Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cornell France Tour-- Travel Diary Update











The latest update on Cornell's French Tour, courtesy of Jeremy Hartigan, Cornell's Director of Athletic Communications.

http://cornellbigred.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/052307aab.html


May 31, 2007

5:32 p.m. (French time) - Ok, not so much with the updating again last night. Today's blog is sponsored by Ryan Wittman, who is currently sticking his head out the window in anticipation of a blog update. This idea is really catching on ... I feel a great deal of momentum with it. I think next year I charge subscriptions ...

Well, it's our last full day in France and the weather has been overcast with rain on and off throughout the day on the beautiful French Riviera. We made our way through Cannes yesterday, and with the exception of seeing some multi-million dollar yachts and searching for Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, not a whole lot to say there.

We arrived in Nice about two hours later and got our first look at the French Riviera and the most blue (bluest just doesn't look right when you spell it out) water possible. It was an incredible sight to take in, but a major bad point is that the beach isn't made up of sand, but rather millions of rocks. Not as much comfortable as uncomfortable. By the way, currently the players are exchanging greetings across our U shaped hotel, talking back and forth through the windows.

This is definitely a tourist town for those with money, but also a beautiful area less than 20 miles from the Italian border and a short train ride from Monaco (a group of coaches and staff with their wives went there this morning).

Tonight's game is against the national team of Luxembourg. I think everyone has been pleasantly surprised by how good the competition has been and are looking forward to the last game. After the contest we are heading to a local restaurant for our last supper (appropriate with all the religious symbols and churches we have seen this week).

Internet connection has been spotty (to say the least) and has forced me to not upload massive pictures, but we will do up a large photo gallery of the trip when we get back. With summer coming up, maybe it will spice the web site up a bit for the next couple weeks.

8:54 p.m. - I couldn't resist posting ... it's halftime and we're trailing 50-38. The Luxembourg team is very skilled (man, they really can pass the ball) and physical, but it's the referees playing a big role in the first 20 minutes. The fouls at the half are 17-9, but it was 13-1 at one point and only after the national team took a 17-point lead did the second foul come. We also have been called for four travels and two out-of-bounds calls where are players likely had five or six feet to the sidelines.

Just got done talking to women's basketball player Moina Snyder, a native of France, who dropped by to see the game. There is probably 25 people watching the game with no pomp and circumstance unlike the other games. We might be struggling because we didn't get a chance to meet the mayor. There actually would be about 45 if you count the kids taking karate overlooking the court, but they seem pretty focused on breaking the sheets of ice (arbitrary Karate Kid reference).

I get the strong feeling that these teams are very evenly matched, and that if you put this game in America, we'd have the lead, but our squad is used to the physical play followed by the touch fouls prevalent in the FIBA game.

9:12 p.m. - Ok, so we go on a 13-1 run to tie the game at 51-51. See, told you these teams were even. I'm tremendously smart ... 6:50 left in the third quarter.

10:03 p.m. - After a near bench-clearing brawl and more bad officiating, the Big Red loses 94-85 in its finale. With about five minutes left in the game, Geoff Reeves and a Luxembourg player got wrapped up going for a rebound and behind the play, the Luxembourg player shoved Reeves to the floor. Both benches cleared, though nothing other than words were exchanged. Officials (of course) didn't see any of it, did nothing to break it up, and then wanted to collect their money and go home. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and after both teams took a short break at the benches, the game was back on. An argument over the shot clock became comical when a cat walked right onto the court. Our Director of Sports Marketing Jeff Hall also served as unofficial mop guy, dancing his way out onto the floor two or three times. It was a gigantic circus.

By the way, no need to say I'm a homer ... final foul count 31-19 ... free throw attempts 49-25 ... I'll let you guess who came out on top.

Now we're heading back to eat dinner courtesy the Luxmbourg team ... we may not beat them on the court this year, but at least we'll get a chance to party it up on their tab.

12:39 a.m. - Just leaving the Cargo Restaurant, owned by Didier Verse, a former teammate of former Big Red assistant coach Paul Fortier. He gave us, by far, the best meal in France and was absolutely the nicest human being we met in our time here. Coach Donahue gave up the shirt of his back (literally) and we took a team photo with him. Pam Donahue was most excited about sitting in a seat at the bar that George Clooney sat in just a wek ago while he was in town for the Cannes Film Festival. Right now we're on the way back to the hotel and going for an encore of Alouette Gentille Alouette. Not sure what we're going to do on bus rides next year without Patricia, the best tour guide in the history of France. We're back to singing, and it's Louis Dale's turn to do a song, and he's going with "I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5. Not very good, though a good college try. We're now breaking into song, doing Madonna's "Like A Virgin." We have a wake up call in less than six hours, which will come too early.

Spotlight on: Adam Gore






















Much to the chagrin of opposing Ivy League coaches, Adam Gore (6'0" So.), the 2005-2006 Ivy League Rookie of the Year (and Second Team All-Ivy selection) returns to the Cornell Big Red for the 2007-2008 season after sitting out 27 games last year due to a knee injury suffered in a season-opening road win over Northwestern. In his lone game last year against the Big Ten member Wildcats, Gore finished with 20 points and 4 assists. Reports from the Cornell program suggest that his rebabilitation is going extremely well and that he is virtually ready for game action.

As a freshman during 2005-2006, Gore shot 43% from the floor and 42% from beyond the arc on route to a team leading 12.9 points per game. A reliable scorer, he reached double figures in 10 of the team's 14 Ivy games. He also shot a solid 83% from the free throw line, while chipping in 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game as a combo guard. In his first year with the program, Gore set school records for points and three-pointers in a season by a freshman, which were subsequently broken last year by Ryan Wittman (6'6" So).

Believe it or not, we should see a more efficient Adam Gore in 2007-2008. As a feshman during 2005-2006, Gore was one of only two Cornell players to shoot better than 36% from beyond the arc. Accordingly, Cornell quite often looked to Gore to carry much of the scoring load. Unfortunately, as Cornell's lone perimeter threat, Gore struggled against better Ivy teams, especially against the likes of the Penn Quakers, as defenses began to collapse on him, denying him open looks around the arc. However, during 2007-2008, Gore returns to a much more talented Cornell roster with several high-percentage perimeter shooters. In addition to the explsoive USC transfer Collin Robinson and Gore, Cornell should have four additional players who can shoot above 40% from beyond the three-point arc. They include:

Louis Dale 5’11” So. 44/94 (.468), 13.3 ppg
Ryan Wittman 6’6” So. 93/216 (.431), 15.6 ppg
Geoff Reeves 6’5” So. 11/22 (.500), 3.5 ppg
Jason Hartford 6’9” Sr. (05-06 stats) 12/26 (.462), 7.7 ppg

With such an array of pure shooters (not to mention slashers) on the floor, Gore should find more open space to operate this year. Look for the Indiana native to share time in the now loaded backcourt rotation with Dale, Robinson and Reeves. He should continue to see minutes at both guard positions. The bigger question: will he start again? Steve Donahue will have to find the right chemistry among his three All Ivy Leaguers (Gore, Wittman, and Dale) and the explosive Robinson. But this is a good problem to have.


France Report: Fear the Kreefer











We've mentioned earlier this week that Collin Robinson is averaging 2o points and has made 6 of 13 three-point attempts during the first three games in France. Another player observation we have made during the French tour involves the recent hot perimeter shooting of Brian Kreefer (pictured above).

In an earlier post on this site, we noted that although Kreefer did knock down 13 three pointers during 2006-2007, 5 of his makes came on a hot shooting night against Army where he was 5/7 from downtown. Thus, aside from the Army game, Kreefer was 8 of 43 from beyond the arc on the season, a mere 19%. More important, he was also just 1 of 10 from beyond the arc against Ivy opponents during 2006-2007.

During the French tour, Kreefer has been "lights out" from downtown. He has thus far made 3/6, 2/3 and 2/4 of his three-pointer attempts in the three games in France, or 7 of 13 overall. This bodes well for the coming 2007-2008 season. Still, we'd like to see Kreefer use his 6'7" 230 lb. frame inside the paint. He has the physical tools to be a tough interior scorer next year.

Kreefer will likely share time at the power forward and center positions with Jason Hartford (6'9" 240), Alex Tyler (6'7" 240), Jeff Foote (7'0" 215), and Pete Reynolds (6'8" 210).

2007-2008 Cornell Big Red Roster

Below is an early glimpse of the 2007-2008 Cornell roster. Notable from the roster, of the 18 listed players, 10 have sophomore eligibility status while 2 others are true freshmen. There are 3 juniors and potentially as many 3 seniors. Of the 3 listed seniors, Shawn Oliverson may not return to the team following the comletion of his Mormon LDS Mission this fall. If he does return to the program for the 2007-2008 season, he is eligible for two additional seasons having played only one year at Cornell. In addition, classmate Khaliq Gant was medically red-shirted his sophomore and junior seasons. He has additional years of eligibility should he choose to return to Cornell for a 5th year and attempt an incredible return to the playing floor.


No.

Name

Pos.

Year

Ht.

Wt.

High School/Hometown

5

Battle, Jason

G

JR

6-4

195

New Hanover HS/Wilmington, N.C.

12

Dale, Louis

G

SO

5-11

177

Altamont School/Birmingham, Ala.

-

Foote, Jeff

C

SO (RS)

7-0

210

Spencer-Van Etten HS/Lockwood, N.Y. (St. Bona. transfer)

23

Gore, Adam

G

SO (RS)

6-0

174

Monrovia HS/Monrovia, Ind.

44

Hartford, Jason

F/C

5th-SR (RS)

6-9

240

Tillamook HS/Tillamook, Ore.

25

Jaques, Jon

F

SO

6-7

214

Harvard-Westlake School/Los Angeles, Calif.

34

Kreefer, Brian

F

JR

6-7

220

East Liverpool HS, Ohio

22

Mullen, Conor

G/F

JR

6-5

202

Bishop O'Dea HS/Seattle, Wash.

15

Reeves, Geoff

G/F

SO

6-5

183

Burlington HS/Burlington, Kan.

40

Reynolds, Pete

F

SO

6-8

210

Blair HS/Blair, Neb.

-

Robinson, Collin

G

SO (RS)

6-0

160

Diamond Bar HS/Diamond Bar, Calif. (USC transfer)

33

Tyler, Alex

F

SO

6-7

230

Mercersburg Academy/Clear Spring, Md.

20

Wittman, Ryan

G/F

SO

6-6

200

Eden Prairie HS/Eden Prairie, Minn.

21

Gant, Khaliq

G

SR (RS)

6-3

180

Marion-Tabor Academy/Norcross, Ga.

-

Richardson-Osgood, Aaron

C

FR

6-9

215

Redmond, WA/Hill School (Pottstown, Pa)

45

Oliverson, Shawn

C

SR (RS)

6-11

245

Preston HS, ID.

-

Wire, Adam

F

FR

6-6

210

Pinecrest HS, N.C.

-

Wilkins, Andre

F/G

SO

6-5

210

Emery Coll. Inst./Toronto, CAN./Blinn College

Nebraska Point Guard Chooses CSU over Cornell










The Coloradoan is reporting that Jesse Carr, a point guard from Nebraska committed to Colorado State over Cornell and others. See the full story at the link below:

Nebraska hoops star picks CSU


New Colorado State University men's basketball coach Tim Miles has landed his first verbal commitment for the 2008-09 academic year.

Jesse Carr, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound point guard from Ainsworth, Neb., said Wednesday night he will sign with the the Rams next fall.

Carr averaged 23.3 points, 9.9 assists and 6.1 rebounds as a junior this past season for Ainsworth High School, which went 24-1 and won the Nebraska Class C-1 title. It was the first state basketball title for the school of about 140 students in a town of about 1,200 residents.

Carr was a first-team selection to the all-Nebraska team selected by the Omaha World-Herald.

"He's just pretty much the triple threat," Ainsworth co-coach Harlin Welch said. "He can shoot it; he's got pretty much unlimited range; he can make the great pass and he can also take it to the bucket. He's hard to guard."

Carr also was being recruited by Bradley, Nevada, Wichita State, Southern Methodist, Cornell and Colgate, Welch said.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Adam Wire to NCCA All-Star Game



Cornell recruit, Adam Wire, a 6'6" wing forward from Pinecrest H.S. (North Carolina) was selected to participate in the North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA) East-West All-Star game to be held on July 16, 2007 at the Greensboro Coliseum. We were able to identify at least nine future Division I players who were invited to participate in the event. Below are the all-star rosters with college destinations in bold-face.

EAST-NORTH CAROLINA ALL STARS

Kenneth Bazemore (Bertie HS/Old Dominion)
Justin Burton (Riverside HS)
Sean Grzeck (Hoggard HS)
Yorel Hawkins (Apex HS/Fairfield)
DeAngelo Jackson (Harnett Central HS)
DaQuan Joyner (Goldsboro HS/East Carolina)
Jontae Sherrod (Tarboro HS/East Carolina)
Ford Tanner (South Johnston HS/UNC walk-on)
Adam Wire (Pinecrest HS/CORNELL)
Brock Young (Broughton HS/East Carolina)

WEST-NORTH CAROLINA ALL STARS

Roy Allison (Northwest Cabarrus HS)
Kenny Belton (
Dudley HS/Cincinnati)
DeMarquis Bost (
Concord HS)
Jamel Carpenter (West Rowan HS)

Donterious Hughes (Hunter Huss HS
)
Chris Jacobs (Glenn HS)
Dion Malachi (Crest HS)
Matthew Rushing (
East Gaston HS)
Demontez Stitt (
Butler HS/Clemson)
Mezie Uzochukwu (
Northeast Guilford HS)

Spotlight on: Andre Wilkins
























We reported earlier in the week that Cornell received a 3rd verbal recruiting commitment for the 2007-2008 season from junior college transfer Andre Wilkins (6'5" 210 lbs, Toronto, Canada Emery H.S./Blinn College, Texas).

See our prior story here.

While attending high school in Toronto, Canadian recruiting expert Jim Thomas reported that Wilkins received recruitment interest during the summer of 2005 from Cornell, Brown, the University of Iowa, Canisius, Stony Brook and St. Michael's, a Division II school in Vermont. Wilkins ultimately committed to Brown University, but then changed his mind when head coach Glen Miller moved his fast-break offense to Penn. Wilkins thereafter made a commitment to the College of Charleston, but had his scholarship revoked when Bobby Cremins, the infamous former Georgia Tech coach, took over the Cougars' program prior to the start of the 2006-2007 season. Wilkins then ultimately decided to attend Blinn College in Texas and search for a new Division I home.

As a freshman at Blinn, Wilkins shared floor time with three other Division I recruits. He still managed solid numbers, contributing 8.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 63 percent from the field. Blinn coach Steve Spurlin said, “He plays with a lot of energy. That's something you can't really teach; either you have it or you don't. He gets those rebounds and puts stuff in because he's always moving and working hard.” Known as a slasher with an above the rim style of play, Wilkins only took three 3-pointers all season at Blinn. He will need to work on his perimeter shooting game if he is going to find playing time for Cornell-- which boasts an already deep unit of perimeter players. Still, Wilkins's speed, leaping and athletic ability could fit in well with a Louis Dale and Collin Robinson led Cornell backcourt. He also has the potential of playing some time at power forward similar to that of Ugo Ihekweazu last season. Reports suggest that Wilkins is up to the challenge. TexasHoops.com evaluated Andre as, "a hard working paint player who attacks the boards and comes up with loose balls. He is a very good scorer in the lane, is quick to the rim and finishes well against bigger players."

Wilkins arrives at Cornell with three years of immediate eligibility and an impressive resume. As a high school senior in Toronto, Thomas (www.thehoop-la.com) ranked Wilkins as the #2 small forward in Canada, while fellow Canadian basketball guru Barry Hayes (www.theHoopLife.ca) ranked Wilkins as the #4 overall player at the Nike All-Canada Basketball camp. Hayes said, “There’s a killer desire in the way Andre plays. He has no problem finishing strong in traffic with a combination of long arms and a big vertical. Those arms come in handy when he’s guarding players on the perimeter or looking for rebounds as well. Won the camp’s Dunk Contest.” As we mentioned previously, Hoop Scoop recruiting service also ranked Wilkins as the #593 recruit in North America. Wilkins also won the slam dunk contest at the All-Canada basketball game, the country's version of the McDonald's All-America All-Star game.




Cornell France Tour-- Travel Diary Update



An update from Director of Athletic Communications, Jeremy Hartigan's French Tour Daily Travel Diary:



May 30, 2007

9:50 a.m. (French time) - Another early morning, this time so we can head to Cannes (home of the famed Cannes Film Festival). We'll just have a quick stopover there to look around a bit, then off to Nice. This is the second foreign trip that has included a visit to Cannes (though it was spelled Cairns in Australia).

A few thoughts about last night's surreal singing ...

First of all, Collin Robinson was into it ... really into it. The consensus was that he really helped his stock for EuroIdol. Geoff Reeves also put himself into the driver's seat with a controlled, yet not quite inspiring, version of Ice Ice Baby. Not so much for Alex Tyler, who seemed to forget his words to Ice Ice Baby and stopped short. I think Conor Mullen was also solid. Kreef and Khaliq both gave great efforts, while Adam Gore was the big loser after refusing to get up twice. I also refused, but just once, as I was searching my iPod for a good song choice. If only they had asked a second time ...

I take it back about the big winner ... Patricia was the big winner for starting the singing and getting the guys into it. She did karaoke and got everyone singing Alouette Gentille Alouette. It will go down as one of the all-time classics.

We also forgot to mention the Super Bowl-length halftime full of "American Music" ... that is, 12 middle aged Aix-En-Provence natives doing line dancing. Our guys joked about it, but it wouldn't have flown (flied?) in a real game. The team has also adjusted (more or less) to the officiating. The game in Europe, for all the talk about skilled Europeans, is much more physical. You basically have to be mugged to get a foul call. Also, dribbling is optional. It is almost impossible to walk, though somehow Ryan Wittman figured out how to do it twice in last night's game. The old European step (five steps in the lane) somehow is not a walk, while a head fake and dribble is. Regardless, turnovers have not been a problem in any of the games which is also a great sign for next year, as has the unselfishness among the top scorers. Both Witt and Collin are averaging about six assists per game, while the team is averaging 19 assists per game.

I can't speak for everyone, and I'm not Nostradamus (though we did walk past his museum yesterday in Aix-En-Provence on our walking tour after meeting the Mayor and the American consular prior to our game), but I'm pretty excited about the team next year. Put aside the fact that the squad will be immensely talented when you add in a healthy Jason Battle, Louis Dale, Adam Gore, Jason Hartford and an eligible Jeff Foote. Add in the three incoming recruits (more on them next week), and the battle for minutes will be hard fought. Even more than the talent is the way they carry themselves ... they have plenty of fun, but as a group they are respectful and courteous, they work hard, they are welcoming and they seem to enjoy each other's company. Special teams have a special aura around them ... it's too early to say whether this could be a special team, but we definitely have tremendous people.

Almost at Cannes now ... back later tonight.

Ivy Notes: Harvard's Tommy Amaker Making Some Noise




New Harvard head basketball coach Tommy Amaker is making some noise in the offseason as he is scheduling tough games and recruiting some high profile players. With respect to scheduling, the Crimson will host Amaker's former team, the Michigan Woliverines this season. In addition, Amaker will take the Crimson to a pair of solid tournaments-- one at Stanford (which will also include UCSB and Northwestern State) as well as a tournament at Fresno State (which also include San Diego State and Liberty.

On the recruiting front, Harvard will receive an on-campus unofficial visit within the next few weeks from 6'10" 230 lb. post player, Andrew Van Nest out of Northfield Mt. Hermon Prep (Mass). Van Nest already has scholarship offers from UMass, Northwestern, Davidson and Richmond and has steady interest from Miami and Vanderbilt. In addition to visiting Harvard, Van Nest will also visit Penn and Princeton. More importanly, rumor has it that Harvard landed 6’10” 245 lb. former Indiana Hoosier, Cem Dinc (Pictured). After spending last season in junior college, Dinc is eligible immediately for the Crimson. He had reported offers from Michigan, Penn and G.W. before selecting Harvard.

Speaking of big men and scheduling, Cornell will not be a participant in the University of Oregon's World Vision Invitational, a perfect homecoming situation for Cornell senior Jason Hartford (Tillamook, Oregon). The Ducks filled their four team tournament with the likes of Pepperdine, Western Michigan and Pacific.


Big Red's 1956 Captain Finally Graduates Cornell U.




In 1956, Milt Kogan was voted captain of the Cornell basketball team, but during the year he left Cornell as a junior to go to medical school. He returned to campus this past weekend and finally received his undergraduate degree from Cornell. See the story below:

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/May07/Milt.Kogan.senior.sl.html




Cornell Defeats Sapela Basket 98-91-- Big Red "3-0" in France
























In front of a hostile capacity crowd of 800, Cornell, led by Collin Robinson (pictured) defeated Sapela Basket 98-91 yesterday. Cornell improves its French tour record to 2-1, however, unofficially the Big Red are 3-0 following the team's recent realization that during the tour's first game against Paris Under-20 on May 25, the scorer's table (inadvertently) did not properly add up the point totals. While the scoreboard read Paris 77 Cornell 76, the Big Red in actuality won the game.

The best news out of France is USC transfer Collin Robinson who led Cornell yesterday with 28 points, including an array of "ankle-breaking" moves and drives down the lane. In three games, he is averaging 2o points per game. More importantly, Robinson has proven to Cornell fans that he can bury the long distance three-pointer, knocking down 6 of 13 from beyond the arc during the tour.

Cornell's tour has been extremely successful, especially considering the Big Red are playing the games with only eight players (Collin Robinson, Ryan Wittman, Geoff Reeves, Brian Kreefer, Alex Tyler, Conor Mullen, Jon Jaques and Pete Reynolds). Cornell is not playing in France with as many as ten of the roster's players, including Jason Battle (home with illness), Jason Hartford (home taking summer classes), Adam Gore (rehabbing ACL), Louis Dale (minor back injury), Jeff Foote (home as per NCAA transfer regulations), Shawn Oliverson (mormon LDS mission), Adam Wire (unavailable pre-frosh), Aaron Richardson-Osgood (unavailable pre-frosh), Andre Wilkins (unavailable incoming junior college transfer) and Khaliq Gant (out indefinitely with spinal injury).

Below is the official press release from yesterday's game:

http://cornellbigred.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/052907aaa.html


May 29, 2007

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France - Cornell used a strong defensive effort in the first half and showed off its offensive prowess after halftime in a 98-91 victory over Sapela Basket 13 on Tuesday evening. Junior Collin Robinson dominated on both ends for the Big Red, who improved to 2-1 on its trip through France. He had a trip-best 28 points and added seven assists.

Robinson took over a close game by dominating in the second half, hitting on 7-of-9 field goals, several of the highlight variety, on his way to 21 points in the final 20 minutes. Ryan Wittman had 18 points, six assists and four rebounds despite having a poor shooting night, making just 7-of-19 shots overall. Wittman came through late though, hitting 4-of-5 field goals in the final quarter. Brian Kreefer notched 17 points and eight rebounds and played tremendous defense on Sapela's American star Joe Williams (Austin Peay), holding him to just 12 points on the evening.

Sophomores Geoff Reeves (16 points, four rebounds) and Alex Tyler (11 points, 10 rebounds) also hit for double figures, with Tyler registering his first double-double of the trip. Sophomore Jon Jaques had six points and three rebounds, including five in a row during a 20-6 run to end the first half to turn an 11-point deficit into a 42-38 lead heading into the locker room. Both Conor Mullen (two points, three rebounds, one assist, one block) and Pete Reynolds (four rebounds) also contributed defensively to the run to end the half.

Cornell exploded for 56 points in the final 20 minutes, hitting on 18-of-28 shots (.643) and 8-of-12 from 3-point range (.667). Besides Robinson's second half heroics, Wittman added 13 points and Reeves notched 12.

The Big Red will make it an early night tomorrow when it will make its final leg of the trip to Nice.

Cornell France Tour-- Travel Diary Update




Update from Director of Athletic Communications, Jeremy Hartigan's French Tour Daily Travel Diary:




http://cornellbigred.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/052307aab.html

May 29, 2007

1:43 p.m. (French time) - Arrived in Aix-En-Provence just now and checked into the hotel for a one-night stay before we head into Nice tomorrow for our final days on the French Riviera. A couple of us asked about the possibility of heading into Italy for a short time tomorrow since we'll be 20K (about 12 miles) from the border, but it sounds like that won't be a good idea. Patricia's last team to cross the border lost its passports and had MAJOR problems.

Trips like these can sometimes be a nightmare behind the scenes, and today is a perfect example. Just arrived after a four-hour bus ride (my lord, we have been logging the kilometers on the bus) to find that we are expected to meet with the mayor and have a big celebration prior to the game, then again have dinner after the game. It was not in our plans, meaning we may not have any time to visit the town today for our only day. All of this special treatment is nice, but puts us on a schedule that isn't really conducive to leisure. Not sure how that will work out.

Sounds like assistant coach Nat Graham will be calling the shots tonight. Coach Donahue made the trip after injuring his knee in a pickup hoops game not too long before and it has gotten worse as the trip has gone along. A few of the guys are hoping to see him walk with a cane or at least get crutches before the week is over.

Yesterday was an open day in Lyon, and many of the guys went out on their own. The famed French food is not necessarily all that it was cracked up to be for the players, and the new rescue site has been McDonalds. The old Royale with Cheese (famous from the movie Pulp Fiction) has rescued a couple of guys from losing a high percentage of their body weight. With all the walking, the small food portions and the lack of desire to finish their meals, France would be a sumo wrestler's worst nightmare.

This morning also saw the return of Louis Dale's ATM card, a saga that dragged into day three. On Sunday evening, the players headed out for dinner, and Dale, looking for some Euro's, stopped at an ATM. The machine ate his card and froze up. After running back to the hotel to get a coach (while the remaining players guarded the ATM), it was determined that they would have to wait until Monday to retrieve it. That is, until the realization that Monday was a national holiday in France. The team got a good laugh when they drove by the ATM on Monday and discovered the machine still frozen on the same screen. Not until this morning at 8:30 when the bank opened was Louis able to retrieve his card with the help of Patricia.

That has been the excitement so far from the last two days. More later tonight.

11:56 p.m. - We are on the bus on the way home from topping Sapela Basket 13, probably the most skilled team we've played so far on the trip and the most like an Ivy team. Assistant coach Nat Graham took over as head coach for the contest and led the Big Red back from an 11-point deficit in the first half for the victory. I think he went from being fired in th first quarter to earning a raise in the second half. Of course, it's pretty easy being a coach when you have talented players in uniform (either I made that up or it was a quote from Kelly Graham).

Collin Robinson was unstoppable in the second half, showing a lot of Rucker Park in him with some ankle breaking moves. Ryan Wittman uncharacteristically struggled with his shot but didn't let that affect other aspects of his game, playing a tremendous floor game with six assists and four boards. Maybe the most impressive performances came from the two post players, as Brian Kreefer made shots (17 points), rebounded the ball (eight boards) and defended (holding a talented Joe Williams to 12 points), while Alex Tyler had 11 points and set the physical tone for the game with six of his 10 rebounds in the first period. While I'm mentioning several names, everyone contributed to the victory. A great sign that this trip is really facilitating great team spirit.

It was an excellent atmosphere, with another loud crowd of about 800 fans packed to capacity and providing a hostile environment. Sapela wasn't as physically strong as the other two teams we played, but they were well-coached and very skilled.

It was karaoke night on the bus on the way home, as the team did a round of Alouette Gentille Alouette (the children's song ... you know you know it), followed by Patricia singing another French song. Geoff Reeves and Alex Tyler did "Ice Ice Baby", with Reeves doing the rap spot-on, while Brian Kreefer, Collin Robinson and Khaliq Gant did "My Girl." Robinson then stayed on the mic and did Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," getting the entire bus into the groove. He earned a standing ovation with his performance. Conor Mullen then took over, with Collin as background, and did John Legend's "PDA." It's these kind of moments players remember from the trips, way more than the games on the court and just another reason these trips are so invaluable.