Friday, October 31, 2008

Cornell Basketball in the News: Jay Bilas Likes "Big Lou"

Pictured above, Louis Dale shakes hands with Jay Bilas during practice before the 2008 NCAA Tournament in Anaheim. The following is from Jay Bilas' October 28 entry in his blog on ESPN.com:
It may be unfair to separate players into "major" and "mid-major" the way that we do, but I still haven't heard anyone put forth a better alternative. Here are the best "mid-major" players you will see this season: Stephen Curry (Davidson), Patrick Mills (St. Mary's), Lester Hudson (UT Martin), Matt Howard (Butler), Edwin Ubiles (Siena), Louis Dale (Cornell), Ryan Thompson (Rider), Brandon Johnson (San Diego), Diamon Simpson (St. Mary's), Cedric Jackson (Cleveland State) and Al Fisher (Kent State).

Recruiting News

Pictured above, Cornell senior captain, Brian Kreefer. Below, another dose of recruiting news from around the Ivy League.

Scout.com reports that Tyler McNeeley, a 6'7" power forward from Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey, a class of 2010 prospect, has early interest from Yale, Penn, Penn State, Columbia, Brown, Princeton, Lafayette, Lehigh, and Bucknell.

The New England Recruiting Reports notes that Dartmouth and Yale were both scouting players during an open gym session at Philips Exeter Academy. Among the players being scouted was postgraduate student, Josh Bartlestein, a 6'4" guard who played last season at Highland Park High School in Illinois with Cornell's Chris Wroblewski. Bartlestein is the son of Mark Bartlestein, the sports super agent.

Cornell Football on NBC, Sorta...

Anyone who regulary watches the comedy tv show, "The Office" on NBC knows that Cornell University is frequently mentioned in the show because the charcter, Andy Bernard (played by actor Ed Helms), graduated from C.U. Well, last night, Cornell football was mentioned (actually for the second time since the show first aired).

You can watch the full episode from last night, full of Cornell references, on NBC.com (by clicking here), but if you are short on time, we highly suggest watching between the 4:50 and 6:30 marks. Very funny stuff.

Maybe if we are lucky, NBC and The Office might give some love for Cornell Basketball!

Reports from Practice

Pictured above, Cornell's Ryan Wittman battles for rebounding position during the 2007-2008 season opener against Lehigh. Below, just a few nuggets from practice...
  • Geoff Reeves and Alex Tyler are back on the practice floor after suffering minor injuries earlier this month.
  • Louis Dale is still not practicing and out with was reported previously as a hamstring injury. Dale's sitting is reportedly a precautionary measure to ensure that he recovers fully before the Big Red's first game.
  • The new recruits are drawing rave reviews from several sources, especially freshman combo guard, Chris Wroblewski. With Dale and Gore out, Wroblewski has been running the point guard role with the "Red Team" (the first-teamers). While the new recruits are adjusting to the system and their new teammates, Big Red fans should be excited to see these fresh faces.
  • The Big Red have two closed-door scrimmages against opposing teams before they play in front of a public audience on November 8 in the annual Red-White scrimmage.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recruiting News

Pictured above, Cornell senior, Jason Battle.

On the recruiting front today, MinnesotaPreps.com reports that Caleb Palkert, a slender 6'8" 185 lb. forward from Chaska, Minnesota and Southwest Christian High School committed to new Division I member, South Carolina Upstate. Palkert had some interest from Cornell, Princeton and a bunch of Division II and Division III programs.

In other recruiting news, Josef Brown is reportedly expected to finish his last campus visit this weekend-- a trip to Dartmouth. Once the visit is completed, Brown is expected to decide between his three finalists-- Cornell, Lafayette and the Big Green. A 6'9" product of Wheatley High School in Houston, Texas, Brown also had a scholarship offer on the table from Furman.

Alumni News: Poll Closed

Whether you agree with the results or not, Cody Toppert (Cornell '05) was voted by the readers of The Cornell Basketball Blog as "the best former Cornell basketball player to play for Head Coach Steve Donahue."

Toppert finished his Cornell career with 1,232 points. He was a four-year starter at guard for the Big Red. His 237 career 3-pointers ranks among the all-time best at Cornell. Toppert was a two-time Ivy League weekly honoree and also ranks among the school's all-time leaders in rebounding, assists and steals.

Toppert never earned postseason All Ivy League honors during his career, but beat out fellow Cornellians and former All Ivy League First Team selections Ka'ron Barnes ('03) and Lenny Collins ('06). In addition, other candidates in the poll who were former All-Ivy League honorees, included Andrew Naeve ('07), Ray Mercedes ('01) and Eric Taylor ('05).

Toppert received 43% of the vote, followed by Barnes 32% and Collins 12%.

Wallace Prather ('02) along with Toppert, were the lone candidates without post-season honors on their resumes.

Cornell-St. John's Preview from The East Coast Bias


The blog, The East Coast Bias, previews St. John's nonconference schedule, in November including Cornell. The Big Red face the Red Storm on November 17, 2008. Below is an excerpt from The East Coast Bias:
Cornell (RPI: 65) will be a test; they were an excellent shooting Ivy League team, and played Duke closer than St. John’s did last year. Ohio beat them by 12,whereas the Ohio Bobcats beat St. John’s at the buzzer. Not sure if that means anything besides both teams weren’t great last year.

Ivy League Primer from The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com


The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

Quick facts
Defending regular-season champion:

Cornell
Top returning scorer:

Alex Barnett (Dartmouth), 15.6 ppg
Top returning rebounder:
Alex Barnett (Dartmouth), 7.3 rpg
Predicted Finish
1. Cornell
2. Penn
3. Harvard
4. Yale
5. Brown
6. Princeton
7. Dartmouth
8. Columbia

First Team All-Conference
G - Tyler Bernardini, Penn
G - Louis Dale, Cornell
G - Jeremy Lin, Harvard
F - Alex Barnett, Dartmouth
F - Ryan Wittman, Cornell


A team-by-team glance at the Ivy League heading into the 2008-09 season. (In predicted order of finish)

1. Cornell

Strengths: The Big Red, with its top four scorers returning from a team that went unbeaten in the Ivy League, have every expectation of not only going back to the NCAAs but to stick around a little longer this time. Cornell shoots the basketball as well as any team in the country. It was an NCAA top 10 team shooting both 3-pointers and free throws, and rarely goes through extended scoring droughts. The Big Red are a tough team to shut down on offense. The Big Red have the rare mix of youth and experience on the roster, starting juniors who both played and won big games a year ago. They're battle-tested and know what's in store and what needs to be done if Cornell hopes to take another step forward and put itself in position to advance in March this year.

Weaknesses: Adam Gore will miss at least most of the nonconference schedule as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in September. The team might be vulnerable early in the Ivy slate if it takes him longer than expected to get back into game shape. Cornell beefed up its schedule, looking to get enough opportunities for big wins to both impress the NCAA tournament selection committee and the computers that spit out the RPI, hoping to earn a better seed and a more beatable first-round opponent if it makes it back to the Big Dance. But that could prove counterproductive if the result is a lot of early season losses and some diminished confidence heading into January.

Scouting the newcomers: Steve Donahue brought in a strong class during the offseason, looking for the talent to be the next generation of NCAA tournament participants for Cornell. Max Grobe transferred in from UMass, and will be eligible starting in 2009. He's a strong shooter who will fit right in among the perimeter threats and played in 19 games off the bench for the NIT runner-ups. Also in the backcourt is Chris Wroblewski, a 6-1 two-star prospect from Illinois. Like Grobe, he's a shooter and has a strong all-around game. Alex Hill will fight for time as a forward. The Toronto native is more scorer than rebounder, and will likely have a tough fight for time off the bench early. Marc Van Burck is a 6-11 transfer from Colorado by way of Salt Lake Community College. His college career hasn't been great, but he has the size to be a force in the Ivy if he can get back on track.

Big Red Brackets

The Cornell Basketball Blog monitors the Big Red's bracket projections until the 2009 NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday.

Below are links to projections of the 2009 NCAA Tournament brackets.


For The Cornell Basketball Blog's prior "Big Red Brackets" posts, click here.

Cornell Basketball in the News

NBC's WETM 18 in Elmira, NY reports what was previously posted here on The Cornell Basketball Blog, Cornell has named its captains for 2008-2009. Four seniors, led by Conor Mullen (pictured above), along with classmates Adam Gore, Jason Battle and Brian Kreefer will lead the team during the 2008-2009 season.

Recruiting News: Cornell Hoops Offers Defensive Back

A bit of recruiting news today...

The Boston Globe reports that Cornell has offered Russell Braithwaite, a 6'3" 210 lb. combo guard originally from Brooklyn, but playing for the St. Mark's School in Southboorough, Massachusetts. He is ranked the No. 51 prospect in New England by the New England Recruiting Report.

Not known as a shooter, Braithwaite is extremely athletic and excels at finishing strong at the hoop, rebounding and playing lock down defense. A tough competitor, he also plays on his school football team, filling roles as a wide receiver, tailback, fullback, as well as safety on defense.

In basketball, he is primarily recruited by mid major programs while in football, some of the bigger name programs have shown interest. College football teams generally see Braithwaite as a safety at the next level. Boston College, Syracuse, UMass, and New Hampshire have all shown interest. Braithwaite said he's still a basketball guy first, and he considers Cornell his top choice. But more and more, he said, football is coming up to basketball's level. "It's in my heart right now," Braithwaite said of basketball to the Boston Globe. "But football is catching up. I enjoy playing both."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Schedule Update

It was announced this week by Ursinus College, Cornell's annual Division III opponent, that the Bears are ranked No.4 in the 2008 Division III News Preseason Top 25 Poll and No. 12 in the D3Hoops.com Preseason Top 25 Poll. Cornell faces Ursinus on January 3, 2009.

Ursinus is the alma mater of Cornell Head Coach Steve Donahue. The Bears finished 29-4 last season, captured the 2007-08 Centennial Conference title and advanced to the Division III Final Four.

A dangerous shooting opponent, the Bears shot 41% from beyond the arc as a squad last year.

Recruiting News

Scout.com reports that Rexton Gordon, a 6'3" guard from Huntington, Long Island and St. Anthony's H.S. has interest from Penn, Brown, Columbia, Bucknell, Lehigh and "other Ivy League and Patriot League schools." He is a member of the class of 2010.

Cornell Basketball in the News

Cornell's Marc Van Burck told The Cornell Daily Sun that he admits to eating ice cream at least once a day. He also said he believes that his eating habits have changed significantly for the better since arriving at Cornell. He told the Sun, “I have a more regular eating schedule here. I eat three solid meals as opposed to eating all day.” He also said he eats more salads. Van Burck, listed at 6'11" 255 pounds by Cornell Basketball was once listed by the University of Colorado at 280 lbs.

Spotlight on: Louis Dale

In The Cornell Basketball Blog's continuing Player Spotlight series, we profile junior guard Louis Dale.

As a sophomore during 2007-2008, the 5'11" Dale was the Ivy League Player of the Year and a unanimous First Team All-Ivy League selection. He was also an Honorable Mention All-American and was tabbed as CollegeInsider.com's Ivy League Player of the Year.

When you compare Dale to an NBA player, you have to think Chris Paul. Like the New Orleans Hornets superstar, Dale is a diminutive spark plug at point guard. He can shoot inside or outside, including on dunks, distribute the ball to teammates, defend, and rebound. And no other player in the Ivy League stuffs a stat sheet like "Lou" for the Big Red each game.

On the season Dale averaged 13.7 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 45% from the floor, 38% beyond the arc and 90% at the free throw line. In Ivy League play, he was even better where he averaged 14.4 points, 5.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game.

As a freshman during 2006-2007, Dale shot 47% from beyond the three-point arc.

A near lock at the free throw line, Dale led the nation in free-throw percentage for much of last year and made a school record 52 consecutive shots from the line. His 12-of-12 performance 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.

His best games of the year included tying his career scoring high with 24 points in both wins over Penn. His also notched an incredible 22 point, 11 rebound, six assist game in a win over Dartmouth. Against Siena, Dale had an impressive 20 point, nine rebound, six assist effort in a win over the MAAC Champions.

Just a junior, Dale already ranks sixth on the school’s single-season assist list.

Heading into 2009, he is listed as the nation's 20th ranked point guard and 86th overal, regardless of position or class year by Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview. He also has been named to numerous 2008-2009 preseason honors in other publications. See The Cornell Basketball Blog's 2008-2009 Season Preview Index.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Recruiting News: Tigers Get a Hummer


We have a recruiting commitment to report. Scout.com announced that Ian Hummer, a 6'6" forward from Washington, D.C.'s Gonzaga High School is headed to Princeton over interest from Northwestern and Cal. Hummer's uncle and father also played at Princeton. Hummer told Scout.com, “I always knew that I could play at a higher program but I’m not one of those kids where playing on TV is the biggest thing. If the NBA ever comes my way, if I’m good enough then I’ll be good enough. Being at a high-major program wasn’t the biggest thing.” Hummer is the fifth recruit in Princeton's 2008-2009 class.

In other recruiting news, Cornell receives a campus visit this weekend from Brady Brent, the 6'7" forward from Oregon who could possibly play basketball and high jump for the track team.

Also "big" recruiting news today from New Jersey. Scout.com reports that Egg Harbor's Atlantic Christian School's 7'1" 250 lb. Matt Piotrowski has several high majors and an Ivy after him. "N.C. State, Stanford, Penn, Virginia, and Arizona State are pretty much the main ones recruiting me," said Piotrowski.

Big Red Announce Captains and Red-White Scrimmage



ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cornell's four four-year members of the senior class will serve as captains for the upcoming 2008-09 men's basketball season it was announced today by head coach Steve Donahue. It will be the second year as captain for both Jason Battle and Adam Gore, while Brian Kreefer and Conor Mullen will serve as captains for the first time. The quartet will make their public debuts as team captains when Cornell holds the annual Red-White Scrimmage on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 4:30 p.m. in Newman Arena.

Battle is a jack of all trades who is fully capable of seeing extended minutes. The 6-5 swingman can defend any of four positions on the court and played significant time as the backup point guard in 2007-08. Battle has been one of the team's top defenders off the bench the last two seasons and played a large role on last year's Ivy championship team, averaging 9.5 minutes per game.

Gore will miss the non-league portion of the season after suffering a knee injury earlier this fall, but the two-time All-Ivy selection and former Ivy League Rookie of the Year will continue to provide leadership and motivation in his absence. Gore averaged 10.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists a season ago while shooting a school-record .917 from the free-throw line to rank first in the Ivy League. Gore had a season-best 19 points in the win at Penn, helping Cornell snap a 19-game losing skid at the Palestra, and added 18 points in back-to-back contests at home against Yale and Brown.

A 6-6 forward, Kreefer is a multi-skilled option who has starting experience and has made big plays in big moments over his first three season. One of the team's top passers, Kreefer does a great job finding open teammates and taking care of the basketball. He is an unselfish athlete who can hit the mid-range jumper or finish in the lane with contact. As a junior, Kreefer was a solid reserve who averaged 3.2 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 23 contests, including eight starts. He scored 10 points and had five assists in a win over MAAC champion Siena and posted 21 points in a win over Army.

A strong, physical guard capable of scoring and rebounding with the frontcourt players, Mullen is a good shooter from long range. He is one of the team's toughest and most competitive players. Mullen played in 14 contests off the bench as a junior. In 30 total minutes, he scored 19 points with six rebounds and added six assists while turning the ball over just twice. He has shown in his three varsity seasons that he is fully capable of stepping into the lineup and contributing in a big way when called upon, as evidenced by his sophomore season stretch where he played nearly 13 minutes per game off the bench.

Fans of the Big Red will get a sneak peek immediately following the Cornell football game against Dartmouth at 1 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field.

Cornell returns four starters and seven of its top eight scorers from last season's 22-6 squad that ran through an undefeated league campaign (14-0) en route to its third NCAA tournament appearance in program history. Returning are reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Louis Dale, fellow unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection and USBWA and NABC all-district pick Ryan Wittman, and second-team all-league honorees Gore and Jeff Foote . Starting power forward Alex Tyler also returns as one of the team's leading scorers and rebounders.

The Big Red opens its 2008-09 regular season at home against South Dakota on Friday, Nov. 14, at 8:30 p.m. as the second game of a doubleheader with the women's volleyball team, who will play Dartmouth at 6 p.m.. Season and single-game tickets are available by calling (607) 254-2327.

Alumni News: Rourke, Hartford, McCord, Aubry Playing Big Roles Abroad

Below, we provide updates on several Cornell alums playing overseas,. Pictured above, alums Ryan Rourke (left) and Jason Hartford (right).

On October 25, Cornell alum Ryan Rourke (Cornell '06) scored 29 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in Japan's BJ League action, but the Takamatsu Five Arrows defeated his Shiga Lakestars 91-90. The following night on October 26, Rourke scored 28 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, but Five Arrows again defeated Shiga, 90-75. Rourke's expansion team Lakestars fall to 0-4 on the season. On a positive note, Rourke is 3rd in the league in scoring, averaging 23.5 points per game.

On the other side of the world, also on October 26, Cornell alum Jason Hartford ('08) poured in 29 points and 8 rebounds for his Huima team in a 108-92 win over BC Nokia in Finland's First Division action. Through four games, Hartford is averaging 17.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Huima is 3-1 on the young season.

In France, former 1st Team All Ivy League selection, John McCord (Cornell '97), a 6'6" forward for Antibes is averaging 12.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in five games of action. On October 25, he carried his team to a victory with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists as Antibes earned its first win of the season, a 96-62 triumph over Quimper. Antibes is 1-5 in the French Pro B League.

Meanwhile, Jeff Aubry ('99) averaged 7.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game during the 2007-2008 season for Ponce Leones in the Puerto Rico Basketball League. On October 20 he was traded to the Arecibo Captains. Hey, at least Aubry is back on the Cornell campus again!

Pictured above, the entrance sign to Cornell's extended campus at Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Also, don't forget to vote in the Cornell Basketball Blog's current poll (on the upper right side of the Blog)! We want to know your thoughts on who was the best former Cornell player to play for Head Coach Steve Donahue. Feel free to also leave a comment to this post or post a message on The Cornell Basketball Blog's Community Forum and Message Board (click here, FREE membership).

Cornell Basketball in the News

St. John's Head Coach Norm Roberts referenced the Red Storm's November 17 meeting with Cornell in today's Staten Island Advance. Apparently, he will not let his team take Cornell lightly. "We're playing tough games before the Big East schedule. LIU is going to be a tough opening game and we play Cornell, a tournament team that has everyone back and then the Preseason NIT," said Roberts. "We'll be well prepared to play good teams by the time our Big East schedule starts."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Poll Question: Cast Your Vote on Alums

Vote in the Cornell Basketball Blog's current poll (on the upper right side of the Blog)! We want to know your thoughts on who was the best former Cornell player to play for Head Coach Steve Donahue. Feel free to also leave a comment to this post or post a message on The Cornell Basketball Blog's Community Forum and Message Board (click here, FREE membership).

As of publication time of this post, Cody Toppert (Cornell '05) (pictured above) leads all candidates in voting. During the Ivy League Media Day earlier this month, Coach Donahue referenced Toppert's December 20, 2004 performance against Syracuse where the native of Albuquerque drained 7/10 from beyond the three-point arc.

Recruiting News

Score another one for Lehigh. Scout.com reports that the Mountain Hawks received a commitment this week from Kevin McCarthy, a developing, but big, 6'10" 240 lb. center from Warren, Michigan's De La Salle Collegiate. He was also recruited by Cornell, Princeton, Colgate, Holy Cross, and Lafayette after averaging 10 points and just over 8 rebounds per game during his junior season.

TexasHoops.com reports that class of 2010 point guard prospect, Bakari Turner from Plano, Texas commited to Baylor over interest from Cornell, Stanford, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M among others.

TexasHoops.com also reports that Josef Brown, a 6’9” post player from Wheatley High School in Houston has recruitment interest from Cornell, Lafayette and Dartmouth. He also holds a scholarship offer from Furman (coached by Cornell alum, Jeff Jackson) and had some recruitment involvement from Princeton and Wichita State. He visited Furman the weekend of September 19-21.

He told TexasHoop
s.com about his visit to Furman, "It went alright - Furman is a nice school. I enjoyed getting to meet the guys and they were all down to earth. I played with the team and I thought I fit in perfectly." Brown also visited Cornell on October 17-19 and plans on visiting Dartmouth and Lafayette.

Brown is hopeful that once the early signing period arrives he'll commit to a school. "Academics come first and foremost and I want a school that has a good department for my major," he said. "I'm also looking for a team that can compete and at least get to the NCAA Tournament."

As a junior, Brown averaged 8.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game for Wheatley. TexasHoops.com ranks him the No. 64 prospect in Texas for the Class of 2009.

TexasHoops.com provides the following scouting report on Brown:
Brown is a long and solid built paint player who has the chance to surprise people as he played sparingly on the spring and summer circuit. He runs the floor very well, is a good rebounder and challenges and alters shots in the paint. He goes to the offensive boards strong, gets put backs and has a soft touch in the paint. He will need to add some more weight and strength and could be a sleeper if he will get more aggressive.

Recruiting News

Scout.com reports that Harold Spears, a 6'5" forward from Pennington, New Jersey expects visits in his high school gym this fall from Cornell, Princeton and Drexel, permitting assistant coaches to watch him workout. Brown, Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette, and Holy Cross are also recruiting him.

On the football front, Spears is a "High" major recruit for tight end. Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Boston College, Maryland among many others are recruiting the 205 pounder.

Roster Report: Changes in Heights/Weights

There have been some information changes made to the official Cornell roster since the summer. Below, The Cornell Basketball Blog summarizes the losses and gains in team's weights and heights.
  • Jeff Foote- Formerly listed at 7'0" and 225 lbs., he is now much bigger, listed at 245 lbs.
  • Chris Wroblewski- Formerly listed at 6'1" and 170 lbs., now listed at just 6'0" but 180 lbs.
  • Aaron Osgood- Once listed at 6'9" 215 lbs., 15 new pounds brings him up to 230 lbs.
  • Jason Battle-From 6'4 200, he is now listed at 6'5".
  • Louis Dale-At 5'11" 180 lbs., he has not changed.
  • Andre Wilkins-Still 6'5" but new 8 pounds brings him to 198 lbs.
  • Geoff Reeves- Holding steady at 180 lbs, but dropped from 6'5" to 6'4". Perhaps a new haircut?
  • Ryan Wittman-He added 5 pounds in the offseason, now tipping scales at 6'6" and 215 lbs.
  • Khaliq Gant-Still 6'3" but 5 new pounds brings him to 180 lbs.
  • Conor Mullen-Formerly 6'5" 210lbs., he adds 5 pounds bringing his weight to 215 lbs.
  • Adam Gore-Holding steady at 6'0" and 180 lbs.
  • Adam Wire-Big jump from 6'5" 205 lbs. to an newly listed 222 lbs.
  • Jon Jaques-Five new pounds for the 6'7" 220 lb. Californian.
  • Alex Tyler-Holding steady at 6'7" 235 lbs.
  • Brian Kreefer-Senior adds 10 pounds, now listed at 6'7" 230 llbs.
  • Pete Reynolds-10 very much needed pounds added to newly listed 6'8" 220 lb. frame.
  • Alex Hill-Biggest overall reported body change on the team. He goes from 6'4" 215 lbs. to 6'5" 190. A taller and lankier freshman.
  • Marc Van Burck-"Big Canada " holds steady at 6'11" 255 lbs.
  • Max Groebe-UMass transfer adds 15 lbs., jumping to 6'4" and 200 lbs.

Recruiting News

Although he has yet to play a single game of his junior year in high school, according to ChicagoHoops.com, Wisconsin-Milwaukee has already offered a scholarship to Tim Rusthoven (pictured above), a 6'8" power forward from West Chicago's Wheaton Academy. A member of the class of 2010, Cornell, William & Mary, and Miami (OH) are also after the Illinois prospect.

Cornell Basketball in the News

Cornell was mentioned briefly in a pair of articles previewing the Indiana Hoosiers appearing in Rivals.com and USA Today.

The USA Today article notes:
In the past, games against Northwestern State and Cornell could be chalked up as blowout wins. Not this season. This is new territory for Crean and the Indiana faithful.
The Rivals article notes the following:

Not only did Indiana's [Tom] Crean inherit a nearly invisible roster – seven players were either kicked off the team or transferred – but he also has perhaps the toughest schedule in the Big Ten. The depleted Hoosiers will face five non-conference teams that went to the 2008 NCAA tournament, the most of any in the league. Indiana will play in the Maui Invitational, starting out against Notre Dame. The Hoosiers will play either Texas or Saint Joseph's in the second round. IU also faces Gonzaga in the first basketball game played at Lucas Oil Field (new home of NFL's Indianapolis Colts) in Indianapolis as part of the Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase. Crean's squad also will travel to Kentucky and play host to defending Ivy League champ Cornell.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Schedule Update: Red at Gophers

Acording to a Minnesota Gophers basketball blog, From the Barn, tickets for the Cornell at Minnesota game on December 6 are in high demand. Only upper deck seats remain.

Recruiting News


Here is a bit of news from the recruiting scene from over the weekend.

Steve Rennnard, a class of 2010, 6'1" guard from St. Joseph's Prep school in Metuchen, New Jersey lists his major recruiters as Princeton, Massachusetts, Fordham, Cornell, Columbia, Penn, and Brown. "Steve has increasing interest from Davidson, Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette, Cornell and Vermont," said Matt Pauls, Rennard's AAU coach. Pauls told Scout.com, "The three schools that are high on the radar are Princeton, Brown and Penn. His recruitment is still wide open."

Frantz Massenat, a 6'3", 170-pound class of 2010 lead guard from Trenton Catholic Academy in Hamilton, New Jersey also plays for Pauls in the NJABC AAY program. Pauls told Scout.com that "He is being heavily recruited by Princeton, Penn, Bucknell, LaSalle, Rider, and Fordham." Pauls also mentioned that Massenat visited Penn and attended a practice session.

Ethan Michael, a 6'7" forward from Toledo Christian in Ohio committed this week to Air Force. He was reportedly offered a roster spot by Cornell. Michael will attend Air Force's prep school for one year before formally enrolling in the Academy. The prep school is akin to taking a red-shirt season. Michael joins 6'7" forward Zach Bohannon from Iowa as part of Air Force's recruiting class. Bohannon was also offered a roster spot by Cornell.

An interesting name on the Big Red radar is Brady Brent, a 6'7" slender forward from Bend, Oregon, Mountain View High School. Brent is heavily recruited by Cornell's national power track team as a long jumper, but there is also discussion of his participating in the basketball program. For basketball, Brent does not have any Division I offers, although new D-I member, Seattle University is very interested and requested he visit their campus. Most of his basketball recruitment is at the Division II level, but he seems very interested in Cornell as a dual-sport athlete and plans on visiting the Ithaca campus in the upcoming weeks.

In case you missed it, check out or updated report on Cornell's newest addition to its recruiting class, Eitan Chemerinski. He joins UMass transfer, Max Groebe, as additions to the Cornell roster in 2009-2010.

Wittman Receives Another Preseason Honor

Cornell's Ryan Wittman was listed by CollegeHoopsNet.com as the #4 ranked three-point shooter in the country headed into the 2008-2009 season.

For a collection of links to previews into the Big Red's upcoming campaign, check out The Cornell Basketball Blog's 2008-2009 Season Preview Index.

For access to the Season Preview Index later on during the season, please note that it is also listed in our list of links along the right column of the Blog.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook Cornell Preview

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, arguably the most comprehensive preseason publication has hit stores across the country. Below is Blue Ribbon's preview of the Cornell Big Red.

Cornell Big Red

Last Season: 22-6 (.786)
Conference Record: 14-0 (1st)
Starters Lost/Returning: 1/4
Coach: Steve Donahue (Ursinus '84)
Record At School: 96-123 (8 years)
Career Record: 96-123 (8 years)
RPI Last 5 years: 267-210-207-169-65

COACH AND PROGRAM

If there is anyone with a Cornell pedigree associated with the International Olympic Committee, he or she would be wise to wield some clout now.

The key, it seems, to elevating Big Red basketball to the peak of the Ivy League is to stage the Summer Olympic Games in a Pacific Rim city. In 1988, Seoul was the host and Cornell won the Ancient Eight race by one game. Twenty years later, Beijing and the Big Red hooked up not once, but twice -- Cornell's women won their first-ever share of the Ivy title and pushed through a league playoff to dance in the NCAA Tournament.

Unless the Games suddenly become an annual Far East affair, the coincidence likely stops there. After rampaging undefeated through the grueling Friday-Saturday Ivy schedule -- the first squad to do so since Penn in 2002-03 -- Cornell returns nine of its top 10 scorers and reigns as the overwhelming favorite to repeat as league gold-medalist.

"I never felt this was a team that could do that," coach Steve Donahue said about his team's scorched-earth policy last winter. "You don't think a team that young will develop the consistency to handle the Friday-Saturday games. But performing well at Duke [an 81-67 loss in early January] was a huge part of our confidence. Then we got through the Yale-Brown trip and ended it by taking care of Penn and Princeton on the road, which is never easy."

The payback for starting three sophomores all year long was issued by Stanford in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. During that 77-53 loss, the Big Red shot a season-low 30.5 percent from the field, including 15.6 percent in the first half.

"We got what we deserved," Donahue said. "If I had a team of all seniors that went out like that, then I'd be devastated. But we're not there yet. We had two sophomores battling two lottery picks [seven-foot twins Brook and Robin Lopez; the latter was actually selected 15th]. All in all, it was great motivation to get back there."

PLAYERS

Any prognosis of another slip into March Madness begins with the Big Red Three: 5-11 junior Louis Dale (#12, 13.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.9 apg, .377 3PT), 6-6 junior Ryan Wittman (#20, 15.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, .459 3PT) and 6-0 senior Adam Gore (#23, 10.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg, .415 3PT).

Dale is the little engine that did, the Ivy League Player of the Year after ranking in the league's top 10 in six statistics. Think of Dale as a smaller version of league MVP predecessor Ibrahim Jaaber from Penn -- dangerous on penetration, a gracious ball distributor, a slick defender, a great rebounder for his size and an icemaker (89.7 percent) from the free-throw line.

"He's an intelligent player who takes advantage of the opportunities around him," Donahue said. "He's always making plays for others, and he's really dedicating himself to the coming year."

The two prime beneficiaries of Dale's munificence are Wittman and Gore, who combined to drain 44 percent of their three-point shots last winter. Wittman, the son of Minnesota Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman, ranked third in the Ivies in arc accuracy and second in treys made per game (2.79). A unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection as a sophomore, Wittman is the second-best returning scorer in the Ivy and already sits in fourth place on the school's career three-pointers made list (171).

Gore was sidelined for the remainder of the 2006-07 season after tearing an ACL in the season opener at Northwestern. But the former Ivy Rookie of the Year adapted well to a backcourt swarming with scorers; Gore was sixth in the league in three-point success, ranked second on the Big Red in steals (30) and missed only 6-of-72 free throws.

So, Donahue has three experienced, high-voltage guards ready to unleash again on the league. What does he want from them in 2008-09? More.

"They have so much room for improvement," the ninth-year coach said. "They all can improve a great deal physically. They can be better defensively, better on the ball. They can be tougher mentally."

Although USC transfer Collin Robinson walked away from the team after 13 games last year because of what Donahue called "personal reasons," the Big Red still has the deepest backcourt in the league. Geoff Reeves (#15, 3.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, .425 3PT), a 6-5 junior from Kansas, could start on just about any other Ivy team; he scored 14 points in a home win over Brown that all but clinched last year's crown.

Jason Battle (#5, 1.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg), a 6-4 senior swingman and another excellent free-throw shooter, could earn more minutes if he rebounds better. Another guard-slash-forward, 6-5 junior Andre Wilkins (#13, 1.6 ppg, 1.1 rpg) checked into all but one game during his first season in Ithaca (Wilkins transferred from Blinn College after his freshman season).

Other backcourt options include 6-5 senior Conor Mullen (#22, 1.4 ppg, 14 games) and 6-5 sophomore Adam Wire (#24, 0.6 ppg, 12 games). Khaliq Gant, a 6-3 senior who suffered a cervical neck injury two years ago, remains on the roster as a practice player and source of inspiration for his teammates.

If there is one nagging doubt about Cornell version 2008-09, it's the graduation loss of Jason Hartford from the front line. The 6-9 center was a glue guy who forced defenses to respect him outside (.325 3PT) and mopped up a team-high 43 offensive rebounds.

"He always gave us terrific minutes and was savvy about the game of basketball," Donahue said. "He was very integral for us."

Alex Tyler (#33, 8.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg), a 6-7 junior who started 27-of-28 games last year, won't step far from the paint. Nor will 7-0 senior Jeff Foote (#1, 7.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg), the team's best returning rebounder.

If there is an heir apparent to Hartford, it could be 6-7 senior Brian Kreefer (#34, 3.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg, .615 FG). Kreefer lingers around the high post and stepped back to hit 3-of-9 from three.

Other supplements to Cornell's wall include 6-9 sophomore Aaron Osgood (#4, 0.9 ppg, in nine games), 6-8 junior Pete Reynolds (0.1 ppg, 14 games) and 6-7 junior Jon Jaques (#25, 0.9 ppg in 13 games).

Donahue's four-man recruiting class includes a possible post contributor in 6-11 junior Marc Van Burck (2.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg), a transfer from Salt Lake Community College who spent his freshman campaign at the University of Colorado. Salt Lake went 32-4 last year and lost to South Plains (Texas) in the NJCAA Tournament final.

Guard support arrives in the person of 6-1 freshman Chris Wroblewski (17.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg), one of the best three-point shooters Highland Park (Ill.) High has ever produced. Alex Hill (14.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg), a 6-4 freshman from Toronto, led Eastern Commerce Institute in scoring as a senior. Max Groebe, a 6-4 sophomore transfer from UMass, will sit out this season under NCAA rules.

BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS

BACKCOURT: A
BENCH/DEPTH: A
FRONTCOURT: B
INTANGIBLES: B+

Cornell's non-conference schedule is dotted with prominent names -- Indiana, Syracuse, Siena, Minnesota, Saint Joseph's -- but it's folly to presume the Big Red is an automatic underdog against any of those teams.

Fact: Cornell shot under 40 percent from the floor in only two games last year, and Duke wasn't one of them.

Fact: The Big Red was top 10 nationally in three-point and free-throw percentages, and most of those responsible are suiting up again.

Conjecture: It's more difficult to repeat an unprecedented feat, and that's Cornell's unique task this year. Prohibitive favorite it is, but Donahue isn't real comfortable wearing the target worn perennially by Penn and Princeton in the Ivy League's history.

"If we don't improve, someone will be better than us within the league," Donahue said. "If we don't play our best, someone will beat us. That's the motivation I preach to our guys."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Recruiting News: Chemerinski and Moore... [UPDATE]

The Cornell Basketball Blog had an opportunity to speak with both Matt Feldman and Eyal Fierst, coaches of Eitan Chemerinski, the 6'8" 195 lb. wing forward from Rockville, Maryland's Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. Chemerinski is the Big Red's most recent recruiting commitment.

Fierst coached Chemerinski the last two years at Smith before leaving to become a coach at another school.

Feldman begins the 2008-2009 season as the Head Coach of the Smith varsity basketball program and worked with Chemerinski and his college recruiters this past summer.

"He's going to be the best player you've never heard of, without a doubt," Feldman told the Washington Post.

During 2007-2008, Chemerinski was an Honorable Mention All-Maryland Gazette selection and 1st Team All Potomac Valley Athletic Conference. He averaged 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assist per game.

When asked to describe Chemerinski, Fierst noted, "He is explosive...he can dunk in a step... he is aggressive, a good shot blocker, even from the weak side." When asked about his shooting range, Fierst noted that Chemerinski primarily played inside at the high school level for Smith, but added that he is capable of hitting the three-point shot out to the high school arc and is working on improving his range and ball handling. "He also has to get stronger... He is a workaholic... he'll get better," Fierst said.

Feldman described Cherminski as "very athletic" with an all-around offensive skill-set.

Fierst added that Chemerinksi has grown about an inch in the last year and projects to add more weight to his current frame. Feldman noted that he expects Chemerinski to grow another inch and with his wide shoulders, to eventually fall in the 205-225 pound range, depending on the position he plays in college.

When asked about Chemerinski's college recruitment, Fierst and Feldman both noted that Chemerinski was extremely focused on attending an Ivy League school and eliminated recruitment attention from schools outside of the conference. "He was going to attend one of those eight schools," Feldman said. Nevertheless, because Chemerinski really only played on the AAU basketball and camp circuit this past summer, he did not get as much exposure as other top high school prospects.

In discussiong schools of interest, Feldman said that Cornell, Penn, Harvard, Columbia and Princeton all recruited Chemerinski with varying levels of interest. Virtually all of top academic schools in the Division III ranks, including Williams College, Amherst and Tufts recruited him. "If he went to one of those D-III schools, he'd be All-League as a freshman," said Feldman.

Chemerinski took campus visits to Penn, Princeton, and Columbia, met with the coaching staffs and was visited down at Smith by the coaching staff of Harvard. Within a two-week period, he also participated in both Penn's and Cornell's Elite Basketball Camps.

Cornell also had the opportunity to scout him at the Hoop Group Elite Academic Camp and soon thereafter extended an "offer" to him to join the Big Red's roster, pending admission and a suitable financial aid package. The other Ivies, including Penn remained very involved and interested in his recruitment, but Cornell was too much of an opportunity to pass down.

"[Assistant] Coach [Zach] Spiker and [Head] Coach [Steve] Donahue were both really involved in Eitan's recruitment and that was important to us... they were really excited about Eitan," said Feldman.

Raised in a Modern Orthodox Jewish household, Fierst and Feldman both confirmed that Chemerinski plans on participating in Cornell practices and playing in games during the Jewish Sabbath. "It was something he understood when he decided he wanted to play in the Ivy League," said Fierst.

An excellent student, Chemerinski is a National Merit Scholar. "He speaks five languages," said Feldman.

***

In other recruiting news, Scout.com reports that Pat Moore, a 6'5" forward from Notre Dame High School in Utica, N.Y. has some changes in his recruitment situation. "Colgate offered him," Jim Hart, Moore's AAU coach told Scout.com. "Fairfield, Siena, Columbia, Harvard, Northeastern are interested. He recently took a visit to Harvard and liked it." Cornell was previously mentioned as involved in his recruitment.


Wittman and Dale Tabbed as Mid Major All Americans by CHN

Cornell's Ryan Wittman, No. 20 pictured above defends Syracuse's Johnny Flynn on December 22, 2007 at the Carrier Dome.

CollegeHoopsNet.com ("CHN") tabbed Ryan Wittman as a Third-Team Preseason All-American. Louis Dale was listed as a selection to the Honorable Mentions.

CollegeHoopsNet.com: Cornell No. 21 Among Non-BCS Schools

CollegeHoopsNet.com ("CHN") ranks Cornell No. 21 in the nation in its Preseason Non BCS Conference Poll.

CHN Top 25 Non BCS Schools
1. Gonzaga
2. Memphis
3. Saint Mary’s
4. UNLV
5. Davidson
6. Xavier
7. Siena
8. San Diego
9. UAB
10. Creighton
11. VCU
12. Nevada
13. BYU
14. Temple
15. Massachusetts
16. Tulsa
17. Saint Joseph’s
18. Illinois State
19. Kent State
20. Southern Illinois
21. Cornell
22. Portland State
23. San Diego State
24. American
25. Cleveland State

Others Considered: Dayton, Charlotte, UTEP, Western Michigan, Cal State Northridge, Mount St. Mary’s, Tennessee-Martin, Old Dominion, New Mexico

CollegeHoopsNet.com Ivy League Preview

CollegeHoopsNet.com selects Cornell's Adam Gore (pictured above) as a preseason Second Team All Ivy selection.

CollegeHoopsNet.com: Ivy League Preview

October 22, 2008

The Ivy League finally saw someone break the Penn/Princeton stranglehold last season, as Cornell went 14-0 during conference play to end 20 years of domination by those two schools. Coincidentally, Cornell was the last school besides Penn and Princeton to win the league before last season – in 1988. Last year was not even close. Cornell jumped out to an early lead and finished three games ahead of Brown, six games ahead of Penn. As for Princeton, the Tigers finished tied for last place at 3-11. Once in the NCAA Tournament, Cornell was obliterated by Stanford in the first-round. This year, Cornell will look to start its own dynasty at the top of the Ivy League.

Favorite: Cornell dominated the conference last season, and returns four starters from that campaign. The Big Red have arguably the two best players in the league in guard Louis Dale, the reigning Player of the Year, and forward Ryan Wittman, one of the best shooters in the country. Adam Gore is another all-conference candidate. Up front, Jeff Foote and Alex Tyler hold down the fort in the paint.

Contenders: Penn looks to get back atop the Ivy League after falling to third last year. The Quakers are led by their talented frontcourt of all-conference forward Tyler Bernardini and big men Jack Eggleston and Andreas Schreiber. In the backcourt, Harrison Gaines and Kevin Egee lead the way. Brown was the surprise second-place finisher last season, and want to take the next step. The Bears own perhaps the toughest match-up in the league in Chris Skrelja, a 6-6 point guard who can do it all. He is flanked at guard by Peter Sullivan. Adrian Williams is a solid defender, while Matt Mullery and Scott Friske lead the frontcourt.

Sleepers: Harvard has the offensive options to be a real threat this season. The Crimson have one of the best forward tandems in the conference in Pat Magnarelli and Evan Harris, two solid scorers and rebounders. The perimeter also has plenty of skill, namely all-conference guard Jeremy Lin and double-figure scorer Drew Housman. Yale finished tied for fourth last season, but return just two starters. Ross Morin and Travis Pinick are a very good inside duo, while Alex Zampier could be poised for a bigger role this season on the perimeter for the Bulldogs.

Rounding out the Pack: Columbia was expected to be a title contender last season, but the Lions finished just 7-7 and now lose four starters. However, there is still some talent left on the roster. Patrick Foley is a solid point guard, while Niko Scott and K.J. Matsui can score. La Salle transfer Brian Grimes will make an immediate impact down low. Dartmouth will be carried by the league’s top returning scorer and rebounder, all-conference forward Alex Barnett. Outside of him, there is not much. Elgin Fitzgerald and Kurt Graeber are good frontcourt options, while Marlon Sanders is the top option on the perimeter. Was last season an anomaly for Princeton? The Tigers have been slipping in recent years, but they hit rock-bottom last season, going just 6-23 overall. They do have one of the league’s best big men in Zach Finley, an all-conference candidate, but Jason Briggs and Marcus Schroeder will have to step up on the perimeter.

Prediction: After 20 years of Penn and Princeton domination over the league, it looks like it will be time for a new dynasty to start – for two years, at least. Cornell ran roughshod through the Ivy last season, and return enough personnel to do the same this year. However, the league might be better as a whole than it was last season. Penn will always be in the mix, Brown has some serious height and Harvard has the guns offensively to hang with anyone. While I do expect Cornell to lose at least one game this season, the Big Red are too good at both ends of the floor to finish anywhere but first. The fact that they have perhaps the two best players in the league helps, too. The next step will be a first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament.

Player of the Year: Louis Dale, G, Cornell

All-Conference Team:
G- Louis Dale, Cornell
G- Chris Skrelja, Brown
F- Alex Barnett, Dartmouth
F- Ryan Wittman, Cornell
F- Tyler Bernardini, Penn

Second Team:
G- Jeremy Lin, Harvard
G- Adam Gore, Cornell
F- Pat Magnarelli, Harvard
C- Ross Morin, Yale
C- Zach Finley, Princeton

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Recruiting News: Cornell Lands Recruiting Commitment


According to the Washington Post, Cornell has a recruiting commitment. He is Eitan Chemerinski, a 6'8" 195 lb. wing forward. A native of Potomac, Maryland, he averaged 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists per game for the Charles E. Smitth Jewish Day School and played for the Metro Sixers AAU Squad. He was also named an All Star at Hoop Group's Elite Academic Camp.

See the Washington Post story below:


Got an interesting one here. Eitan Chemerinski, a 6-9 forward at Jewish Day School, has committed to play for Ivy League defending champion Cornell, first-year JDS Coach Matt Feldman said.

"He's going to be the best player you've never heard of, without a doubt," said Feldman, who previously was an assistant coach at St. John's. "He could start in the WCAC. I still think with a little bit of publicity he could be second-team All-Met. You're going to have to come watch. No one has given him any pub or any love. He could play the three in college."

Chemerinski had never played travel-team basketball before this past summer. After he played in one game, he phoned Feldman to say that "they had three guys who were 6-8. Coach, I've never played against anyone taller than 6-5." Even then, Feldman said, he opted to skip going to Las Vegas for the bigger tournaments in order to attend another camp that showcased players interested in Ivy League schools.

"He's totally off the radar," Feldman said.

Recruiting News

Pictured above, Newman Nation favorite, Cornell's Jeff Foote.

In Big Red recruiting news today, MinnesotaPreps.com reports that Chisago Lakes, Minnesota 6'8" forward Josh Figini averaged 22.6 points and 11.6 rebounds last year, but has yet to receive a Divison I offer. "Figini has offers from Augustana and Southwest State, but is waiting and hoping for a division one opportunity," said Charlie Paxson, Figini's Minnesota Glory AAU Coach. He continued, "Colorado, Belmont, and Minnesota have shown interest, but not offered. Figini is an unbelievable athlete. He can shoot the three or dunk with ease and he's the ultimate team player. Josh can play the two, three, or four positions." Chisago Lakes head coach Herb Jango added, "A number of mid division ones along with many division two and division three schools have called and asked about him. Top on Josh's list at this time are Augustana (SD), Winona State, Bethel, and Cornell out of the Ivy League." MinnesotaPreps noted that another team that has looked at Figini is Samford.

In other news, Scout.com reports that Tim Frazier, a 6'1" point guard from Strake Jesuit High School in Houston, Texas announced he will attend college at Penn State. Frazier had offers to Harvard and UPenn and visited both campuses. He also had reported offers to Stanford and Bucknell among others. Frazier told TexasHoops.com during July that he was receiving recruiting attention from Cornell.

Scout.com also reports that Kyle Randall, a 6'0" point guard out of Kennedy Catholic in Hermitage, Pennsylvania is visiting Stanford this weekend. The Cardinal have made a scholarship offer. Sources have reported that Stanford opted to offer Randall a scholarship instead of recent Harvard commitment, Brandyn Curry.

New Poll

Vote in the Cornell Basketball Blog's newest poll (on the upper right side of the Blog)! We want to know your thoughts on who was the best former Cornell player to play for Head Coach Steve Donahue. Feel free to also leave a comment to this post or post a message on The Cornell Basketball Blog's Community Forum and Message Board (click here, FREE membership).

Pictured above, Cornell's Ka'ron Barnes (class of 2004) was a First Team All-Ivy League Selection in 2004 and a Second Team All Ivy League Selection in 2003.