Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Recruiting News: Ivy Verbals Roll In

A pair of Ivy League schools received verbal commitments yesterday. Penn landed 6'6" power forward Larry Loughery from Academy of the New Church in suburban Philadelphia, while Dartmouth secured the services of Jabari Trotter, a 6'1" point guard from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

While Cornell has only two reported verbal commitments, the other seven Ivy League teams each have at least four recruits coming on board next season.

Cornell Daily Sun's Top Sophomores

Louis Dale: As a playmaking point guard leading the league with 4.9 assists per game, Dale showcases his athleticism as the Red’s leading thief (34 total) and a top rebounder and scorer, second on the team in both categories with 13.7 points and 4.4 boards per game. (Photo Cornell Daily Sun)

The Sun Sports Staff Selects the Year's Top 15 Sophomore Athletes

By Allie Perez
The Cornell Daily Sun
April 30, 2008

Each year, the Sun chooses the top athletes from each class. Below are the 15 best sophomores as selected by the members of the Sun's sports department. On Friday, the Sun will reveal its choice for Athlete of the Year.

Louis Dale - Men's Basketball

AP Honorable Mention All-American Dale did many things for the Ivy League champion men’s basketball team this year. The Birmingham, Ala., native was dangerous at the charity stripe, breaking the school record by making 52 consecutive shots from the line and finishing the season ranked seventh in the nation in free-throw shooting (89.7 percent).

Ryan Wittman - Men's Basketball

Continuing his reign as the Red’s scoring leader, Wittman reached double digits in 24 of the team’s 28 games this season. The son of Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Randy Wittman especially excelled from beyond the arc, as he posted a team-high 78 treys with a 45.9 percent success rate. With 171 3-pointers after just two seasons at Cornell, Wittman already ranks fourth on the Red’s all-time list.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Alumni News

The younger brother of Lenny Collins (Cornell Class of '06), Jed Collins was signed today as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles. Older brother Lenny is currently attending Harvard Law School after earning All-Ivy League honors in 2005 and in 2006.

Cornell Basketball in the News

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle mentions that the Ivy League's expanding financial-aid programs could effectively negate the Ivy League's current ban on athletic scholarships as schools such as Harvard, Princeton and even Cornell have increased their aid to middle-income and lower-income families. The article suggests that the Ivy League's increasingly generous financial aid programs could create competition with scholarship-granting schools such as Stanford for the best student-athletes in America.

Recruiting News

According to the Newport News (Virginia) Daily Press, Bethel High School's Bill Weaver has received recruiting calls from Cornell as well as William & Mary, Virginia Military Institute, Saint Peter's and New Hampshire, ever since he decommitted from Brown University several weeks ago. The 6'4" wing reopened his college recruitment after Brown head coach Craig Robinson resigned to take the head coaching job at Oregon State. Weaver already visited William & Mary and is planning a visit to Gardner Webb.

Friday, April 25, 2008

New York Daily News Suggests Donahue Should Move to a Different 'nell

Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News writes:
Retired Bucknell coach Pat Flannery’s legacy will be making that Patriot League program a better job than it is. Just a suggestion, but this might be a good opportunity for Cornell coach Steve Donahue, who won the Ivies, to move on to a scholarship ship since Cornell has not yet adapted grant and aids for families who earn less than $100,000, which could make the Big Red job even more challenging.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Andre Wilkins Sets the Standard for a Canadian Neighborhood

The Cornell Basketball Blog previously posted an article about the rough neighborhood where Andre Wilkins grew up. Wilkins was mentioned recently in an article on about his intent to return to the old neighborhood after he graduates from Cornell. The article states in part:
It may be awhile before youth around Jane and Finch stop talking about their neighbour Andre Wilkins, who is attending an Ivy League university in the United States. Wilkins schooled others on the basketball court while working hard for his A's in class, and that is the stuff of legend in this North York community replete with young, impressionable minds. But for all the promise in this area, there is the painful reality visited on other young sons. "Three of our kids were shot in a three-week time frame," says Olu Jegede, youth pastor at Christian Centre Church on Jane Street... "Most of the young people around here are decent young people," [Superintendent, Roy Pilkington] says. "They just need a chance, that's all." Andre Wilkins, 21, got that chance, and now he's studying at Cornell University on his academic merit. Wilkins had people pulling for him, including Jegede, who was his pastor. Before he moved to Ithaca, N.Y., Wilkins ran the summer camps at Christian Centre Church, and he is said to have his sights set on returning to Jane and Finch after he graduates.

Coach Donahue a Candidate for Stanford?

Cornell Basketball Coach, Steve Donahue was mentioned by Jeff Goodman of as a possible candidate for the Stanford coaching vacancy.

Big Red Basketball Gives Back to Special Olympics

The Ithaca Journal
April 24, 2008

The Red Raiders, the Tompkins County Special Olympics basketball team, pose in front of the Cornell University men's basketball team Wednesday evening, moments after the Red Raiders' first game of their first season at Cornell's Newman Arena. The Red Raiders faced trouble in the past finding the necessary funds for the team and a practice space until Cornell basketball coach Steve Donahue contacted Tompkins County Special Olympics and helped arranged a practice court for the team in Newman Arena. Practices began in March, with three Big Red varsity players assisting and coaching the Red Raiders every week. Further support came from Pritchard Dodge, which donated $10 to Tompkins County Special Olympics for every 3-point shot made by the Big Red basketball squad this past season, resulting in a more than $2,000 contribution. The Red Raiders lost Wednesday's game to the Broome County Royals.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Recruiting News: Mitchell Watt Video Clip

Below is some video clip footage of Mitchell Watt, a prospect that originally committed to Cornell then reopened his recruitment before ultimately signing with the University of Buffalo over reported offers from Rutgers, Davidson and Pepperdine. Consider the clip as a a glimpse of what Cornell almost brought on board next season.

Schedule Update: Stacked Preseason NIT Field

Several sources have reported other rumored participants in the stacked 16 team field. These teams include: New Mexico State, Santa Clara, University of Georgia, James Madison, Loyola-Chicago, Davidson, St. John's, Arizona (regional host), Boston College (regional host), Oklahoma (regional host), and Purdue (regional host), On November 26, 2007, Andy Katz of confirmed several of these participants. Also notable, Georgia is rumored to be headed to the Purdue bracket.

Under the brand new NIT format, the four regional winners advance to New York City and Madison Square Garden for the semifinals, third place game and championship. The 12 teams that do not advance to New York for the semifinals will will be reseeded and assigned to three campus sites for two more games each. Accordingly, participants in the 2008 Preseason NIT are guaranteed four games. In addition, participation in the NIT only counts towards one of the Big Red's Ivy League permitted 28 regular season games, as such Cornell could play 31 regular season games in 2008-2009.

In addition to the NIT opponents, Cornell is already expected to play Syracuse, Indiana, Minnesota and Siena during the 2008-2009 schedule.

To view The Cornell Basketball Blog's prior Schedule Updates, click here.

Big Red Brackets Update

In the April 14, 2008 edition of Joe Lunardi's ESPN Bracketology, Lunardi projects Cornell to repeat as Ivy League champions and return to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 13 seed in the 2008-2009 season.

Recruiting News

The Philadelphia Daily News is reporting that 5’9” point guard, Andrew Rogers of Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia has committed to play basketball at the University of Maine next season. The Daily News reports that Cornell and several non-Division I programs also showed interest. There is no confirmation that Cornell offered Rogers.

The Grand Forks Herald is reporting that Fargo South High School's Jordan Allard, a 6'7" guard who averaged 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists in his senior season and finished as a finalist for Mr. Basketball in North Dakota has narrowed his college choices to new Division I member, University of North Dakota and Cornell. According to the Grand Forks Herald, he is expected to visit Cornell in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Big Red Meet the Public

Below is an article from the Ithaca Times. Pictured above, Cornell's lone graduating senior, Jason Hartford.

By Steve Lawrence
The Ithaca Times
April 16, 2008

I usually feel tall.
Although my drivers' license says I'm 6 feet tall, the pile driver of middle age has pounded me down to about 5'10 or so. But standing next to these guys, I felt shrimpy.
Last week, I got a phone call from Steve Siergk, the owner of Acorn Designs, a fixture at the Ithaca Farmers Market and a big Cornell hoops fan.
"The Cornell basketball teams are coming down to the market to meet the public," Steve told me. "Given that you have hosted the world-famous Rutabaga Curl for us, I was wondering if you would emcee this event?"
You bet, I replied.
Hickey's Music was kind enough to provide a sound system, and Mike Smith of the Ithaca Youth Bureau was resourceful enough to find two strong young men to bring over a big hoop and backboard. Indeed, Anthony and Ryan saw to it that Smith's back lived to see another day.
When the teams arrived, I handed the microphone over to Mayor Peterson, who issued a proclamation on behalf of the city. I then said: "I have been writing about sports in this town for over 20 years, and I consider myself quite knowledgeable. That being said, had someone told me a few years ago that both the men's and women's basketball teams would win the Ivy League titles, both Ivy Players of the Year would wear Cornell uniforms, there would be traffic jams after games, people would try to unload hockey tickets for basketball tickets, and that tall kid who served me pizza in Spencer would evolve into a shot-blocking, monster-jamming, dominant All-Ivy center, I would have suggested that person go to the Ithaca Farmers Market rather than the street corner to buy his mushrooms."
Then, I pulled out a copy of a story I had written in November, in which I pointed out that Bruce Pearl and Pat Summitt, the coaches at Tennessee, were good friends. Steve Donahue, the men's coach at Cornell, has been friends with women's coach Dayna Smith since they were assistants at Penn in the '90s. In that story, Donahue had proclaimed that he would, like Pearl, paint his body to support the women's team "if Dayna wanted me to." At that point I introduced Cami Johnson of Festive Face Painting, who stood at the ready with a big brush and a lot of paint. Imagine Donahue's relief when Smith let him off the hook with a face painting of a Big Red Bear.
The coaches took turns thanking the sizable crowd for their support, and Donahue risked being burned at the stake by saying, "Get rid of those hockey sticks and skates! This is now a basketball town!" The crowd laughed, and gave the coach a break. Hey, he earned it.
The player took turns introducing themselves, and the biggest cheers were reserved for senior Jason Hartford, Ivy Player of the Year Louis Dale, and for Kaliq Gant, who fought back from a paralyzing injury to become the team's inspiration. Kaliq can no longer play, but his presence on the bench this year meant a lot to the team, and put adversity into perspective. As I stated at the event, it was said that Lance Armtrong has (literally) the biggest heart in sports. Sorry, Lance. This time, you're No. 2.
Of course, an event this special needed its own style of games, so we set up the Shoot-A-Baga Challenge (swished by Hartford), the Yam Dunk (nicely executed by Dayna Smith), the rubber chicken Fowl Shot (buried by Donahue) and the Beet the Shot Clock (Kaliq missed, but he was fouled).
Both teams signed a lot of autographs, and it was fun to see Jeff Foote - at a full 7 feet tall - signing for kids who barely reached his waist. Some stayed long after the event, and many of the players conveyed their amazement that they had never been to the market. For some Cornell students, downtown Ithaca ends at Eddy Street, but this group appreciated the expanded horizons.
A big thank you to both teams for making the event so memorable, and to Steve Siergk and the rest of the Market staff who provided cake and a warm welcome.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Video Clip: 2007-2008 Big Red Photo Highlights

From the season tip-off against Lehigh to the near destruction at Bucknell. From the departure of Collin Robinson to the emergence of Jeff Foote. From the mid-winter tests at Syracuse and Duke through the "14 Game Ivy League Tournament" including a narrow escape at Harvard. Then Newman Nation's "storming of the court" celebration. A perfect 14-0 Ivy League season. Finally, the journey culminates with the Big Red's NCAA Tournament First Round defeat against Stanford in Anaheim. The Cornell Basketball Blog presents photo highlights from the Big Red's 2007-2008 season. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dale Named Team MVP At 2008 Basketball Banquet

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Sophomore Louis Dale (Birmingham, Ala.) was named the Big Red's most valuable player for the 2007-08 season when the awards were announced at the Cornell men's basketball banquet on April 12 at the Ithaca Country Club. Senior Jason Hartford (Tillamook, Ore.) was selected as the recipient of the Rebounder's Club Award, while junior Jeff Foote (Lockwood, N.Y.) earned the James D. Paul II Award.

Dale, who was named to the Associated Press honorable mention All-America team as well as Ivy League Player of the Year, ranked second on the team and sixth in the Ivy League in scoring (13.7 ppg.) and led the Ancient Eight in assists (4.9 apg.), good enough for 55th nationally. The sophomore started all 28 games, ranking among the team leaders in rebounding (second, 4.4 rpg.), steals (first, 34) and free-throw percentage (second, .897). The three-time Ivy League Player of the Week also ranked among the Ivy leaders in field goal percentage (seventh, .446) and assist/turnover ratio (second, 1.59). In league play, Dale was even better, posting averages of 14.4 ppg., 5.0 apg. and 4.6 rpg. The Birmingham, Ala. native led the nation in free-throw percentage for much of the year (finished seventh in Division I) and made a school record 52 consecutive shots from the charity stripe. His 12-of-12 effort at Bucknell tied the school record for most free throws in a game without a miss and also tied a single-game high in Division I.

The 5-11 guard scored in double figures in 22 games and led the team in scoring in eight contests and was the leader in assists 16 times. He tied his career scoring high with 24 points in both wins over three-time defending league champion Penn and notched a career-best 10 assists in the season-opening win over Lehigh. His 22-point, 11-rebound, six-assist effort in a win over Dartmouth helped Cornell clinch at least a share of the Ivy title. Against NCAA qualifier and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Siena, Dale had a dominant 20-point, nine-rebound, six-assist effort in a win. He ranked sixth on the school's single-season assist list (138).

Hartford earned the Rebounder's Club Award in a vote of his teammates to recognize his hard work and leadership. Despite an injury-riddled career for the Big Red, Hartford was a key contributor on and off the court as a fifth-year senior. The 6-9 forward averaged 7.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while starting 21 of the 27 games in which he played. Hartford shot 56 percent from the floor and led Cornell to a 17-4 record when he started. Hartford had a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double in the win over Yale and averaged 18.5 points in opening the season against Lehigh and Ohio, pacing the team in scoring in both contests. Hartford scored 15 points and had eight rebounds to help the Big Red close out an undefeated conference season at Princeton. For the year, Hartford hit for double figures in six contests.

Foote earned the James D. Paul II '88 Award as the top contributor off the bench for the Big Red. The award is named for the late James Paul, who lettered two seasons on the court and was known for his dunking ability. The second-team All-Ivy selection emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the post this season after not playing basketball in two and a half years. The 7-0 center ended the season averaging 7.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game while playing in 22 games off the bench. He shot 55 percent from the floor in 21.5 minutes per game. Foote ranked fourth in the Ivy League in rebounding and second in blocked shots overall and was third in defensive rebounding (4.67) and fifth in offensive rebounding (1.71). He ended the season with 11 double figure scoring and four double figure rebounding games to go along with four double-doubles. He paced the team in rebounding in half of his 21 contests. The junior had a career-best 18 points in a win over Princeton and notched double-doubles in Ivy play against Yale, Penn and Dartmouth. Foote opened his career in fine fashion, posting 10 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two steals in a loss at Bucknell.

Cornell closes its season after setting school records for wins (22) and conseuctive wins (16), while also establishing marks for season points and 3-pointers made, as well as free-throw percentage. Cornell became the 13th team in conference history to finish with a perfect league slate (14-0) and is the first non-Penn or Princeton team to accomplish that feat. The Big Red will return four of its five starters and all four All-Ivy League selections into the 2008-09 campaign when it will attempt to defend its Ancient Eight title.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Recruiting News: Will Cornell Contact Bill Weaver?

Bill Weaver of Hampton, Virginia decided to re-open his college recruitment after Brown University coach Craig Robinson stepped down to take the coaching job at Oregon State. Cornell recruited Weaver before he originally committed to Brown. But will Cornell call again?

By Jason Jordan and Norm Wood
April 13, 2008

Well, it didn't take long for Bethel's Bill Weaver to get his recruitment back in full swing — then again, we knew it wouldn't take long.

On Wednesday, we reported that Weaver decided to re-open his recruitment after Brown University coach Craig Robinson stepped down to take the coaching job at Oregon State.

Bethel coach Craig Brehon told us Weaver will be visiting William & Mary on Monday, and will also visit Virginia Military Institute next week. Norfolk State has also contacted Brehon about Weaver, and Holy Cross could be showing interest soon as well.

Other schools that could make a push for the 6-foot-5 forward are Lehigh, Hampton, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Furman and Cornell. All were interested in Weaver before he committed to Brown.

But while he was down in Miami for spring break, Weaver met with Canes' assistant Toby Lane about his recruitment.

Who better to make the sales pitch than Weaver himself?

Weaver said they chatted about him walking on at Miami and getting playing time.

He's also planning to run next weekend with G.E.S.U.S. Ball AAU team in a tournament in Pittsburgh. He told us that he wants to go "mid major or high major" level, but we didn't get the impression that he wouldn't hear what others had to say.

Bottom line is that whoever snags Weaver should send Robinson a thank you letter. Weaver is the ultimate complement player and, given a free-flowing, up-and-down system, has the ability to make game-changing plays with his athletic ability.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Recruiting News: Brown Recruits Keep Their Pledge

A confidential source close to the situation has informed The Cornell Basketball Blog that Brown's three remaining freshman basketball recruits- Marques Coleman, Noel Hollingsworth, and Stefan Kaluz, each intend on keeping their verbal commitments to attend Brown University next fall. Another recruit, Jean Harris is a transfer student. The fourth freshman recruit from the incoming class, Bill Weaver, a 6'4" forward from Bethel High School near Hampton, Virginia, backed out of his commitment to Brown University following head coach Craig Robinson's recent departure to become head coach at Oregon State. Weaver has reopened his recruitment.

Each of Brown's four recruits reportedly received at least some level of recruitment attention from Cornell prior to their commitments to attend Brown. The Big Red coaching staff might have been interested in each of these players this spring had they reopened their recruitment, especially following Cornell's unexpected mid-season loss of sophomore point guard Collin Robinson and the graduation of low post player, Jason Hartford.

There is no confirmation that Cornell is now pursuing Bill Weaver.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cornell Finishes 2007-2008 Ranked No. 18 in Mid-Major Top 25 Poll

In the Final Edition of the Mid Major Top 25 Poll, published April 9, 2008, Cornell finsihed the 2007-2008 season with a No. 18 national ranking among mid-majors. According to, this is the first season Cornell has ever been ranked in the Mid Major Top 25 Poll.

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

VOTING PANEL: Mike Adras (Northern Arizona), Randy Bennett (St. Mary's), Will Brown (Albany), Dave Calloway (Monmouth), Kermit Davis (Middle Tennessee), James Fox (Davidson), Steve Hawkins (Western Michigan), Billy Kennedy (Murray State), Tod Kowalczyk (UW-Green Bay), Jim Larranaga (George Mason), Jim Les (Bradley), Mike Lonergan (Vermont), Bart Lundy (High Point), Bob Marlin (Sam Houston State), Gregg Marshall (Wichita State), Tom Moore (Quinnipiac), Jimmy Patsos (Loyola MD), Tom Pecora (Hofstra), Vann Pettaway (Alabama A&M), Charles Ramsey (Eastern Michigan), Craig Robinson (Brown), Sam Scuilli (Santa Clara), John Shulman (Chattanooga), Mark Slonaker (Mercer), Brad Stevens (Butler), Gary Stewart (UC Davis), Scott Sutton (Oral Roberts), Bob Thomason (Pacific), Rex Walters (Florida Atlantic), James Wilhelmi (Howard), Ralph Willard (Holy Cross).

To see our stories on prior editions of the Mid Major Top 25 Poll, see the links below.

Recruiting News

As reported yesterday on The Cornell Basketball Blog, Bill Weaver (pictured above), an athletic 6'4" forward from Bethel H.S. near Hampton, Virginia backed out of his verbal commitment to attend Brown University. explained that Weaver did not need permission to opt out of Brown because he did not sign a letter-of-intent as Ivy League schools do not require one. also reports that Loyola (Md.), Furman, Campbell, Elon, St. Bonaventure and VMI all offered Weaver scholarships before he committed to Brown back in December 2007. In addition, Cornell, Penn, NJIT, Lehigh, Hampton, and Winston Salem State also showed varying levels of interest. His mother, Cassandra Weaver noted, "He won't have a lot of time to make up his mind [on a new college choice]."

In other recruiting news, Julian Jones, a 6'8" JuCo prospect from Lake County College in Illinois reportedly used one of his five official college visits on Weber State last month. He is also considering Cornell.

Finally, the recruiting list for Markahm, Ontario's Adam Folker is widening. The 6'8" athletic and multidimensional forward is reportedly receiving serious recruitment interest from Cornell, University of Mississippi, Syracuse, University of Nevada, the University of California-Irvine, Stony Brook, St. Bonaventure, Youngstown State, and Pepperdine. Folker reminds us of a slightly more athletic versian of Ryan Rourke (Cornell '06).

Cornell Basketball in the News

Below are some references to Cornell Basketball in the news today. Pictured above, Cornell's rising junior, Geoff Reeves in action against Stanford during the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

By Michael Mix
Cornell Daily Sun
April 10, 2008

...a friend and I recently discussed our picks for the best Cornell games during our four years in Ithaca. Of course, I had to put my choices in list form.


No. 3 – Stanford 77 Men’s Basketball 53 – March 20, 2008

Yes, I know that Cornell lost to Stanford and those Little Mermaid-loving Lopez twins. But this game blows out all the others in criteria No. 2 and No. 3. If you were a Cornell student, you knew about this game and probably watched it, even though it started at 5 p.m., which meant it was not on television in most markets. Luckily, CBS has a great service in which viewers could watch all the games on the Internet (sending the economy spiraling downward even more). Therefore, everybody still got to hear the great Jay Bilas describe how he broke down a ridiculous amount of tape of the Red. Despite the loss, everyone can now say that they rooted for their school in the NCAA tournament. Cornell should be back next year, while the Lopez brothers can use their NBA salaries to buy copious amounts of Beauty and the Beast DVDs.


By Jonathan Tayler
Columbia Daily Spectator
April 10, 2008

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

On Monday, Brown University Athletics announced a surprising change in their men’s basketball program. Craig Robinson, head coach of the Bears for the last two seasons, was stepping down in order to take the vacant head coaching position at Oregon State.

What makes the move so unexpected is that Robinson made the move after one of the most successful seasons in Brown’s history, with the Bears rolling off an 11-3 mark in Ivy League play, the second-best record all-time at Brown.

To be fair, Robinson would have faced a difficult task had he stayed in Providence for 2009. The Bears are losing their top three players from this season—Damon Huffman, Mark McAndrew, and Mark MacDonald—to graduation. A run at the top of the conference would have meant an uphill battle against a dominant Cornell team that is returning all of its key players from this year’s title, as well as a fight against a resurgent Penn team loaded with young talent. Brown may have been this year’s big surprise in the Ancient Eight, but repeating that success would have been a tall order to follow.

It also can’t be overstated how much of a career jump this is for Robinson. Oregon State may have gone winless in Pac-10 play last season, but you don’t need me to tell you that the Pac-10 itself is worlds away from the Ivy League in terms of competition, national exposure, and opportunity for success. For what it’s worth, Oregon State seems pretty excited about bringing Robinson on board. The OSU Web site has a big banner welcoming the former Ivy League Player of the Year and even has an option allowing you to send him a personalized welcome of your own. No word on whether or not Steve Donahue or Glen Miller have taken advantage of the opportunity.

Nonetheless, Robinson is following a path of established success on a bigger stage for former Ivy League coaches. Last year saw Joe Scott grow weary of Princeton and leave New Jersey for the University of Denver. In their first season under Scott, the Pioneers went 11-19 and 7-11 in the Sun Belt conference, a huge improvement over 2006’s 4-25 overall record and 3-15 mark in league play. The former Dean of Ivy League coaches, Fran Dunphy, left arguably the best job in the conference with Penn to go across town to Temple. In his first year, the Owls finished second in the Atlantic-10 conference. Last year, they won the A-10 title and earned an NCAA Tournament berth.

And then of course, there’s Armond Hill. Back in 2003, Hill was fired as Columbia’s head coach after a horrendous 2-25 season, including a winless Ivy campaign, making it the worst season in Columbia basketball history. Hill rebounded quickly, though, joining the Atlanta Hawks as an assistant coach for the 2003-2004 season, and the year after that, teaming up with Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics. Hill is still an assistant with the Celtics, who on Tuesday won their 62nd game of the season and are the favorites to win the NBA Championship.

It’s more than possible for Ivy coaches to go on to bigger and better things, as Dunphy and Hill have proven. Even Glen Miller, the man Robinson replaced at Brown, jumped up in the Ivy rankings to Penn, where he has a chance to contend in 2009. That doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t a disappointment to see a superb coaching talent like Robinson get snatched away by an established program. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of college basketball—once the best establish themselves, it’ll be just a short time before they’re gone.

We see this happen all the time in the NCAA with both players and coaches. High school superstars join the top college programs, wow the fans for a year, and then pick up stakes and try to make their way in the NBA. If anything, college basketball is a nonstop rebuilding game. One year, Florida crushes teams left and right en route to the national championship. The next year, minus Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Corey Brewer, the Gators fall flat against the University of Massachusetts in the NIT semifinals. Even Kansas, after pulling off a miracle championship win over Memphis this year, is left wondering if head coach Bill Self is going to take the money and run to Oklahoma State, much like Roy Williams did to the Jayhawks in 2003 when he left for UNC.

These situations don’t really exist in the Ivy League. Players don’t leave their programs after one year with visions of NBA millions in their eyes, and coaches aren’t constantly mulling over offers from top schools year after year. But Robinson’s sudden departure confirms something that every Ivy League fan already knows—when you’re in a small conference, it’s hard to keep a top talent from moving on.

The Providence Journal’s Bill Reynolds, in a quote to the Oregon State Web site, put it best. “Robinson is a star on the rise, and he’s simply too good and Brown basketball is too small to keep him. That’s just the way it is.” It’s a shame that has to be the truth.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Recruiting News: Former Cornell Prospect, Brown Recruit Backs Out of Commitment

Bill Weaver, an athletic 6'4" small forward out of Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia has backed out of his verbal commitment to attend Brown University. Cornell showed interest in Weaver earlier in his recruitment. See the story below by the Daily Press.
April 9, 2008

On Wednesday, Bethel High forward Bill Weaver decided to reopen his recruitment after Brown University men’s basketball coach Craig Robinson stepped down as head coach of the Bears to take the head coaching job at Oregon State.

Weaver said that since Ivy League schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, he was left to pay whatever financial aide didn’t cover, which was more than half, he said.

Brown is still searching for Robinson’s replacement.

“I know the education there is one of the best in the country, but I was also going there to play ball,” he said. “My family and I were going to make the financial sacrifice for coach Rob, but not for a staff that I don’t know.”

Initially, Weaver was waiting to see if Bears assistant Douglas Stewart would land the job, but was informed by a Brown player that Stewart followed Robinson, Weaver said.

“They talked to me about coming to Oregon State, but then they told me only about two seniors were graduating,” Weaver said.

Lehigh, Hampton, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Furman and Cornell had all shown interest in Weaver before he committed to Brown. Weaver said that he hasn’t been in contact with any of the schools lately.

For now, Weaver will hit the AAU scene with G.E.S.U.S. Ball at a tournament in Pittsburgh on April 18 and hope other colleges will still be interested in him.

“That’s all I can do at this point,” he said. “I’m gonna try and set some visits up as schools start to show interest.”

Weaver averaged 12 points and six rebounds per game this season for the Bruins and helped them to their most victories in the school’s history (30-2) and a runner-up finish in the Group AAA state tournament.

Schedule Update

As previsouly reported on The Cornell Basketball Blog, the Big Red are rumored to particpate next season in the 2008 Preseason NIT (offically named, the Dick's Sporting Goods Season Tip-Off).

Several online sources have revealed other rumored participants in the 16 team field. In addition to Cornell, the gossip from various online message boards and websites have reported other teams competing in the field to include: James Madison, Loyola-Chicago, Davidson, Arizona (host site), Boston College (host site), Oklahoma (host site), Purdue (host site), and St. John's. On November 26, 2007, Andy Katz of confirmed several of these participants.

Under the new 2008 Preseason NIT format, Cornell is guaranteed four games in the tournament.

In addition to the NIT opponents, Cornell is already expected to play Syracuse, Indiana, Minnesota and Siena during the 2008-2009 schedule.

To view The Cornell Basketball Blog's prior Schedule Updates, click here.

Big Red Roster Report

Cornell graduates just one senior, Jason Hartford, this upcoming May. Excluding the injured Khaliq Gant, the Big Red return 14 veterans to the roster for the 2008-2009 season. In addition, Cornell is expected to add at least two new recruits in Chris Wroblewski and Alex Hill, bringing the Big Red's active roster total to at least 16 players.

The 2008-2009 Big Red will still be a very young as Cornell has just three seniors in Jason Battle, Brian Kreefer and Conor Mullen, each of which are reserves. The balance of the roster, including all five starters, will each maintain at last an additional year of eligibility beyond 2008-2009.

Cornell's attrition and retention statistics have been outstanding the last few seasons. The only recruited player to the Cornell Basketball program to leave the team prematurely from the graduating classes of ’09. ’10, and ’11 (the rising sophomores, juniors and seniors) is Rob Burris. He remains enrolled at Cornell and is on the staff of the Cornell Daily Sun.

Notably, two members of the '08 class left the Cornell program to transfer and will be playing Division I next season elsewhere as 5th year seniors. First, Will Scott is playing his final season of college basketball with the Louisville Cardinals, while Shawn Oliverson will play his final three years of eligibility at Louisiana Tech. The 6'11" Oliverson left Cornell after returning from a Mormon/Latter Day Saints mission.

Season Preview: CHN Picks Cornell for 2008-2009 ("CHN") has already projected Cornell as the Ivy League Champion for the 2008-2009 season. Here is a look at CHN's early picks for the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Recruiting News

Pictured above, Cornell Basketball fans show their support at the NCAA Tournament in Anaheim for Cornell's first round game against Stanford.

Just a small dosage of Cornell Basketball recruiting news...

Jim Thomas of the All Ontario Recruiting Service reports that Markham, Ontario's 6'7" Adam Folker will be playing in the U.S. next year. Thomas reports that the University of Mississippi, University of Nevada, the University of California-Irvine and Pepperdine have all shown interest. Thomas, as well as the Toronto Star, previsouly published that Cornell was also involved in Folker's recruitment.

Meanwhile, incoming Cornell basketball recruit, 6'1" point guard, Chris Wroblewski from Highland Park High School in Highland Park, Illinois recorded 3 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in the Chicago High School Classic on April 4. Harvard recruit, Peter Boehm had 9 points and 5 rebounds in the game.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

News and Notes: Around the Ivy League

On Monday, Oregon State University hired Brown's head basketball coach, Craig Robinson. The last time Brown lost a head coach was two years ago when Glen Miller left the Providence campus for Penn. As a result of the transition, the Bears lost several new recruits and veteran players, at least one of which considered transferring to Cornell following the coaching change. Craig Robinson's sudden departure this week may cause a similar ripple effect.

April 7, 2008
CORVALLIS, Ore. (Associated Press)—Craig Robinson, who coached the past two seasons at Brown and gained attention as Barack Obama’s brother-in-law, was selected Monday as the new men’s basketball coach at Oregon State.

The Beavers went 6-25 this season, becoming the first team to go winless in the Pac-10’s regular season since the league expanded from eight teams in 1978. Oregon State has had one winning season since 1990. The Beavers fired coach Jay John on Jan. 21, and assistant Kevin Mouton was interim coach the rest of the season.

Robinson was 30-28 in two seasons at Brown. The Bears went 19-10 this season and finished second to Cornell in the Ivy League.

Robinson was an assistant at Northwestern for six seasons under Bill Carmody before taking over at Brown. He is the brother of Michelle Obama, wife of the Democratic presidential contender.

Robinson played at Princeton from 1980-83, twice helping the Tigers to an NCAA tournament berth.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Cornell Basketball on

The folks at have set up a Cornell basketball video page. Video clips like the one below from Cornell's 2008 NCAA Tournament appearance are available for viewing.

Spotlight on: Conor Mullen

Conor Mullen is a 6'6" rising senior with Big Red. After seeing limited minutes as a freshman, Mullen gained an increased role in the Cornell rotation as a sophomore during '06-'07, appearing in 19 games off the bench for an average of 12.6 minutes per game, while contributing 2.9 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. But Mullen's role would not increase the following year. As a junior during '07-'08, Mullen found himself on an Ivy League Championship roster stacked with talent, especially in the backcourt and on the wings where Mullen mostly plays. As a result, Mullen's minutes declined as he only saw action in 13 games, averaging 1.9 minutes per game, while chipping in 1.3 points and 0.5 rebounds.

Strong enough to play either forward position with the skill set of a guard, Mullen does have an opportunity to contribute significantly as the Big Red's primary reserve power forward during 2008-2009 due to the graduation of Jason Hartford. The competition for that role will be fierce as Pete Reynolds (6'8"), Aaron Osgood (6'9"), Brian Kreefer (6'7"), Andre Wilkins (6'5"), Adam Wire (6'6"), Jon Jaques (6'7"), and Jason Battle (6'4") will also be in the mix for the job. Nevertheless, even if Mullen does not find himself in the rotation next season, his senior leadership is needed and valued in practices on the scout team and in the locker room.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Recruiting News

Incoming Cornell basketball recruit, 6'1" point guard, Chris Wroblewski (pictured above) from Highland Park High School in Highland Park, Illinois averaged 17.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game this season and was named Conference Player of the Year of the Central Suburban League North. Last night, on April 4, Wroblewski participated in the three-point shootout contest and was a member of the North All-Star team at the Chicago High School Classic boy’s basketball senior All-Star game. The game featured more than twenty Division I basketball signees.

A season for the ages for CU basketball

Fans storm the court to celebrate with the Cornell men's basketball team after it clinched its first Ivy League title since 1988 on March 1. The Big Red women's team also won an Ivy League crown in a year that won't soon be forgotten by either program.

A season for the ages for CU basketball

By Brian Delaney
The Ithaca Journal
April 5, 2008

ITHACA — The end came and went swiftly as it so often does, with a lopsided loss to a major conference opponent in front of a nationally televised audience.

The spotlight was brief, but Cornell was there. In duplicate.

What a mind-blowing season.

Since 1971, the first year Cornell sponsored both men and women varsity basketball, nothing came close to matching what transpired this year. One team, the men, loaded with underclassmen and preseason hype, lived up to every inch of its billing. The other, the women, considered close but not quite championship material in October, surprised everyone by leapfrogging a stacked defending champion whose hopes of a repeat fell two games short.

Both set program records for wins in a season and in the Ivy League.

Who would have ever mistaken Ithaca for a basketball town?

In February and March, it gave an exceedingly good impersonation.

“This has been a very, very special season,” said women's coach Dayna Smith, immediately after her team's Ivy League championship season ended with a 42-point loss to Connecticut on March 23. “It's been years building.”

Countless ones, at that.

The climax came on March 1.

On that memorable Saturday night, jam-packed Newman Arena rattled and shook like a suspension bridge. So did Harvard. One 86-53 blowout later, and Steve Donahue's crew was cutting down the nets in a chaotic scene that three years ago was unimaginable.

Now, both coaching staffs will travel to their respective Final Fours this weekend — the events also serve as the NCAA basketball coaches convention — as card-carrying members of an unofficially elite group where championships are the only means of admission.

And both have already started thinking about next year's possibilities.

For Donahue, who returns everyone but starting senior forward Jason Hartford, the focus is two-fold: get better individually, and beef up the schedule. The eighth-year coach wouldn't go into detail about the latter, only saying that next year's slate should be “really challenging.”

His team's 22-6 season ended in a 77-53 loss to Stanford in the NCAA tournament.

“From an individual standpoint you can't allow yourself to be complacent once you achieve something that you haven't achieved for a long time,” said Donahue, referring to the program's first Ivy League title since 1988. “In reality (the Stanford loss) is probably a positive. That's just the reality of when you get your butts handed to you. That's something that motivates you to get better and get back to that stage and redeem yourself.”

Smith will lose three dependable seniors, including starters Gretchen Gregg and Moina Snyder. But like Donahue with point guard Louis Dale, Smith will return the Ivy League Player of the Year in junior forward Jeomi Maduka.

Sophomore point guard Lauren Benson enjoyed a breakout season, and a slew of underclassmen filled roles perfectly as the Big Red secured its first 20-win season in program history.

As far as scripts go, it was almost sensationalistic in nature.

But somehow, these two teams made it real.

“We had a great season,” said Dale, “something to be proud of. We're going to try and get better each and every day in the offseason. And hopefully we can improve our season next year.”

A repeat?

It's no longer such a mind-blowing thought.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Recruiting News: Buffalo Gets Watt, Cornell Gets Pete Reynolds

There is some irony in 6'9" Mitchell Watt's recent commitment to the University of Buffalo over Cornell. Just two years ago, Cornell successfully recruited Pete Reynolds out of Blair, Nebraska over a reported offer from that same Buffalo program. Now that Watt has decided to spend his college career in Buffalo, it is 6'8" Reynolds who is Cornell's leading candidate to earn the role as Cornell's primary reserve power forward, a job some believed would have been filled by Watt had he joined the Big Red. Here is an archived article on Reynolds' commitment to Cornell.

By Jack Denker
Washington County Pilot-Tribune & Enterprise
October 28, 2005

Pete Reynolds, one of the top Class B basketball players in the state, said last Wednesday that he has orally committed to Cornell University.

Reynolds, who will study civil engineering at the prestigious Ivy League institution, will also become the first Blair graduate to play college basketball at a Division I school.

"Playing basketball at college will be an added bonus," Reynolds said. "The atmosphere, the quality of the schooling, and Cornell's reputation are what convinced me to go there."

The 6-foot-8 senior post player chose Cornell over several local and out of state schools offering scholarships.

That list included the University of Buffalo, North Dakota and Wayne State.

"I looked at some in- state schools," Reynolds said, but, ultimately, I feel like I've found a place that fits me well."

Reynolds, a four-year letter winner and three-year starter, averaged almost 15 points and eight rebounds last season for the Bears.

The All-Eastern Midlands Conference selection assisted the 2004 Blair basketball team to the Class B state tournament.

He has played the past four years for the High Five AAU team where he competed in an average of 10 national tourneys a year.

"That was the most important part of the recruiting process for me," Reynolds said. "All the coaches that I've talked to saw me play in the summer. My AAU team gave me a lot of exposure."

Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, is rated as the 11th best University in the world, according to The Economist magazine. It is also rated as one of the Top 5 Engineering schools in the United States.

After scoring a 29 on his ACT's, Reynolds said he was highly recruited by some of the top research institutions in the country, including the University of Chicago, the University of Washington at St. Louis and Case Western Reserve.

"I am only going to play basketball for four more years," Reynolds said. "I wanted to make sure I went to a very good school with a great reputation."

Recruiting News: Cornell "Dropped Its Interest" in Watt

According to, Mitchell Watt committed to the University of Buffalo after originally committing to Cornell because the Big Red "dropped their interest" in Watt.

Watt Verbals to Mid-American School

By Anthony Ray
April 3, 2008

One of the state of Arizona's top unsigned senior prospects is noiw officially off the recruiting board, as Desert Edge High School's 6-foot-9, 210-pound senior post player Mitchell Watt has decided to give a verbal pledge to a school from the Mid-American Conference.

After taking an official visit to the school recently, Watt made up his mind, deciding to not take any more official visits, as today Watt gave a verbal pledge to the University of Buffalo and Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon.

Watt chose Buffalo over official offers from Pepperdine and, most recently, Rutgers University. Watt decided not to take an official visit to either school after making up his mind with Buffalo. Watt also previously had given serious interest into attending Cornell University next fall, but when the school dropped their interest in the talented post prospect, Watt decided to open up his college recruitment.

This past season, Watt anchored the middle for Desert Edge High School, as he led the team to an amazing 28-2 overall record and the 4A Division-II State Championship. On the season, Watt averaged 11.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per/game.

Watt's upside as a player is tremendous, as he is 6-9 in heigth and still growing. He has a long wingspan as a player and also a long, rangy body to go with it. He is also a versatile player that is capable of playing with his back to the basket or from the perimeter, which suggests that he will become a face-up four man at the collegiate level of play. Still rather thin physically though, Watt is beginning to grow into his large frame, as he has put on some weight since last season.

Watt is also an excellent student and carries a 3.89 CUM GPA.

Arizona Preps Scouting Report: Watt's best years are definitely ahead of him, as he is just now beginning to grow into his long, thin physical frame. While he is definitely a low-post prospect for the collegiate level, he really likes to float to the perimeter as well, where he is very capable of shooting the basketball with range. A left hander as well, Watt is very skilled around the basket, and should grow to become a face-up four man at the division-I level. He is also a very good shotblocker with good timing, although his defensive intensity still needs work for him to truely reach his full potential on the basketball court. As a result of his length, he is a solid rebounder and good on the glass on both ends of the floor.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Recruiting News: Mitchell Watt Commits to University of Buffalo

By Richard Obert
April 2, 2008

Goodyear Desert Edge big man Mitchell Watt has decided on Buffalo to play college basketball after visiting the school and being wowed by its resort management program, which is rated among the nation's best. Watt, who is 6-foot-9, is a high academic kid with great character.

"They can line him up where he can get a degree higher than a bachelor's," Desert Edge coach Joe Babinski said. "He can get a Masters and a doctorate's. They really hit him in the academic part."

Watt came on strong during the season, especially on the defensive end with his ability to block shots and go out on the floor and cover smaller guys.

He had only an offer from Cornell, before more came in after an impressive Final Four that was witnessed by recently hired Pepperdine assistant Damin Lopez. Lopez did the color commentary for Cox 7 of Desert Edge's Class 4A Division II championship victory against Tucson Santa Rita. After Pepperdine hired Lopez, Watt received an offer from the Malibu, Calif., school. Then came offers from Buffalo and Rutgers. Davidson came in and was reviewing film of Watt, before he decided on Buffalo this week.

Watt is more advanced defensively and he's a team player, something colleges like to hear.