Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Cornell Basketball 2007-2008 Season Preview Index


Below is a compulation of Cornell and Ivy League 2007-2008 college basketball previews from the major preseason publications and websites.









Cornell was picked as the favorite in the Preseason Ivy League Basketball Media Poll.





The Cornell Daily Sun's Cornell Basketball Preview may be accessed by clicking here.

Cornell Athletics previously issued a press release summarizing some of the national preseason college basketball publications. The press release summarizes the publications as follows:

Preseason Roundup

Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview (first)

Lindy’s College Basketball Annual (first)

Street & Smith’s/Sporting News College Basketball Yearbook (first)

Steve Donahue – Ivy Coach of the Year (Street & Smith’s)

Louis Dale – second team All-Ivy (Lindy’s), Ivy League’s best playmaker (Lindy’s)

Adam Gore – second-team All-Ivy (Lindy’s, CBS Sportsline)

Collin Robinson – Ivy Newcomer of the Year (Street & Smith’s)

Ryan Wittman – first-team All-Ivy (Street & Smith’s, Lindy’s, Athlon, CBS Sportsline), Ivy League’s best shooter (Lindy’s), Ivy League’s best NBA prospect (Lindy’s)

For the CBS Sportsline Ivy League preview, click on the image below. Note: The CBS Sportsline Preview did not predict an Ivy League champion. When picking the field of 65 for the NCAA tournament, CBS Sports inadvertently excluded an Ivy representative.























For the Sporting News/Street & Smith's Ivy League preview, click on the image
below.


















For the Lindy's Ivy League pre
view, click on the image below.


For the Athlon Ivy League preview, click on the image below.





Rivals.com ranked the Preseason Top 340 teams in the nation. Cornell was placed at #107, tops in the Ivy League. The ranking noted:


107. Cornell
Either Penn or Princeton has won the Ivy League for the past 19 years. Well-balanced Cornell can stop that streak.


Sports Illustrated picked Cornell to earn a bid to the 2007-2008 NCAA tournament in the magazine's annual college basketball preview issue. Click on the image below to increase the size of the picture.



In the CollegeInsider.com 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 CollegeInsider.com 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.






The College Sports Network also picked the Big Red as Ivy League champions. See the story below.

College Basketball Preview - Ivy League The College Sports Network By Ralph Lauro, Associate College Basketball Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - OUTLOOK: The Penn Quakers and Princeton Tigers have combined to win the last 19 Ivy League titles, but with the Quakers losing three starters and the Tigers finishing in last place in 2006-07, that streak could come to an end this season. Two teams that have the capability of knocking off three-time defending champion Penn, are the Yale Bulldogs and Cornell Big Red. The two programs finished second and third, respectively, in the conference last season and each returns an abundance of talent. The Columbia Lions are coming off their best season in quite some time and with all five starters back in the fold, they too could come out on top by season's end. With some added depth, the Brown Bears should be more dangerous this season and they could be the dark-horse of the league. The Dartmouth Big Green return a pair of standout players, but that probably won't be enough for them to finish in the upper half of the league. The Harvard Crimson, like Princeton, are breaking in a new coach and they are in the process of rebuilding.

CONFERENCE CHAMPION: Cornell

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH: 1. Cornell, 2. Yale, 3. Penn, 4. Columbia, 5. Brown, 6. Princeton, 7. Dartmouth, 8. Harvard.

TEAM BY TEAM ANALYSIS:

CORNELL - The Big Red posted its second straight winning campaign in league play last season at 9-5, a feat which it had not accomplished since the mid 1980's. Building off that success should be no problem either, as head coach Steve Donahue welcomes back three starters and a wealth of talent from last year's team that finished 16-12 overall. Not included in those returning starters is perhaps the team's most talented player in Adam Gore, who poured in 20 points in the team's opener against Northwestern before tearing his right ACL late in that game. The 2005-06 Ivy League Rookie of the Year averaged 12.9 ppg during his freshman campaign and now fully healed he should be ready to pick up right where he left off. Another sophomore that will surely have a big impact for Cornell this season is Ryan Wittman. The 6-6 forward put the team on his shoulders as a freshman last season and he was also the recipient of the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award after averaging a team-best 15.6 ppg. Wittman shattered several school records for freshman and he is deadly from long range, hitting on 43.1 percent of his attempts last season. Louis Dale is yet another talented sophomore for the Big Red and the 5-11 guard can do it all, posting 13.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 3.7 apg during is rookie campaign. He is also dangerous from behind the arc, where he shot 46.8 percent last season. USC transfer Collin Robinson, who sat out last season due to transfer rules, appears to be another scoring threat for this team and the 6-0 guard could jump right into a starting role. Cornell's frontcourt isn't as talented as its perimeter game, but it's plenty deep. Jason Hartford (6-9) missed last season with a foot injury, but in 2005-06 he averaged 7.7 rpg while showing a great deal of potential. Alex Tyler (4.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and Brian Kreefer (5.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg) will figure into the mix, but Jeff Foote could be the sleeper for the Big Red. Foote, a 6-11 transfer from St. Bonaventure, is one of the tallest players in the conference and that alone should make him an immediate impact performer.





Another Ivy League/Cornell preview appears in BasketballProspectus.com. The preview states in part:
The Ivy League
Killer Ps No More
By Caleb Peiffer, BasketballProspectus.com
November 9, 2007

CORNELL

The biggest addition to the Big Red this year will not be any freshman, but a junior: shooting guard Adam Gore, who injured his ACL in the first game of the 2007 season and missed the rest of the campaign. That loss was a huge one, as Gore was coming off a season in which he won Ivy rookie of the year honors by putting up an eFG% of 58.2 while playing 80% of Cornell's minutes. Gore will return to augment a stronger squad than the one he left, because in his absence freshmen Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman flourished. Dale, a 5'11" point guard from Birmingham, put up an eFG% of 55.9 while using a robust 28.3% of Cornell's possessions, bringing a deadly combination of three-point acumen (an efficient 44-for-94 from deep) and dribble-penetration skills (106-for-135 from the free-throw line). Wittman, a 6'6" guard/forward and the son of Timberwolves coach Randy, won Ivy rookie of the year thanks to his three-point shooting prowess. He connected on 93 of a mind-boggling 216 attempts. Adding Gore (who made 83 of 198 threes in 2006) to the fold will place Cornell among the best teams in the nation from long range, and give it the Ivy offense with the most explosive potential.

The worry is that the Big Red will be too perimeter-oriented, especially since Cornell loses its leading rebounder the past two seasons, 6'10" center Andrew Knaeve. However, 6'9” senior forward Jason Hartford showed in 2006 he can be an asset offensively and on the glass before missing last year to injury, and forwards Brian Kreefer and Alex Tyler, both 6'7”, were effective last year in limited play. The Big Red is also importing 7'0" center Jeff Foote, a transfer from St. Bonaventure, to help out down low.

Predictions

With Penn no longer the clear favorite, four teams are harboring legitimate hope of wearing the Ivy crown. It looks like there will be more parity within the Ancient Eight than there has been in years, and it's very possible that a four-loss team could win the title. Cornell's troika of offensive stars should help the Big Red take its second Ivy championship, but the race will come down to the final Ivy weekend, and don't be surprised if there's some sort of a tie for the title for the first time since 2002. Then, there actually would be an Ivy League playoff.

            2007 Pythag    % Returning       2008  
Team Wins Minutes Prediction
Cornell 8.39 63.0 10-4
Columbia 6.81 98.0 9-5
Yale 8.56 77.5 9-5
Penn 12.36 51.8 9-5
Brown 6.78 68.5 6-8
Harvard 4.56 61.2 5-9
Dartmouth 4.07 66.5 4-10
Princeton 2.84 73.0 4-10





DraftExpress.com also released an Ivy League preview. Here is what it had to say about Cornell:

IVY LEAGUE NOTES AND RAMBLINGS
-Either Penn or Princeton has won the Ivy League championship every year since 1988. This year, however, it looks like some of the other teams are finally catching up. Princeton was actually just 2-12 last season, which earned them a last place finish in the conference standings. It was the worst season in school history, and they’re actually in a rebuilding phase right now.
-The Ivy League is the only conference that does not have a tournament to decide its champion. Each team gets to play 30 non-exempt games instead of 29 due to the fact that there is no tournament.
-They are also the only div1 conference that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships.
IVY LEAGUE TEAMS
-CORNELL is a team to watch for, and there is a very good chance that they’ll be the first team who’s name does not start with the letter ‘P’ to win the Ivy League in twenty years. Forward Ryan Wittman, who averaged 15.6ppg as a freshman last season, is back. Guard Adam Gore, who missed most of last season with an injury, is also back. He is a very good outside shooter, which means that this team has weapons both inside and outside. Cornell has several other players that can pass the ball well and shoot it well from the outside. They also have some weapons coming off their bench and appear to be the most complete team in the league this season.

The Ivy League was also previewed by ESPN's Andy Glockner in ESPN.com's Summer Shoot Around. In a October 4, 2007 chat session, Glockner picked Cornell as the Ivy's "possible favorite" then in a second chat session on November 5, Glockner said, "I think Cornell is a deserving favorite." Meanwhile, in Joe Lunardi's November 5, 2007 installment of ESPN's Bracketology, Cornell is projected as the Ivy League champion and as a 15 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament facing the Georgetown Hoyas. This seed in an improvement from the June 2007 installment of ESPN's Bracketology, wherein Cornell was projected as a 16 Seed facing the Louisville Cardinals. In the prior April 2007 installment of ESPN Bracketology, Cornell was picked as a 15 seed. Lunardi ranked Cornell #59 in his projected field of 65 teams in the 2007-2008 NCAA tournament. Lunardi writes:
59. CORNELL. The last Ivy League champion not named Penn or Princeton came all the way back in 1988. And it was Cornell. Call it the 20-year itch.
In an interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian, Lundari said:

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 ... 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.

Other publications have also hinted that Cornell may be the Ivy League favorite. For example, in the September 2007 issue of Dime Magazine, Cornell rising sophomores, Ryan Wittman and Louis Dale were prominently profiled.

To see the Dime Magazine story, click on the image below.






Additionally, the Providence Journal noted on October 11, 2007, "Cornell, and not Glenn Miller’s Pennsylvania Quakers, is the preseason pick in the Ivy League."

The folks in Cambridge seem to think Cornell is the favorite as well. The Harvard Crimson picked Cornell to win the Ivy League title. On March 21, 2007, the The Harvard Crimson also wrote as follows:

Looking at schools that haven’t won a title in the past three years, Cornell is the name I hear most often as a potential contender for next year’s title. There is good reason for this, as the Big Red, who finished third in the league last season, bring back the top two rookies from the 2006-2007 campaign in Ryan Wittman and Louis Dale. Joining those two should be three-point stud Adam Gore—the Rookie of the Year in 2005-2006—who missed last season with a torn ACL.

On March 27, 2007, the Philadelphia Inquirer also called Cornell a threat to the Ivy title as well.

A look around the Ivy League shows Cornell as perhaps the biggest threat to take over the top spot. Next year's champion can expect to have as many as three losses on its league record, which could make for a legitimate race. The Big Red, which finished third with a 9-5 record, have three starters returning. Although the team will lose 6-10 center Andrew Naeve, Cornell will welcome back 6-0 guard Adam Gore, who sat out this season because of a knee injury after being named 2006 rookie of the year. The Big Red also boast the '07 rookie of the year in 6-6 forward Ryan Wittman. Coach Steve Donahue will have the services of a pair of transfers in 6-0 guard Collin Robinson (Southern Cal) and 7-0 center Jeff Foote (St. Bonaventure).





CollegeHoopsNet.com
("CHN") picked Yale to win the Ivy League. CHN, however, admitted that "Cornell will be picked by some to win the championship this year." However, Jeff Borzello, a writer with CollegeHoopsNet.com disagreed with site and projected a full 65-team NCAA Tournament bracket, picking Cornell as a No. 15 seed and Ivy champion. Click on the image below to view Borzello's brackets.












Hoopville.Net also suggested that Yale could be the favorite in the Ivy League. Hoopville.Net's full Cornell/Ivy Preview, can be viewed by clicking here. Below is the relevant Cornell preview.

Preseason Awards
Player of the Year:
Eric Flato, Yale
Top Newcomer: Collin Robinson, Cornell
Top Freshman: Harrison Gaines, Penn
Defensive Player of the Year: Travis Pinick, Yale
Best NBA Prospect: Ryan Wittman, Cornell

All-Ivy Team
John Baumann, Sr. F, Columbia
Eric Flato, Sr. G, Yale
Brian Grandieri, Sr. G, Pennsylvania
Mark McAndrew, Sr. G, Brown
Ryan Wittman, So. G-F, Cornell


Cornell Big Red (16-12, 9-5 Ivy, third place)
Projected Starters:
So. G Louis Dale (13.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.7 apg)
Jr. G Adam Gore (12.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.3 apg in 2005-06)
So. G-F Ryan Wittman (15.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.3 apg)
Jr. F Brian Kreefer (5.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
Sr. F Jason Hartford (7.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg in 2005-06)
Schedule Highlights: The Big Red's non-conference slate features something rare for teams at this level: a slew of early home games. Of the six non-conference home games on tap, five come in the first six games, including MAAC contender Siena. After four straight home games, they go on the road for five straight, including Patriot League contender Bucknell, Syracuse and Duke. The Ivy League slate is favorable in that they don't have a prolonged road stretch, although they do have three straight after playing Columbia at home in January. Towards the end of February, they play four straight at home before finishing with the tough Penn/Princeton weekend.
Outlook: The Big Red would be an equally worthy choice to win the conference this season, as they have the firepower on offense and were a solid defensive team last season. With Dale, Wittman and the return of Gore, there is plenty of scoring ability on the perimeter. USC transfer Collin Robinson adds to it, and wings Geoff Reeves and Jason Battle are capable reserves. The big questions are in the frontcourt with the departure of Andrew Naeve, as there isn't much experience beyond Hartford and Kreefer. St. Bonaventure transfer Jeff Foote, who is eligible in December, brings good size since he's a seven-footer. If some help can emerge there, the Big Red may have enough to complement the perimeter offense. The only other big question revolves around the team's experience, as two sophomores and a junior who has only played one year project to start. At times last season the Big Red looked like a young team in making mistakes that are often erased with experience, and if they eliminate those mistakes, they could come out on top.

CSTV.com also picked Yale to win the Ivy League. CSTV's Ivy League preview is quoted below:







Penn has been the class of the Ivy League for the past three years, but the Quakers graduated a lot from last year's squad that lost only once in conference play and reached the NCAA Tournament before falling to Texas A&M in the first round. Now with two-time Ivy League Player of the Year Ibrahim Jaaber, First Team All-Ivy selection Mark Zoller and three-year starter and shot blocker Steve Danley graduated, Penn coach Glen Miller knows this might not be the year that the Quakers make it four straight conference titles. So with the league race wide open again, this season could be the year that has Yale standing at the top of the standings and dancing with the big boys in March. From the sight of the Bulldogs' 14-13 record last year, you wouldn't give much thought to James Jones' team this upcoming year, but the eighth-year coach already has an important piece in figuring out the postseason puzzle. That's First Team All-Ivy guard Eric Flato, who averaged 15.3 points and 3.6 assists last season and shot 39 percent from three-point range. The senior captain hit 71 three-pointers in 2006-07, one shy of the program's single-season record. But with his backcourt mate Casey Hughes no longer with him in New Haven, Conn., Flato will have to find a new scoring partner -- either brothers Caleb and Nick Holmes or junior Ross Morin -- who can take some of the weight off his shoulders.

Prediction: Yale

Player of the Year: Eric Flato (Sr.), Yale
A pair of amateur blogs have also recently released their Ivy League previews. A student writer for CollegeHoopsNet released his season predictions this week indicating Cornell is among the Ivy favorites, while another blog, Rush the Court, picked the Big Red to finish 3rd in the Ivy.

FoxSports.com also offers one of the most in depth previews, but does not predict an order of finish in the Ivy League. Sportsline.com also provides its Ivy League Primer.













Kieran Darcy, a columnist for ESPN.com, and ESPN The Magazine referenced Cornell in his article, "Sixty-five reasons to gorge on college basketball." Darcy is also a general editor for ESPN.com's Page 2. He joined ESPN in August of 2000, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball for the Quakers.

Darcy writes:

19. The Ivy League -- the last conference in America that (properly) awards its automatic bid to the regular-season champ -- will be more wide open than it's been in many years. For the first time since 1988-89, neither Penn nor Princeton is the preseason favorite. Cornell is projected to come out on top.

Here is a blurb from an article previewing Penn basketball in the Philadelphia publication, The Bulletin.

When the Ivy League's preseason poll was released last Wednesday, something wasn't right. Atop the ranking sat - Cornell?.... Cornell [the Ivy League favorite]... boast the Ivy's most dangerous duo in All-Ivy point guard Louis Dale and 2007 Rookie of the Year Ryan Wittman, and Yale, last season's runner-up.


In a Philadelphia Daily News article discussing the 2007-2008 hoops season, a reference was made to Cornell.

...Buckle up, here are 50 things to know about the upcoming college hoop season that will help make the ride to San Antonio a little smoother:

31. The Ivy League is wide open this year with Cornell, Penn and Yale all having decent shots at grabbing the title. The last time the Ivy League was represented in the NCAA Tournament by a team other than Penn or Princeton was 1988 when Cornell lost to Sean Elliott's Arizona Final Four team in the first round.
Finally, below is the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook Cornell Preview. Blue Ribbon picked Yale to win the Ivy League:
The Bulldogs are Blue Ribbon's favorite to take the Ivy championship because the whole is greater than the sum of their parts.”

Team preview: Cornell

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook

Cornell Big Red

Last Season16-12 (.571)
Conference Record9-5 (3rd)
Starters Lost/Returning2/3
CoachSteve Donahue (Ursinus '84)
Record At School74-117 (7 years)
Career Record74-117 (7 years)
RPI Last 5 years292-268-212-207-170

COACH AND PROGRAM

It should have been inescapable, a blunt-force trauma to Cornell's entire season.

For a casual fan, it was inescapable. All year long, Adam Gore's name sat atop the Big Red's scoring statistics -- he averaged 20 points per game. Trouble was, his first game of 2006-07 was his last.

Gore (12.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, .419 3PT in 2005-06) had dropped those points on Northwestern, leading the Big Red to its first victory over a Big 10 team since 1968. But in the final minute of that stunner, the 6-0 sophomore and former Ivy Rookie of the Year sustained a torn right ACL.

Goodbye, progress, right? Just as head coach Steve Donahue had settled his team on the Ivy League escalator with back-to-back winning conference records for the first time since the mid-1980s, down goes the cornerstone.

But a strange thing happened on the way to calamity. The Big Red didn't get chewed up and pressed under a desk.

Out went one rookie of the year but in came another, sharpshooter Ryan Wittman (15.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, .431 3PT) and Cornell actually improved its Ivy mark by a game, though the league title once again proved elusive.

"We hated to see him go down in the first game of the season, but other guys stepped forward to really assert themselves in [Gore's] absence,'' Donahue said.

Now Gore is back, fortifying an already ridiculous pile of backcourt riches (by Ivy standards). Donahue thinks this team is strong as ever. The question is, will Gore be strong enough to wedge him-self into the best guard rotation in the league?

"He's got a terrific jump shot,'' Donahue said. "Now we want him to continue developing the rest of his game.''

One of Gore's side-gunners is Wittman, the son of Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Randy Wittman. All the 6-6 sophomore did during his first season in Ithaca was wipe out the school's freshman scoring record with 436 points, establish a program standard for made three-pointers (93) and average 35.4 minutes per game, the most for a Big Red player in 10 years.

PLAYERS

Gore's injury overshadowed what Ryan Wittman had done in his first collegiate game -- namely, score 18 points while playing all 40 minutes, another Cornell freshman first. Wittman was fourth in the Ivy League in scoring, second in free-throw percentage (.887) and sixth in three-point accuracy.

And there's more on the way, believes Donahue: "He's going to be much stronger and more confident. He played a lot of basketball last year, and he's obviously a very good shooter.''

Instrumental in Wittman's development was the emergence of another first-year stud, 5-11 sophomore Louis Dale (13.3 ppg, 4.3 ppg, 3.7 apg, .468 3PT). It was Dale who substantively filled Gore's absence, earning honorable mention All-Ivy while ranking third in the conference in assists.

More remarkably, the sub-six-footer Dale ranked second on the team in rebounds and canned a higher percentage of his three attempts than Wittman.

Oddly, Dale wasn't the only point guard on the floor for Cornell. Then-senior Graham Dow soaked up just as many minutes and doled out five more assists than Dale. Dow just didn't gen-erate as much scoreboard wattage, scoring just more than five points per game.

Offense shouldn't be a problem for Collin Robinson (1.4 ppg, 9 games in 2005-06), a 6-0 junior transfer from the University of Southern California. Robinson sat out the obligatory NCAA transfer season before accompanying the Big Red on its overseas tour of France last summer.

With an injured Dale remaining stateside, Robinson was magnifique, averaging 20.5 points and 6.5 assists in four games against French national and club teams.

Lest we think Dale and Robinson are fighting for the same spot, Donahue asserts that they are two very different animals. Robinson is creative, even dare-devilish, in the lane, while Dale is the better outside shooter.

"Louis is more a pure point guard, looking to distribute first,'' Donahue said. "Collin is looking to make something happen around the basket. He has a scorer's mentality.”

As if Gore, Wittman, Dale and Robinson weren't enough to stuff in the backcourt, Donahue would love to find space for a pair of 6-5 sophomores with vast potential, Geoff Reeves (3.5 ppg, 0.5 rpg, .500 3PT) and Andre Wilkins (10.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg at Blinn College in Texas).

Reeves missed 11 games last year with a back ailment but brings another athletic shooter into the fold. He too benefited from the French trip, scoring 15 or more points in each game.

Wilkins, a junior college transfer who grew up on the rough side of Toronto, has the opportunity to become a high-flying swingman in the normally flat-footed Ivy League. Wilkins shot 65.8 per-cent from the floor in one year at Blinn. A Nike Canadian all-star from Emery High, Wilkins also won a Nike camp slam-dunk contest as a senior.

"He's a big kid who can break down a defense,'' Donahue said.

Other guards who might be lost in the shuffle are 6-4 junior Jason Battle (3.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg), an eight-game starter last year; and 6-5 junior Conor Mullen (2.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg).

Khaliq Gant, a 6-3 senior who suffered a serious neck injury while diving for a loose ball in practice two years ago, has made a remarkable recovery. Although he likely will not play basketball again, he is fully mobile and back to being a normal student on campus. Donahue didn't speculate on Gant's basketball future, although he would be eligible to pursue a medical hard-ship waiver for last year's lost season from the Ivy League.

The Big Red frontcourt is not nearly as stocked as the perimeter, and as such it is a portent for the team's championship chances in 2007-08.

Andrew Naeve, Cornell's best rebounder and interior anchor, has graduated. Replacing his 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds a contest may fall to an oft-injured senior who didn't even play last season, 6-9 Jason Hartford (7.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg as a sophomore).

When healthy two years ago, Hartford was tricky; he had to be respected out to the three-point arc and knocked people around with his back to the hoop. But a foot injury forced the Oregon native to sit out the entire 2006-07 season, so his contributions this season are hard to measure.

"Jason has a solid physical presence and can step away from the basket,'' Donahue said. "We'll expect him to be a real solid contributor in the post.''

A pair of 6-7 forwards, sophomore Alex Tyler (4.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and junior Brian Kreefer (5.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg), also figure in the Big Red paint-by-numbers. Tyler finished strong last year, even managing to steal an Ivy League Rookie-of-the-Week award away from Dale and Wittman after scoring 14 points on back-to-back nights against Dartmouth and Harvard.

A 'tweener with high-post handle and a low-post build, Kreefer started 10 games as a sophomore, producing more in the season's first half than the second.

Jeff Foote, a 6-11 junior transfer from St. Bonaventure, is an intriguing option in the middle. He didn't play in a year-and-a-half with the Bonnies, but anyone nearing seven feet tall in the Ivy League is going to get a hard look. Two other sophomore posts with limited experience are 6-8 Pete Reynolds (1.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg) and 6-7 Jon Jaques (1.3 ppg, 8 games).

Freshmen Aaron Richardson-Osgood (12.5 ppg) a 6-9 product of Overlake (Wash.) High and The Hill School (Pa.), and Adam Wire (13.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 6.0 apg), a 6-6 swingman from Pinecrest High in Southern Pines, N.C., might have to wait their turns.

BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS

BACKCOURT: A
BENCH/DEPTH: B
FRONTCOURT: C-
INTANGIBLES: A-

If the Ivy League suddenly decided to go 6-on-6, like the Iowa girls high school teams of yore, Cornell would be sizing up championship rings in November.

Imagine depositing Gore and Dale on one end of the court, Wittman and Robinson on the other and letting Hartford and Tyler mop up the rare misses.

Alas, the Ancient Eight isn't that retro. The Big Red still have to be considered one of the top three contenders for a league race that's looking a lot like an Iowa caucus (if not Iowa basketball).

But five-on-five means protecting the basketball on your end and turning it over on the other one; Cornell's -3.14 turnover margin in league play was the worst among the Ivies last year.

Donahue believes he can occasionally roll out four-guard lineups and trust that someone among Hartford, Tyler and Kreefer inside will hold his own. If that works, his team will be the most entertaining conglomerate in the league. It may even be enough to let Cornell escape with its first Ivy title in 20 years.

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