Thursday, January 31, 2008

Live Internet Video Available for Cornell at Brown Game

Live internet video is available for Cornell's Friday night meeting in Providence with Brown University. The cost should be $6 for the single game and may be purchased at this link. For any needed customer support from Brown's video provider, click here.

As an alternative, Cornell fans can listen to just the audio via Cornell's Redcast subscription service.

Big Red Brackets Update

Yestersday, Gary Parrish of CBS Sports released his projected NCAA Tournament field. Parrish picked Cornell as his choice to receive the Ivy League's automatic bid. Parrish notes, "Cornell is the only Ivy League school with at least 10 victories."

Below are links as to how the "bracket experts" are projecting the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Recruiting News: Big Red Look to Get Bigger

















The Big Red appear to have three "big men" on their recruiting radar for next season and it will be interesting to see if Cornell can bring all three on board as new recruits in 2008-2009. Mitchell Watt (pictured left) (6'9" 210 lbs.) is the lone high school senior of the threesome. Cornell has reportedly offered Watt a place in the basketball program and Watt has stated several times that Cornell is at the top of his list. Daniel Brady (pictured middle) (6'8" 220 lbs.) is a JuCo player at North Idaho College and a former transfer from Division I Idaho State (Big Sky Conference). Cornell has also reportedly offered Brady a spot in the Big Red basketball program, but Brady is still weighing his college options. Finally, Cornell is also pursuing Marc Van Burck (pictured right) (6'11" 280 lbs.), a JuCo player at Salt Lake Community College and a former transfer from the University of Colorado (Big 12 Conference). Cornell reportedly offered Van Burck back when he was in high school and it is believed that he is currently holding an offer from Cornell as a transfer.

At the end of this season, Cornell graduates just one player, 6'9" Jason Hartford.

A Scout's Take on the Red

As a special feature to The Cornell Basketball Blog, one of our Ithaca-based contributors, "T.J.", provides us his evaluation and commentary on some of Cornell’s individual performances through the Big Red’s first 15 games this season.

On Ryan Wittman-He is shooting well [from the perimeter] and is now showing the results from his improved body strength by contributing significantly on defense and rebounding… I also noticed that he is now moving nicely off the dribble and [taking on more] mid-range shots, instead of only spotting up from three.

On Louis Dale-When I scouted the Red-White scrimmage, I wrote, “[Louis] Dale and [Collin] Robinson faced off throughout most of the game, and each seemed to be out to prove himself to the other or to [Head Coach] Steve [Donahue].” Under the current circumstance, no longer is Dale competing with Robinson. This is Dale's team now, and I think he has thrived with this added responsibility. Although he has had to be more careful with fouls, he has contributed enormously in his expanded minutes and continues to impress at every game… Ironically, the Big Red had trouble in early games with the press (with both Dale and Robinson on the floor); yet, against Columbia the Big Red (and Dale especially) had no problems getting the ball inbounds and breaking the press. In this case, maybe less is more?

On Adam Gore-After the Red-White scrimmage, I wrote, “[Adam] Gore looked rusty at times. He missed quite a few threes . . . . I wasn't impressed with his movement on offense when he was the shooting guard… [He] seemed to be standing around waiting for someone to throw him the ball too much. . . . He had a brace on his lower leg, but otherwise did not seem to be hampered by last year's injury.” I have discussed Gore at length elsewhere. But he obviously has improved from the scrimmage. He is shooting with confidence, and his "floor game" continues to be among the most impressive on the team.

On Andre Wilkins and Geoff Reeves-So far I've seen little of Wilkins’ superior advertised athleticism in game situations (just one spetacular dunk against NJIT). But he has done an excellent job on defense and maintaining a presence inside. He is making very few mistakes and not overextending himself. Meanwhile, Reeves has been high-flying, but sometimes at the expense of accuracy. I'm still looking for him to put it all together, both inside and out. Since Collin Robinson’s departure, Reeves has been asked to assume more responsibility for ball handling, and has handled the task well.

On Jason Battle-Battle has assumed the back-up point duties lately [along with Gore and Reeves], and has done well. He showed this ability back in the Red-White Scrimmage, and he has only improved as shown in the Columbia series.

On Jason Hartford-I think we haven't seen all that Hartford has to offer yet. In particular, his passing game has been lacking until lately. But in the past few games, Hartford has been looking very strong.

On Jeff Foote-He is probably the biggest surprise from the preseason to the present. Foote showed the defensive and rebounding skills in the Red-White game, but not the offensive success he has been having in his last half dozen games. His stamina continues to be a problem, but his minutes are increasing, and he is showing fewer signs of fatigue as he gets more games under his belt. From the beginning I expected the blocks, altered shots, and tips under the basket, but I had no idea (from the Red-White scrimmage) that Foote has the superb post skills he has displayed in recent games. Likewise his ability to pass from the post and handle the ball was not evident just a few months ago. He obviously is making great strides on almost a daily basis. Who knows how good he is going to become?

While Idle, Cornell's RPI Improves

As of Thursday, January 31, 2008, Cornell's RPI has moved up to No. 89 out of 341 Division I teams, according to KenPom.com. The Big Red moved up two places since Monday evening.

Cornell Basketball in the News

A few references are made to Cornell in an article appearing in today's Columbia Spectator about Princeton's recent struggles. Pictured above, Cornell's Louis Dale drives to the basket last season on January 13, 2007 against the Tigers in Newman Arena at the Fieldhouse. Dale had 14 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds against the Tigers to lead the Big Red to a 55-35 win. Cornell has won five of its last six meetings with Princeton.

Cornell Sun: Big Men Integral

Junior center Jeff Foote (1) looks for the ball from junior teammate Brian Kreefer (34).


By Harrison D. Sanford
The Cornell Daily Sun
January 31, 2008

Going into the men's basketball season, it was the combination of guards that the Red had who garnered all the preseason attention. And rightfully so, as sophomores Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman are coming off stellar freshman campaigns, junior Adam Gore played an integral role in the Red's third-place finish in his freshman year and junior Collin Robinson's previous stint at U.S.C. had Red fans excited about the backcourt play and wondering who was going to do all the dirty work inside.

"They deserve the most attention," said sophomore Jeff Foote. "For the most part they are our best scorers."

"We know that they are great players," said sophomore Alex Tyler. "They are the best three-guard lineup in the league … We knew that as a frontcourt we were really underrated and we didn't take anything away from them."

And while nobody questions the Red's backcourt talent despite the recent departure of Robinson, there are few worries about the frontcourt's prowess as well after this weekend's dominance over John Baumann and the Columbia frontcourt.

"We definitely have one of the deepest frontcourts in the league," Tyler said. "We all bring something different and we all come in with a lot of energy."

The frontcourt's depth was on full display this past weekend as the Red dominated on the boards, winning the rebounding battle 41-27 and holding All-Ivy first team center Baumann to zero field goals in the18-point victory.

"When we played Columbia at home we got out-rebounded and they got a lot of second chance points," Tyler said. "In the second game, we showed that we can go out there and play hard."

It was a vast difference from the weekend before when the Red allowed Baumann to score at will but still managed a tough 70-64 home win. In that contest, Baumann finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds and the Red were out-rebounded 31-21 — something the frontcourt unit was focused on preventing from happening again this past weekend, and something Baumman had to give Cornell credit for.

“They have a great bunch of big guys, they have a great rotation,” Baumman said. “They really did a good job of not letting us get anything easy inside. I think the thing that makes this team good is the quantity of big guys they have to where you can get one of their big guys in foul trouble, and they don’t really seem to lose anything when they bring another one off the bench.”

Indeed, the Red has a good rotation of big men who are capable of scoring, rebounding and playing good interior defense.

"When we put any one of us in the game, its hard for any opposing player to get into any type of rhythm because we are all different," Tyler said.

Tyler and Foote, alongside senior Jason Hartford and junior Brian Kreefer, make up the aforementioned interior rotation for the squad.

"It is one thing that we feel is our strength," Kreefer said. "We can throw any two of us in there they can be starters.”

In fact, each player has seen time as starters and has also shown the ability to score for the Red. Early in the season, Harford led the Red in scoring in two contests. Kreefer scored 21 points against Navy early in the season and has reached double-digits numerous times in his career. Tyler has consistently been a threat for the Red on the interior and the eligibility of Foote has given the Red a new dimension.

“[Foote’s arrival] has helped a lot,” Kreefer said. “You can take more chances on defense because you know that he is back there.”

“Foote has brought in that extra depth,” Tyler said. “With how long he is, he can block shots and he is a presence … he disrupts what a player can do.”

And while Foote’s blocking prowess earned him energized chants from Newman Nation two weekends ago, the Lockwood, N.Y. native insists that he and each one of his teammates are equals.

“Its really not one above the other,” Foote said. “If I am not having a big game, we know we can put somebody else in and have a fresh rotation … A.T. [Alex Tyler] is the big physical guy. He has solid post moves and probably the best defensive post player we have … J. Hart is just so hard to guard … Kreefer is one of the best playmakers and finishers. He has a knack for the ball and is always in the right place at the right time.”

And while players like Wittman, Dale and Gore will garner more attention as the Ivy League season heats up, both sides — the frontcourt and the backcourt — know that they will have to rely on each other for the chance to bring the Red its first conference title since the 1987-1988 season.

Daily Pennsylvanian Previews Cornell



By Rob Gross
Daily Pennsylvanian
January 31, 2008

Cornell is not used to being in this position. In fact, no one is besides Penn and Princeton.

The Big Red (10-5, 2-0 Ivy) were picked to win the Ivy League by media members before the season began, and so far, their play has pretty much lived up to the hype. They cleared their first hurdle to the title by sweeping the two-game series with Columbia.

Steve Donahue's team has been most impressive on offense, where it leads the Ivy League in field goal percentage (.482), three-point percentage (.413) and scoring margin (+5.9). The Big Red have averaged 76.9 points per game - more than six points better than any other Ancient Eight team.

Cornell's success on offense begins and ends with its perimeter play, where coming into the season it boasted arguably the best group of guards in the league. Louis Dale acts as the team's floor general, but he's also a scoring option. The All-Ivy point guard leads the league with just under five assists per game and is second on the team in scoring average, at 13.3.

The group took a big hit when sixth-man Collin Robinson left the team shortly before its first win over Columbia. The University of Southern California transfer had been providing a huge boost off the bench, averaging over ten points and four assists.

Robinson's departure means starting guard Adam Gore may have to pick up some of the scoring slack. The junior has played fairly well after missing almost all of last season with a knee injury, but he has not lived up to the expectations that came with being named the 2006 Ivy Rookie of the year.

The most dangerous offensive weapon is not a guard, though he certainly plays like one. 6-foot-6 forward Ryan Wittman, thanks to a blistering .478 clip from three-point range, leads the team in scoring at 14.3 ppg.

Although the Big Red have looked superior offensively to their Ivy League competitors, don't anoint them champions just yet. They still have serious question marks on defense and in the interior.

Cornell is in the middle of the pack in points allowed and is second to last in rebounding margin at -3.1 per game. No player on the roster averages five rebounds or more.

The Big Red have also yet to establish a legitimate low-post scoring presence, despite the improved play of sophomore forward Alex Tyler.

With a team that depends on perimeter play to win, it is often hit or miss. If their long jumpers aren't going down, the Big Red are beatable. But if Wittman and Dale are dialed in, bringing an Ivy League title back to Ithaca - for just the second time - seems to be a strong possibility.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Whelliston: I'll Take Brown














Kyle Whelliston, founder and editor of MidMajority.com (a website devoted to "mid-major" college basketball, as defined by Whelliston) and a regular column writer for ESPN.com, had the following to say during today's ESPN chat session about Friday's Cornell at Brown game:
Jeff, NYC: Kyle, Predicted outcome score for Cornell at Brown? Are you going to the game?

Kyle Whelliston: (4:16 PM ET ) I'll be there. I don't pick games because I'm wrong so much, it makes gamblers angry. But I like Brown's chances to make the first big statement in the post-P&P Ivy world.
Whelliston is picking Brown to win the Ivy League.

Cornell Basketball in the News



Andrew Scurria of the Daily Pennsylvanian writes, "Adam Gore is back to his old ways, so All aboard the Cornell bandwagon!" (links in original quoted text)

Cornell Basketball in the News

Here are a few of the references to Cornell in the news media today:

Cornell's frontline of Jeff Foote (7'1") and Jason Hartford (6'9") was referred to as "small" in today's Columbia Spectator.

Also, check out the article from the Philadelphia Daily News below:



Dick Jerardi: Folks in Ivy League might be seeing Red this season
STEVE DONAHUE had been in the Ivy League long enough to know he was not accepting a quick-fix job at Cornell in 2000. He felt confident he was ready for his first head-coaching position. After all, he had been to the Herb Magee and Fran Dunphy finishing schools. What he hoped is that he would be given enough time to make Cornell an Ivy contender.

Donahue, who played at Ursinus and was an assistant for some very good Penn and Philadelphia University teams, got the time. Cornell, 10-5 overall, is now a contender, maybe even the Ivy favorite.

"You have visions of what it could be like, and just the satisfaction that you get out of that kind of success would be great," Donahue said. "I'm more excited for our players, our student body and our administration who have been very patient."

The Big Red is the only 2-0 Ivy team as league play gets serious this weekend. Penn and Princeton finally begin. If Cornell can survive the first Ivy weekend, look out. Donahue's team plays at contenders Brown and Yale. A sweep would be great. A split would work, as six of its next eight are at home.

"We're playing well now," Donahue said. "We were averaging, like, 88 points a game and then we ran into teams that aren't going to let you do that. Then I think we just revamped stuff and got back to basics. We've played a lot of road games, and I think we're playing our best basketball."

Princeton is way down. Penn is struggling. For the first time in 20 years, the Ivy door is wide open for another school.

"Princeton is really going through some rebuilding," Donahue said. "I think there are enough pieces there at Penn. This league is not that great . . . Glen [Miller] has been through this enough. They're going to have something to say."

Why not Cornell?

The Big Red has one of the great shooters in America, Ryan Wittman (son of Randy), who shoots 47.8 percent from the arc, eighth nationally. It has a terrific point guard in Louis DaleAdam Gore, the 2006 Ivy rookie of the year, back after missing last season with a knee injury. Dale is the nation's best free-throw shooter (94 percent). Gore is 10th (90.5 percent). It has 7-footer Jeff Foote. Most of the key players on the roster are sophomores. and another scorer in

"This week and this year are huge," Donahue said. "And I feel good about our team for the next several years."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Big Red Brackets Update: Rivals.com Keeps Cornell as a Projected No. 15 Seed

Earlier today Rivals.com released its revised NCAA Tournament brackets forecast, but still projects Cornell as a No. 15 seed. Cornell fans are hoping that Louis Dale, pictured above, will guide the Big Red to its first tournament appearance since 1988.

Below are links as to how the "bracket experts" are projecting the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Cornell at Brown Featured on CollegeHoopsNet

CollegeHoopsNet.com makes reference to Cornell's February 1st game at Brown . CHN writes af follows:

With February right around the corner, the stretch drive is officially here in college basketball. Some conferences are at the mid-point in league play, meaning it’s time for teams to start making moves with an eye towards the NCAA Tournament. This week is filled with important conference clashes that could make the difference between whether a team is “in” or “on the bubble” come March, as well as important contests that will have a huge impact at the top of the league standings. That “Last Ten Games” category on teams’ NCAA Tournament profiles? It starts now...

Cornell at Brown: Although league play in the Ivy is just starting, these two teams look like the potential early favorites. Cornell is 2-0 in the conference, with both wins strangely coming over Columbia. Brown lost to Yale on the road in overtime, before beating them at home.
Get all the information you need about Cornell's roadtrips to Brown (2.1.08) and Yale (2.2.08) with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center. As the Brown/Yale games approach, we will be adding relevant articles and stories. Let us know your thoughts on the upcoming games in New England by either leaving a comment to this post, sending us an email (CornellBigRedFan@gmail.com), or leaving a note on the message board at FanNation.com. Go Big Red!

Recruiting News: Cornell and Penn Pursue JuCo Big Man

Rivals.com is reporting that Cornell and Penn are both recruiting Mark Van Burck. As we previously posted here on The Cornell Basketball Blog, Van Burck is a 6'11" 280 pound sophomore center at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC). Van Burck spent his freshman year at the University of Colorado before transferring and enrolling at SLCC for his sophomore season.

Van Burck was recruited by Cornell and Brown (under former head coach Glen Miller) when Van Burck attended Luther College High School in Saskatchewan, Canada. Van Burck, however, was lured to the limelight of the Big 12 and signed with Colorado instead. When Colorado's head coach Ricardo Patton was replaced by Jeff Bzdelik last year, Van Burck, as well as three others, involuntarily lost their scholarships. Van Burck is now searching for a new Division I home for the 2008-2009 season. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Van Burck averaged 24 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots per game during his senior year of high school and appeared in the Nike All-Canadian Camp and on the U-17 Developmental National Team. With the Colorado Buffs he saw action in nine games, but was injured most of the season with a right foot stress fracture. He did get a taste of Big 12 life, seeing floor time against Missouri (twice), Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech (twice), Kansas State, and Nebraska. In addition to Cornell and Penn, NCAA Division 1 programs from the West Coast Conference (WCC) and Big West Conference have been inquiring into the 6’11” 280-pound center.

Cornell seems like a perfect fit for Van Burck for several reasons. First, Cornell University and the Cornell basketball program have a strong tradition of recruiting transfers. Cornell had four former transfers on the roster at the start of the 2007-2008 season, two of which hail from junior colleges. Cornell basketball also regularly recruits Canadians and Van Burck's small-town background from Saskatchewan seems like a natural fit with a community such as Ithaca. Finally, Cornell offers VanBurck an opportunity to play right away. With Jason Hartford graduating in May, Van Burck would be able to immediately share minutes with Jeff Foote at center for the Big Red.

Apparently Van Burck is leaning towards the Ivies. SLCC's assistant coach, Russell Beck told Rivals.com, "Marc really wants to get an Ivy League education. He is very big and mobile and is a decent passer out of the post." He is currently averaging 2.5 ppg at the JuCo level with SLCC.


Around the Rim with Brian Delaney and The Ithaca Journal

Cornell's Adam Gore dribbles the ball past Columbia's Brett Loscalzo on Jan. 19 at Newman Arena in Ithaca. Gore scored a season-high 17 points in Saturday's 72-54 win and has thrived at Columbia's Levien Gym.
By Brian Delaney
The Ithaca Journal
January 29, 2008

NEW YORK — The last time Adam Gore stepped on the Levien Gym floor, he torched Columbia for 28 points in Cornell's inspired 81-59 victory.

That was an emotional performance by the Big Red, because only four days earlier, then-sophomore Khaliq Gant suffered a serious neck injury and lay recovering in an Arnot Ogden Hospital bed.

The 28 points was a career-high for Gore, who went on to win the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. On Saturday night, playing at Levien for the first time since that 28-point effort, Gore, a junior who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2006-07 opener against Northwestern, was determined to rediscover his old scoring mentality. He did just that, scoring 14 of his game- and season-high 17 points in a first half in which Cornell opened up an insurmountable 18-point lead in a 72-54 win.

Gore's previous season high was 12 points, coming on four different occasions. But at times this year, Gore has played passively on the offense end, which led the Cornell coaching staff to prepare a special film that showed various clips from his stellar performance against Columbia two years ago.

It was a motivational trigger that clearly worked.

“I don't know if it was necessarily the clip as it was what (coach Steve Donahue) was saying,” said Gore, who played 33 minutes Saturday. “Early in the year we had so many guys score that I think I got away from what I was doing my freshman year ... just begin aggressive, knowing that I didn't have to score a ton of points, but ... that I had to be aggressive; let the defense recognize that I can (score) and I think I got away from that a little bit.”

Gore scored the first time he touched the ball Saturday night, driving to his left and knocking down a pull-up. It only got better from there for the 6-foot junior, who proceeded to knock down four free throws and three more field goals, including a clutch 3 late in the first half that helped shut down a mini-Columbia run.

“I thought he was real aggressive from the start,” Donahue said. “We told him, ‘You've got to be a sniper. You can't let teams off the hook.'”

Up next: Huge weekend

Cornell continues Ivy playwith games on Friday at Brown and Saturday at Yale. Along with Cornell, those teams are considered to be the top three contenders for the Ancient Eight title.

Brown and Yale, travel partners, completed their season series on Saturday in Providence, R.I. Brown (9-7, 1-1) earned a split with a 77-68 win, led by Chris Skrelja's 16 points and 15 rebounds, and Damon Huffman's 23 points. The Bears hit 22 of 26 free throws in the second half to ensure the win.

There's little question that this will be the toughest road trip of the league schedule for the Big Red, as part of a 5-of-7 stretch of games away from Newman Arena. With a split, Cornell would leave itself in excellent position for the remaining 10 games, six of which are atNewman.

By the numbers

* Princeton ended a 12-game losing streak Sunday with a 60-46 victory over Division II Dominican.

* After the weekend's games, only two Ivy League men's teams have records of .500 or better on the road - Cornell (4-3) and Brown (5-5). The rest of the league is 8-41 away from their home venues.

* Cornell now has two players shooting 90 percent or better from the foul line: point guard Louis Dale (.940, 47-50), and off-guard Gore (.905, 38-42). Dale has made 31 consecutive free throws.

* Starting with the second half of the Syracuse game on Dec. 22, Cornell has held opponents to just 38 percent shooting while knocking down its own shots at a 48 percent clip.

*****

Daily Pennsylvanian: Where have you gone, Mr. Robinson?








The Daily Pennsylvanian
January 29, 2008

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

As coach Steve Donahue has brought his Cornell squad from worst to first in the Ivy League over eight seasons, he has still not been able to escape his bad luck.

Chris Vandenberg. A.J. Castro. Steve Cobb. Dane Williams. Stevan Marcetic. Gabe Stephenson. And the list goes on.

All their Big Red careers ended by injury, quitting the team or transferring.

Now, Donahue can add another name to his Wall of Shame.

Collin Robinson.

The 6-foot junior guard told the team he was leaving for "personal reasons," and Cornell Athletic Department spokseman stated that he "will not return," as The Ithaca Journal reported on Jan. 18.

Despite coming off the bench this season, he was third on the team in minutes per game (26.9) and points per game (10.6) and second in assists per game (4.4)

This isn't the first time that he's left a program: Robinson was a transfer from the University of Southern California in 200-07.

All in all, he suited up for just 13 games while at Cornell, as he had to redshirt his first season due to NCAA transfer rules.

It was a short - and for Donahue, not all that sweet - stay by Robinson.

Not that it matters… Despite what was likely some initial shock over Robinson's abrupt departure, Cornell had no problem dispatching intra-state rival Columbia over the weekend, 72-54.

The Lions' front-line went an embarrassing 1-16 from the field, as only Ben Nwachukwu hit a shot (1-5 in 10 minutes of action).

But Columbia's poor play was not the only reason behind the Big Red's win. Donahue and his staff also deserve credit for the adjustments they made.

The week before, Cornell had to give its all against the same Lions squad to win 70-64.

In preparation for this past weekend's game, Donahue clearly focused on sealing off the inside. During the first matchup, Columbia's frontcourt duo of John Baumann and Nwachukwu combined to go 11-21 from the field.

Penetration by Lions guards was also limited despite their 9-19 mark from downtown - further compounding the problems on the inside.

So while it is still early in the Ivy season, Cornell's combination of talent and coaching (a rare combination in the Ancient Eight) has clearly cemented it as the frontrunner.

Bear backcourt. In another Ivy replay, the Bears set out last weekend to get revenge over Yale for a 66-63 overtime loss they suffered on Jan. 19.

And they did, with a more decisive 77-68 win in Providence on Saturday.

Brown's guards Damon Huffman and Chris Skrelja combined for 69 points during the team's season series versus the Bulldogs.

They even outdueled the speedy Eric Flato, the trendy pick for Ivy League Player of the Year, in the first meeting.

It will be interesting to see Brown take on Cornell, in a battle of what may be the two strongest and most consistent backcourts in the league.

And when the Bears come to the Palestra, the inexperienced Penn perimeter players may find themselves with their hands full.

Cornell at Brown Thoughts

A few initial thoughts on the upcoming Cornell at Brown game on February 1, 2008:
  • Brown is averaging a home attendance of 1,591, but the Bears had a crowd of 2,403 last Saturday against Yale. Cornell should expect a similar crowd of about 2,000 on Friday night in Providence.
  • Brown's strength on offense is the backcourt. The Big Red's guards will have to play lock down defense on the Bears' perimeter, denying open three-pointer looks and forcing the Bears' guards to put the ball on the floor. Make no mistake, Brown is the best shooting team Cornell has faced all year. Brown has four terrific perimeter shooters in Mark McAndrew (43% on 3-PTs), Damon Huffman (44% on 3-PTs), Peter Sullivan (48% on 3-PTs) and Adrian Williams (40% on 3-PTs).
  • McAndrew (15.5 ppg) and Huffman (16.2 ppg) have taken 46% of Brown's shot attempts this season. Cornell will need to keep the ball out of their hands. They are the only double-figure scorers on the Brown roster.
  • Cornell should consider employing 3/4 court or full court pressure either with a 1-3-1 or even 3-2, not to gain steals, but just enough pressure and disruption to give Brown some problems settling into their motion half-court "Princeton-styled" offense. The Big Red cannot afford cheap reach-in or body contact fouls. The Bears are an excellent free throw shooting team.
  • While defending the perimeter, Louis Dale must keep himself out of foul trouble. The Big Red has struggled bringing the ball up the floor when Dale sits.
  • As we have often stated, Cornell's guards must attack the basket. If Cornell's guards can get into the lane, the plays may force Brown's guards into early foul trouble with holds and reaches.
  • Brown's 6'9" starting center, Mark MacDonald collided with his teammate, Chris Skrelja during Brown's last game against Yale. MacDonald fell facedown and later said he blacked out. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion that could limit his practice time and even keep him out of the game against Cornell.
Get all the information you need about Cornell's roadtrips to Brown (2.1.08) and Yale (2.2.08) with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center. As the Brown/Yale games approach, we will be adding relevant articles and stories to the Game Preview Center. Let us know your thoughts on the upcoming games in New England by either leaving a comment to this post, sending us an email (CornellBigRedFan@gmail.com), or leaving a note on the message board at FanNation.com. Go Big Red!

Big Red Report from CBS Sports and the Sports Xchange


January 29, 2008

Big Red report: Getting inside


After playing less than its best in a 70-64 home win over Columbia on Jan. 19, Cornell coach Steve Donahue said his team would have to do a lot more than just play better in a return trip to Columbia on Jan. 26.His team needed a more complete performance, especially in terms of its mentality and approach to the game. The Big Red did that and more in a 72-54 win at Columbia."I thought we were more focused and right from the start you could tell we were locked in," Donahue said.That focus was at its best on the plays that don't show up in the box score, particularly the loose balls and rebounds."It's the whole game," Donahue said. "I think we have enough talent to win this game, but we can't afford to be outworked. There were a couple of great hustle plays."It will take more than the scoring of Louis Dale, Ryan Wittman and Adam Gore for preseason favorite Cornell to win its first Ivy League title since 1988, the last time a team other than Penn or Princeton won the Ivy.The Big Red (10-5) is off to a strong start with a 2-0 league record but now faces what looks to be two of its most critical challenges on the season with road games at Brown and Yale on Feb. 1-2. Brown and Yale were two of the four teams - along with Columbia - picked in the preseason poll to contend for the Ivy title."I see this as a year where there'll be some blemishes on the championship team," Donahue said. "None of us are substantially better than our opponents. When I was (an assistant) with Penn, we won 48 straight in the Ivy League at one time and 57 out of 59, and then Princeton went on their roll. There was an eight-, nine-year stretch where there was an undefeated team or a one-loss team. I don't see anybody at that level. Everybody thinks that every game, at least on their home court, they can win."

Big Red report: Strategy and personnel

Cornell G Adam Gore was the 2006 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and scored 1.29 points per game as a freshman in 2005-06 and got off to a strong start in 2006-07 with 20 points in the season opener, only to suffer a season-ending knee injury late in the opener. The team he left isn't the team he re-joined this season because PG Louis Dale and F Ryan Wittman played so well as freshmen last season and established themselves as key players for the Big Red. Gore is back in the starting lineup this season and averaging 8.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game on a more talented and balanced team, but his role will have to increase following the loss of Collin Robinson. In Cornell's second game without Robinson, Gore did just that, leading the Big Red with 17 points, including 14 second-half points as Cornell pulled out to a 40-22 halftime lead. "I think it's at a point now where we need him to be so aggressive like he is," Cornell coach Steve Donahue said. "I sat (Gore) down after the guys left and said, 'This is what you are. You have to do it. You have to take a couple of hard ones to get used to it. You have to be a sniper. You can't let teams off the hook.' I think that's what he was doing a couple of times (earlier in the season) where he would catch it and just move the ball. At times that's important. But his teammates need him to be aggressive. And I thought he was really aggressive from the start."

PLAYER ROTATION


Usual Starters - G Louis Dale, G Adam Gore, F Ryan Wittman, F Alex Taylor, F/C Brian Keefer. Key Subs - F/C Jason Hartford, C Jeff Foote, F Andre Wilkins, G/F Jason Battle, G/F Geoff Reeves.

GAME REVIEW
Cornell 64, NJIT 33
Cornell 70, Columbia 64
Cornell 72, Columbia 54


GAME PREVIEW
at Brown, Friday, Feb. 1
at Yale, Saturday, Feb. 2
vs. Princeton, Friday, Feb. 8
vs. Penn, Saturday, Feb. 9


IN FOCUS
Cornell's Louis Dale and Adam Gore match up well with the backcourts of Brown and Yale but the most intriguing challenge of the weekend might be F Ryan Wittman's matchup with Brown's Chris Skrelja, who plays a unique role as a point forward.

ROSTER REPORT
--Dale is building upon a strong freshman season by emerging as one of the Ivy League's best point guards as a sophomore, with 4.9 assists, 13.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 45 percent from the field overall and 40 percent from 3-point range. Dale is at his best at the free-throw line, where he has hit 31 straight attempts and leads Division I with 94 percent shooting (47 of 50).

--Like Dale, Wittman continues to improve as a sophomore, averaging 14.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 46 percent from the floor and 48 percent from 3-point range. He came through with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal in the second game against Columbia, but he also led the Big Red with seven turnovers.

--Yet another sophomore, Alex Tyler, has emerged as a physical presence in the middle for the Big Red with 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, but he's also getting a lot of help off the bench from 7-foot junior C Jeff Foote, a mid-year transfer from St. Bonaventure who did not play until Dec. 19. Through his first nine games, Foote is averaging 7.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while making 60 percent of his shots in 19.0 minutes per game and giving Cornell some much-needed size and depth in the post.

Big Red report: Notes, quotes

--For Cornell to get off to a strong start in Ivy League play, it needed to win on the road against three opponents that received first-place votes in the Ivy League preseason poll. The Big Red, the preseason favorite to win the league title, won 72-54 at Columbia on Jan. 26. Now it must play at Brown and Yale on Feb. 1-2. Cornell is 4-4 on the road this season with wins at Stony Brook, Quinnipiac and NJIT and a hard-fought loss at Duke.

--Cornell entered its Ivy League schedule with a slate ranked 98th in the nation, with road losses at Duke, Syracuse, Bucknell and Ohio this season and a home win over Siena, and enters the final week of January ranked 91st in the RPI (realtimerpi.com).

--Columbia entered the second Cornell game leading the Ivy League in rebounding margin at plus-0.6 per game after outrebounding Cornell 31-21 in the first matchup, but the Big Red outrebounded the Lions 41-27, grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and scored 17 second-chance points. The Big Red got eight from Ryan Wittman, seven from Jason Hartford, six from Alex Tyler and four each from Louis Dale and Jeff Foote. "They killed us on the offensive glass," Columbia senior guard Brett Loscalzo said.

--Columbia's key player is John Baumann, who leads the Lions with 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, came through with 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the first Cornell-Columbia game but Cornell packed its defense in tight and held him to six points - all on free throws - and six rebounds in the second game.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"They have a great bunch of big guys, they have a great rotation. They really did a good job of not letting us get anything easy inside. I think the thing that makes this team good is the quantity of big guys they have to where you can get one of their big guys in foul trouble and they don't really seem to lose anything when they bring another one off the bench. I give all the credit to them in the way that they clogged the middle and didn't let us get anything easy. When we did get some easy shots, we weren't able to capitalize on them." - Columbia senior forward John Baumann, on Cornell.


Recruiting News

Cornell basketball is still reportedly working the phones, making the scouting visits and pursuing high school basketball recruits around the country for the 2008-2009 season and beyond. Here is a bit of news and commentary on the recruiting front...

First a commitment to report, but not for Cornell. Andrew Stein, a bruising 6'8" 235 lb. power forward from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania's Freedom High School gave a verbal commitment to Division III member, New York University. Cornell had reportedly expressed some interest in Stein last year.

Speaking of big fellas, Cornell has two reported "offers" on the table to frontcourt players. We have discussed these offers several times before here on The Cornell Basketball Blog. The first offer was to Mitchell Watt, a still-growing and wiry 6'9" 2oo lb. forward/center from Goodyear, Arizona's Desert Edge High School. While Watt has repeatedly said that "Cornell is his leader", he has inexplicably held off on giving the Big Red a verbal commitment while numerous "high major" programs have made a late push for his services. So... while Cornell waits patiently, schools such as Washington State, Tulsa, and Northwestern are in pursuit. Talk about agonizing! Watt is a tremendous defensive player with a skilled offensive game, and has a lanky body style similar to Detroit Pistons' Tayshaun Prince.

Meanwhile, Cornell also has an offer on the table to former Division I Idaho State transfer and current JuCo baller, Daniel Brady. A 6'8" 220 lb. combo forward by way of Lake Oswego Oregon's Lakeridge High School (a former Kevin Love teammate) and currently at North Idaho College (a junior college), Brady, like Watt, has already visited the Cornell campus, but has yet to pull the trigger. He is holding an offer from Cornell and a scholarship from Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and appears torn in his decisionmaking process. We think he is a comparable player in style to former Cornellian, Ryan Rourke. Think good sized forward with a pretty good ball handle and some perimeter skills.

Now that Collin Robinson has left the Cornell basketball program (without forewarning), Cornell must now yet again look to find more point guard prospects. As a twist of irony, The Cornell Basketball Blog was informed by several sources at the high school level that Cornell was actually turning away some quality point guard prospects during the fall, having felt the program's needs were filled. Now that Robinson has left the team, well... plans have probably changed in Ithaca. One player that has reportedly received some recent attention from Cornell is the mercurial Marcus Lowe, a 5'8" 155 lb. speedster from Anchorage, Alaska Service High School. Unfortunately, Lowe is just a junior and will not graduate until 2009.

Another "point guard" option on the Cornell radar is 6'7" Adam Folker from Markham High School in Ontario. Folker is having an explosive "senior year" in Canada and has drawn recruiting interest from approximately a dozen Division I schools, but has kept Cornell near the top of his list for the last two years. Every college in Canada is reportedly pursuing Folker. Although Folker is 6'7", he does possess point guard like skills, at least when facing the Canadian high school level. We are not sure whether he would translate as a guard at the Division I level.

Another possible point guard option for Cornell could be Andy Moore, a 6'1" 180 lb. Austin, Texas product, currently enrolled at Northfield Mount Hermon School (NMHS) in Mount Hermon, Massachusetts. As we posted here on this site, Cornell reportedly "offered" Moore last February when he was a senior at St. Stephen's School in Austin, but Moore declined the offer to enroll as a postgraduate at NMHS. Moore is reportedly still unsigned and could still possibly be involved with Cornell. Three of Moore's teammates have already committed to Ivy League programs.

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

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

Recruiting News: Chris Wroblewski Nominated for McDonalds All-American Game







Incoming Cornell basketball recruit, 6'1" point guard, Chris Wroblewski from Highland Park High School (Illinois), is among several hundred high school basketball players nominated to the McDonald's All-American Game.

Congratulations to Chris fromThe Cornell Basketball Blog. Looking forward to seeing you in Red next year!

Cornell Basketball in the News

Below, we provide links to a pair of articles with references to Cornell basketball. Pictured above, Cornell's 6'8" sophomore Pete Reynolds in action during the season opener against Lehigh.

Cornell Sun: Trying to Hold Back Emotions in Cameron Indoor Stadium


By Lance Williams
The Cornell Daily Sun
January 29, 2008

Watching a Duke basketball game at Cameron Indoor Arena is just one of those things that every true sports fan should do before they die. Much like watching the antics of Papi and Manny at Fenway, observing the Knicks’ futility at Madison Square Garden or marveling at Brett Favre’s seemingly endless career at Lambeau Field, the excitement and ambiance that accompanies sports’ greatest venues is almost indescribable. No one’s account can really do the experience justice; you just have to see it for yourself.

I was lucky enough to attend the Duke-Cornell basketball game over Winter Break with four of my friends, and there is no doubt in my mind that the experience was worth 16 hours of driving. Although I have already written the formal recap of the game, here is the real story of what transpired in Durham, N.C. on Jan. 6, 2008.

As soon as I walked into the arena just after tipoff, I felt bombarded by noise and heat. Cameron Indoor only houses about 10,000 fans, but, much like Fenway Park, they all seem to be right on top of the court. All I remember thinking was, “Why the hell are there so many people here for a Cornell game?” Despite the fact that Duke University was still not in session and the No. 8 team in the nation was playing an Ivy League squad, there was not an empty seat in the house, and it felt and sounded more like the Super Bowl than a college basketball game. That kind of devotion to collegiate athletics is something I envy and, as I mentioned in a previous column, it is painfully absent here at Cornell.

Getting to the actual game, just eight seconds after tipoff, senior Demarcus Nelson drilled a three-pointer and sent the arena into a frenzy. After taking in the scenery for a few minutes thereafter, an usher showed me to my courtside seat on press row during the first timeout. The score was only 7-6 in favor of the Blue Devils and, even more encouraging, the Cornell starting five seemed to be playing with more confidence than Duke. After all Duke had just come back from a 17-day layoff, and the Cornell players had nothing to lose. I quickly scribbled on my notepad, “Why not us? Why not now?”

Several minutes later, Duke jumped out to a 16-8 lead and center Brian Zoubek threw down an explosive dunk, eliciting “Zouuuu” chants from the Cameron Crazies. Then I remembered the answer to my rhetorical question — because Duke is much more talented. The squad just couldn’t match up with Duke’s athleticism inside. Yet, I knew in the back of my mind I knew that if Cornell turned the game into a shooting contest (with Ryan Wittman and Adam Gore getting hot from deep), the Red would have a shot.

When coach Donahue called his first timeout, the Duke band erupted into a fight song, approximately 20 cheerleaders jumped onto the court and the odd-looking Blue Devil Mascot with an enormous head and questionable facial hair wandered towards press row. For a moment, I felt like tackling “the Blue Devil,” landing a few blows to his oversized head and making that night’s edition of SportsCenter. But I controlled myself; Jeremy Hartigan (Director of Cornell’s Athletic Communications) would be proud.

About five minutes later, the Cameron Crazies (who were literally two feet behind me) really started to bother me. Listen guys, I love your enthusiasm and all but do you have to yell, chant and bounce every play? When Alex Tyler took a huge charge I seized the opportunity to silence them; I jumped out of my seat, turned around and yelled “Sit down.” Granted, it was probably not the best line I could have come up with, but in the heat of battle, it would have to do. Fortunately, I also knew that the Cameron Crazies were not going to retaliate. On TV they look pretty legit, but up close and personal, it seemed like they all got lost on their way to a World of Warcraft convention (no offense Max).

I know that as a member of the media I am obligated to maintain a certain level of objectivity when covering a game, but to tell you the truth, I just wasn’t willing to do that. It was a once in a lifetime experience to sit courtside at a Duke basketball game, and I was determined to make the most of it.

As if on cue, the Cornell players responded to my inappropriate enthusiasm. Jeff Foote (who played an outstanding game by the way) knocked a basket down from the paint while Wittman poured in two treys, highlighting Cornell’s exhilarating 13-4 run to claim its first lead of the game, 24-22. After a Duke field goal, Wittman stroked yet another shot from long range, sending the Cornell bench and cheering section into an absolute frenzy. And yes, me included.

With 6:25 left to play in the first half, Cornell was leading Duke 27-24. It seemed too good to be true. Unfortunately, a rather portly gentleman sitting two seats to my left decided to rain on my parade. “Excuse me son,” he said. “You’re on press row, take it easy.”

Of course my first impulse was to say, “No, I’m good sir,” and if I had a few beers in me, I certainly may have. But once again I decided to restrain myself and respectfully apologized. Instead I took my aggression out on the paper and proceeded to write “Fuck being objective, I’m going all out.”

My spirits were lifted shortly thereafter, however, when I overheard the conversation of two Duke fans behind me. “What’s going on out there,” one asked. “I don’t know man, we’re so off right now,” the other responded. The thought of two Duke fans getting nervous over our basketball team made me smile.

Then our beloved Big Red started to unravel. Several Cornell turnovers followed by quick Duke baskets (including an unbelievable alley-oop from Greg Paulus to Gerald Henderson) bloated the Blue Devil lead to 41-31 with 1.7 seconds left to play in the first half. Foote proceeded to hit one free throw out of two to send his team into halftime trailing 41-32.

Ryan Wittman told me after the game that Duke’s run to end the first half was “where the game was lost.” I couldn’t agree more with him, although the outcome was still in doubt well into the second half.

Duke’s coaching staff looked like a stampede of navy blue suits heading into the tunnel. Coach K led the way while walking at a brisk pace. I’m not going to lie, I was a little star struck. He was followed by former Duke greats such as Steve Wojohowski and Chris Collins as well as several other coaches.

Upon returning to my seat to start the second half, one of the Cameron Crazies (no doubt indentifying me by my bright Red Cornell shirt) yelled, “Go home man, Cornell sucks.”

I smiled, jawed back “Good one,” and mentally prepared myself for the biggest upset in Cornell basketball history. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

Despite five quick Cornell points to start the second half, cutting the Duke lead to four (41-37), the Blue Devils’ talent and to four (41-37), the Blue Devils’ talent and strength began to overwhelm the Red. Freshman sensation Kyle Singler dazzled the crowd with his athleticism while Duke responded with an 11-2 run that increased their lead to a game-high 13 points.

During the run, coach Donahue caught my eye as he instructed his players to pick up the pace and run with the Blue Devils. Now I am no coach, but why would you want to play an up-and-down game with a team that is blatantly more athletic than yours is? Why not just start launching three’s and see what happens? But I digress.

Although Cornell was never completely out of the game until the waning minutes, the team also never managed to pull closer than eight for the remainder of the half. As a result, I want to run through some of Cornell’s second half highlights:

1) Seven-footer Jeff Foote pulling off a behind-the-back pass for an easy layup and a huge slam in back-to-back possessions. I think he was trying to audition for the AND1 Mixtape tour.

2) The Cornell fan section (which was packed and rowdy) taunting the Cameron Crazies after they chanted, “Safety School, Safety School.” I would love to tell you all what some of them said, but we just can’t print it. Use your imagination.

3) Going to the post-game press conference and the Duke locker-room after the game. O.K. this one might not be related to basketball, but for a small-time journalist, it was the thrill of a lifetime. Plus, Coach K is a legend and he had nothing but praise for Cornell’s talent and effort.

Although in the end, the Red didn’t manage to pull it out. It turned out to be one of the most entertaining sporting events that I have ever witnessed. And as someone who has been to the Super Bowl before, that is saying something. Granted, I was forced to leave early, but that is a story for another day. For all of you true college basketball fans, there is no legitimate excuse for not checking out Cameron before you die. And when you finally make it down there, do me a favor, tackle that damn Blue Devil.

Columbia Spectator: Cornell Dominant








Cornell is called "dominant" among Ivy League basketball teams in an article appearing today in the Columbia Spectator. Below is an excerpt from the article. Note: the article incorrectly refers to Cornell's Ryan Wittman as a junior. Wittman is only a sophomore.

By Lucas Shaw
The Columbia Daily Spectator
January 29, 2008

Cornell Head and Shoulders Above, Home Team Wins

In a league—and a sport—where road wins are usually very difficult to come by, Cornell has again established itself as the cream of the Ivy League with its dominating performance at Columbia this past weekend.

Harvard and Dartmouth traded equally uninteresting wins as each team won by a large margin on its home court. The Crimson won by 26 points as the game was never within ten points after the 13-minute mark. Meanwhile, the Big Green cruised from start to finish in its 73-56 win six days later. The home teams trailed for a combined total of 54 seconds in these two games.

While Yale and Brown did not turn in such lopsided results, the home team still ruled. Yale won the first contest, 66-63 in overtime behind 24 points from junior forward Ross Morin. Brown then exacted its revenge at home as senior guard Damon Huffman scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half to lead the Bears to a 77-68 victory.

Showing its strength, Cornell looked even more dominant on the road than at home. Despite playing the team picked to finish fourth in the conference, the Big Red dismantled the Lions at Levien Gym, 72-54. Columbia shot 47 percent from behind the arc and forced guard-heavy Cornell to commit 18 turnovers, but the Lions were still dominated from the start—the Light Blue scored just one point in the game’s first seven minutes.

This, combined with a 70-64 victory in Ithaca, leaves Cornell as the lone Ivy team sitting at 2-0 in league play.

Led by the guard play of sophomore Louis Dale, sophomore Adam Gore, and junior Ryan Wittman, the Big Red leads the conference by six points in scoring and outscores its opponents by over five points per game.