) (Honorable Mention All-Ivy League)

Cornell Basketball Game vs Quinnipiac Televised on MSG

Quinnipiac announced that the December 31, 2007 game in Hamden, Connecticut between the Bobcats and the Cornell Big Red will be televised by the Madison Square Garden Network (MSG).

Cornell will have at least one other televised game. Cornell's January 6, 2008 game against Duke will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net.
The Big Red may also have other games televised on either College Sports Television Network (CSTV), the YES Channel, and/or ESPNU.

Finally, Cornell Athletics has announced that all of Cornell's home games will be available to view online via Cornell Red Cast.

Big Gyms, Big Crowds Await Cornell on the Road During 2007-2008

During Cornell's 2007-2008 nonconference games, the Big Red will have the opportunity to play in some rather large and hostile gyms in preparation for the brutal Ivy League road schedule. For example, on November 17, 2007, the Big Red face the MAC's Ohio Bobcats in Athens, Ohio at the Convocation Center with a seating capacity of over 13,000. Last season, the Bobcats averaged 4,500 fans per game. On December 19, Cornell travels to Bucknell and the often packed Sojka Pavilion (capacity 4,000). One of the highlights of the Cornell schedule is a December 22 road game at Syracuse's Carrier Dome. The Orange averaged over 21,500 fans per game last season. When Cornell fell 67-62 to Syracuse on November 9, 2005, the Big Red played in front of more than 17,000.

On January 6, 2008, Cornell has a date with Duke in famed Cameron Indoor Stadium, arguably the toughest road game for any team in America. Duke's games are always sell outs, averaging more than 9,300 per game. Finally, on January 15, Cornell will play in another large venue, albeit probably in front of a smallish crowd, when the Big Red face NJIT in Newark's brand new Prudential Center (aka "The Rock"). The Prudential Center seats 18,500 people for basketball games.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Alumni News: Catching Up With Wallace Prather III ('02)

Ever wonder what happended to Wallace Prather III (Cornell, class of 2002)? Cornell fans may recall that Prather earned Cornell's Most Valuable Player honors his senior year (2001-2002) after leading the team in scoring (11.4 ppg), assists (2.0 apg.) and steals (2.0 spg.). The former team captain currently holds the school's record in career steals (197) and currently sits eleventh (11th) on Cornell's career scoring list (1,171 points).

Today, Prather is CEO and President of WP Sports Management. His clients include NBA players Javaris Crittenton and Josh Smith.

For other stories related to Cornell Basketball Alumni, click here.

College Hoops Net Picks Syracuse #21

Well, another preseason Top 25 ranking for Syracuse, Cornell's December 22, 2007 opponent. Today picked the Orange at #21. Previously, Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports, ranked Syracuse the #24 team in the nation in his preseason poll. Syracuse was also tabbed #19 in the preseason poll and #23 in the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.

The Cornell-SU series is becoming a bit of a heated rivalry. The last time Cornell played Syracuse, on November 9, 2005, the Big Red fell in a close contest 67-62 in the Carrier Dome to then then #16 ranked Orange. While nobody is expecting a bench clearing fight, this game could be another battle decided in the closing minutes or seconds.

At least one website, The Card Chronicle has selected the Cornell vs. Syracuse game as the 42nd best Big East non-conference game this season. The website notes:

42. Cornell at Syracuse (Dec. 22)
No one other than Penn or Princeton has won the Ivy League in 19 years, but the Big Red have the players to break the streak and could ruin Syracuse's Christmas if the Orange don't come out focused.

The Cornell Basketball Blog Format Under Consideration

After receiving a few emails in recent weeks, including another one today, complaining about our "Cornellian Red" colored background, we are experimenting with a "white" background. We would appreciate feedback on the current blog appearance.

We did use a lighter color of red a few months ago--- but the shade did not look a true Cornell red.

On a related note, we are planning to move this blog within the next few months to a full independent website. The new publishing software will be much improved with far more functionality and more user friendly. We also hope to launch a message board and forum. Please be patient. This blog is still in infant stages-- only started at the conclusion of last season, March 2007!

Go Big Red.

High Hopes for Hartford

The Cornell Basketball Blog
has high expectations for Jason Hartford this season, picking him on our preseason 2nd Team All-Ivy League team.

An analysis of his game-by-game production during 2005-2006 suggests that Hartford could very well be one of the biggest surprises in the Ivy League during 2007-2008 after sitting out last season as a medical red-shirt. Hartford's season highlights two years ago included a 7-of-8 from the floor performance for a career-high 21 points at Yale. Hartford also scored 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting at No. 10 Washington, posted 10 points and eight rebounds, including making both 3-point attempts, against Penn and notched 11 points and 5 rebounds against Albany. He also contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds in the 2005-2006 opening game against St. Francis (Pa.). His most memorable individual play was putting back a missed 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left to play in a win over Harvard, ending the contest with six rebounds and a career-high four blocks against the Crimson's highly regarded front line of Brian Cusworth and Matt Stehle.

On the year, Hartford averaged 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action per game in 21 appearances (20 off the bench). He was forced out of seven contests with a broken wrist. During the year, he showed he was a threat from both inside and beyond the arc, making 66/119 FGs (56%) and 12/26 3-pointers while recording eight double-figure scoring games. More impressive, Hartford averaged 11.8 points and 4.9 rebounds while shooting 60% from the floor in the 8 games where he played at least 20 minutes. If Hartford replicates those numbers this year, he should be an All Ivy League candidate.

Big Red Attempting to Schedule Game with the Gophers

The Pioneer Press of Minnesota is reporting that the Minnesota Golden Gophers are attempting to get Yale on its 2008-2009 schedule, while the Cornell Big Red are trying to get Minnesota to agree to a game. Cornell sophomore and 2006-2007 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Ryan Wittman (pictured above) is originally from Minnesota. His father, Randy Wittman is head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Joe Lunardi Talks Cornell Big Red

As The Cornell Basketball Blog previously posted, in ESPN's Joe Lunardi's
latest installment of ESPN's Bracketology (June 2007), Cornell is projected as a 16 Seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament facing the Louisville Cardinals in Birmingham, Alabama. (If Lunardi is correct, Cornell would have the opportunity to square off against former Cornell Big Red player, Will Scott. In addition, the game in Birmingham would be a homecoming of sorts for sophomore guard, Louis Dale.) In the prior April 2007 installment of Bracketology, Cornell was picked as a 15 seed by Lunardi.

Yesterday the Daily Pennsylvanian interviewed Lunardi. Here is what Lunardi had to say about Cornell:

DP: A lot of people, including yourself, are saying Cornell is the favorite to win the Ivy League. Do you think Penn has a chance?

JL: The first brackets for this year will be posted on or about Nov. 5 and I certainly reserve the right to change my opinion based upon late recruiting and summer and fall practice information, but my inclination at this point is to stick with the Big Red by a shade. This is not one of those years where Penn or Princeton is head and shoulders above the rest of the Ivy League. This year I guess some people are leaning Cornell's way because of their experience and because of a couple of transfers. No one really knows what to make of the traditional powers because of coaching changes in the last year or two or teams that are just really young.

For more previews, see The Cornell Basketball 2007-2008 Season Preview Index.

Cornell Basketball to Play in the Prudential Center

According to an article in the associated press and a press release from NJIT, Cornell's January 15, 2008 game against NJIT will be played in Newark, New Jersey's brand new Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall Pirates. The Prudential Center seats 18,500 people for basketball games. The Prudential Center is 1 mile from the NJIT campus.

Harvard Crimson Comments on Wittman's and Gore's Profiles as High School Prospects

In today's Harvard Crimson, there is an article discussing Harvard's recent recruiting success in basketball under new Head Coach Tommy Amaker. Reference is made to Cornell's Ryan Wittman (pictured above) and Adam Gore. The article notes, "high-ranking prospects might not be the best way of judging future performance. Neither of the last two Ivy Rookies of the Year, Adam Gore and Ryan Wittman from Cornell, received any stars [from]."

While The Cornell Basketball Blog agrees that high school scouting service rankings are not the best way of assessing a prospect's future performance in college, we do want to comment on the misleading reference to Wittman and Gore. While it is true that did not "rank" Ryan Wittman nationally, he was very much a high profile recruit by Ivy League standards. Not only one of five finalists for Mr. Basketball in Minnesota, (of the network) ranked Wittman as the #6 prospect in the state of Minnesota. His list of other honors is impressive. He was also named to the 2006 Minneapolis Star Tribune All-Metro First Team, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 1st Team All State, and 2nd Team All State (regardless of school size or location) by the Pioneer Press. Not surprisingly, Wittman received several mid major scholarship offers at the Division I level prior to the start of his senior year of high school. He received his first scholarship offer from Eastern Kentucky (an NCAA tournament participant in 2005) and also received steady interest (and possible offers) from Minnesota (reported scholarship offer after he committed to Cornell), Richmond, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Marshall, Furman, Colgate, Bradley, Air Force, North Dakota State and even Indiana (former head coach Mike Davis personally called Wittman).

Adam Gore, on the other hand, was certainly a "hidden gem" of sorts for the Big Red. While he was a 3rd Team All State selection in Indiana as a high school senior (regardless of school size or location) and was selected to participate in the state's elite North-South All-Star game, most Division I schools (other than Cornell and Yale) showed little interest due to his size. Fortunately for the Big Red, Gore committed to Cornell and surprised quite a few people as a rookie.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why is Cornell Considered a Favorite?

Most of the major Ivy League previews seem unified in the belief that Cornell is the 2007-2008 favorite simply because Penn is rebuilding after it graduated seniors Ibby Jabber, Mark Zoller and Steve Danley. We believe these publications are missing the mark.

Cornell's rise to the status of preseason favorite probably has less to do with the graduation of Penn's seniors and more to do with Cornell's tremendous improvement as a basketball program.

While the Big Red graduated several seniors last year, namely Andrew Naeve, Graham Dow, Ugo Ihekweazu, Jason Mitchell, and Kevin App, the Big Red replenished the open spots on the roster with more size, athleticism and skill (with new players Jason Hartford, Jeff Foote, Andre Wilkins, Adam Gore, Collin Robinson, Aaron Richardson-Osgood and Adam Wire). More importantly, with the exception of Naeve, the Big Red returned most of last season's key players such as Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale, Alex Tyler, and Geoff Reeves.

We believe that it is Cornell's improvement, not Penn's purported rebuilding that makes the Big Red a legitimate threat to capture an Ivy League championship.

Fox Sports Cornell Basketball 2007-2008 Preview

Fox Sports released its 2007-2008 team preview for Cornell basketball. The full preview is pasted below or you may click here. The Cornell Basketball Blog added some commentary at the end of the Fox Sports Preview, below.

After winning the past three Ivy League championships, Penn is starting over without three key players from last season's team. That means it's open season for the rest of the Ivy League and Cornell is one of the teams taking aim at the title. "As good as they've been over the years, it doesn't look like it's obvious that they can go out and win the league," said Cornell coach Steve Donahue, a former Penn assistant. "That's the first time in a long time, so there's great excitement here. The guys feel it. They know there's a chance that, if they go out and do the things they are capable of doing, that there's a chance to wind up in the Big Dance. That's exciting."

It's even more exciting because of the return of sophomore Adam Gore, the 2006 Ivy League rookie of the year. Gore started all 28 games for the Big Red and scored 12.9 points per game. He scored 20 points and hit five 3-pointers in his 2006-07 debut, only to suffer a season-ending knee injury in the final seconds of the game.

Two more freshmen pick up where Gore left off, with sharp-shooting forward Ryan Wittman scoring 15.6 points per game to win the 2007 Ivy League Rookie of the Year award. Louis Dale stepped into the point for Gore and averaged 13.3 points and 3.7 assists per game.

With Dale at the point, Gore at shooting guard and Wittman on the wing, the Big Red may field the best trio of offensive players in the Ivy League. They'll also get help with scoring from Collin Robinson, a transfer from USC who sat out last season. Cornell brings two athletic 6-foot-5 sophomore wings off the bench in Geoff Reeves and Andre Wilkins.

That takes care of three spots.

But the Big Red will also need more help than it got last season from 6-9 senior Jason Hartford, who played well as a sophomore two seasons ago but missed last season with a foot injury. Help could be on the way from Jeff Foote, a 6-11 transfer from St. Bonaventure who will be eligible after the first semester.

STRENGTHS: Cornell not only returns three starters and capable bench contributors, but the Big Red also has Adam Gore, who led the team in scoring in 2005-06 but missed last season with a knee injury. With Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale and Gore, Cornell might have the best trio of offensive playmakers in the conference. Add USC transfer Collin Robinson off the bench and Cornell's offensive firepower runs deep.

WEAKNESSES: The Big Red needs some unproven players to come through in the frontcourt, especially Jason Hartford, who missed last season with a foot injury, and Jeff Foote, who won't be eligible until the end of the first semester after transferring from St. Bonaventure.

LAST YEAR: 16-12 overall, 9-5 in the Ivy League, won regular-season finale

HEAD COACH: Steve Donahue (career 74-117); eighth year at Cornell ( 74-117).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Andrew was such a terrific team player and a hard worker and great defender and did all the dirty work and rebounded the ball and really did a variety of things that really allowed us to compete with really good teams. ... I don't take that for granted that we'll be able to replace him." -- Cornell coach Steve Donahue, who must [replace] a solid big man in Andrew Naeve.

SCOUTING THE NEWCOMERS: Transfers are relatively rare in the Ivy League, especially mid-year and junior college transfers, but Cornell has one of each. Jeff Foote, a 7-foot, 210-pound center, is a mid-year transfer from St. Bonaventure who will be eligible after the first semester. Andre Wilkins, a 6-5, 210-pound forward, comes to Cornell from Blinn College in Texas, where he averaged 10.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in his only season. Both are expected to provide immediate help, Foote in the post and Wilkins out on the wing. Cornell coach Steve Donahue also brought in Aaron Richardson-Osgood, a 6-9, 220-pound forward/center who also has a chance to play right away, and Adam Wire, another 6-5, 210-pound wing who might need a little more time before he's ready to make an impact on a deep team.

KEY EARLY-SEASON GAMES: After a season opener at home against Lehigh (Nov. 10), Cornell will be test on the road at Syracuse (Dec. 22) and Duke (Jan. 6).

PROGRAM DIRECTION: With only one senior on the roster and two sophomores in the starting lineup Donahue has things pointed in the right direction. If some team is going to break Penn's grip on the Ivy League championship Cornell stands an excellent chance of making it happen.

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP: PG Louis Dale, SG Adam Gore, SF Ryan Wittman, PF Brian Kreefer, C Jason Hartford

ROSTER REPORT: Foote's first opportunity to play this season will come when the Big Red plays at Bucknell on Dec. 19. The Bucknell game will also end Cornell's longest in-season stretch between games since the 2002-03 season (20 days).

The Big Red went 2-2 on a trip to France in late May. The new signees and graduating seniors weren't allowed to play but the trip presented an excellent opportunity for some of the younger players to show what they could do. One of the ones who benefited the most was sophomore guard Geoff Reeves, who missed the first half of the 06-07 season due to injuries but finished strong. He continued his progress in France, averaging 16.5 points per game.

The trip to France was also good for junior guard Collin Robinson, a transfer from USC who sat out last season. Robinson averaged 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 3.0 steals during the four-game stretch. He was at his best putting the ball on the floor and penetrating, creating opportunities for both himself and teammates. On a team that relies mostly on long-range shooters, that quick penetration brings another dimension.

The Cornell Basketball Blog's Comments:

(1) Fox Sports incorrectly states that Hartford was a sophomore during 2005-2006. Actually, Hartford was a junior that season, sat out last year as a senior and returns in 2007-2008 as a 5th year senior.

(2) Jeff Foote is 7'0" tall, not 6'11".

(3) Interesting comment by Fox Sports that it projects junior Brian Kreefer to start at power forward while also noting that freshman Aaron Richardson-Osgood "has a chance to play right away." The Cornell Basketball Blog projects either sophomores Alex Tyler or Andre Wilkins to start at power forward for the Big Red.

Alumni News: Drew Martin '86

Drew Martin ('86), a former Cornell basketball player and 2nd Team All-Ivy selection during the '85-'86 season, was the subject of a story in the Staten Island Advance about the recent wild fires in California.

A Date in Cornell Basketball History: Remembering the Champs of 1988

Ivy League
















Mike Dement









Paul Cormier









Pete Carril









Dick Kuchen









Tom Schneider









Peter Roby









Mike Cingiser









Wally Halas

Ivy Honors

Player of the Year
Paul Maley (Yale)

Rookie of the Year
Ralph James (Harvard)

First-Team All Ivy
Jim Barton (Dartmouth)
Sam Jacobs (Cornell)
Paul Maley (Yale)
Bryan Randall (Dartmouth)
Bob Scrabis (Princeton)

Second-Team All Ivy
Walt Frazier Jr. (Pennsylvania)
Mike Millane (Cornell)
Dave Orlandini (Princeton)

Neil Phillips (Harvard)
Tyrone Pitts (Pennsylvania)

Honorable Mention All Ivy
Wolfgang Florin (Cornell), Mike Gielen (Harvard), Greg Gilda (Cornell), Ralph James (Harvard), James Paul (Cornell), Matt Shannon (Columbia), Marcus Thompson (Brown)

Ivy Top Scorers
23.8, Jim Barton (Dartmouth)
21.4, Paul Maley (Yale)
19.0, Marcus Thompson (Brown)
17.4, Tyrone Pitts (Pennsylvania)
17.1, Walt Frazier Jr. (Pennsylvania)

NCAA Tournament
3/18/88 in Los Angeles, Calif.: (1) Arizona 90, (16) Cornell 50

For our prior stories on Dates in Cornell Basketball History, click here.