Thursday, December 24, 2009

Announcement: Holiday Week Publishing

The Cornell Basketball Blog will have limited publishing during the holiday week. Seasons greetings to all and thank you for reading!

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The Cornell men's basketball team was up to more than just winning the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival. Senior Andre Wilkins and the Big Red recorded their trip to New York City as the team searched for the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Watch the journey ... then enjoy Happy Holidays from Cornell Athletics!

(originally published 12.23.09)

News and Notes: Evening Edition

Just a few news and notes...
The Big Red also played a skilled Big East squad this weekend in St. John’s, and Cornell took down the Red Storm, 71-66. St. John’s is no Georgetown, but after watching that game at Madison Square Garden, it was apparent that the Big Red won despite lacking its opponent’s athleticism and raw talent. Cornell’s advantage came from its discipline and poise, instilled in the team by its veteran leadership, spearheaded by the impressive senior trio of Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale, and Jeff Foote. Even when St. John’s pulled ahead, the Big Red kept its composure and found good looks at the basket.

Ivy climbing

After Cornell rallied to steal the Holiday Festival championship away from St. John's, Red Storm coach Norm Roberts said, "Without a doubt, that's an NCAA Tournament team."

Now, was he making a prediction on the Ivy League race, or was he campaigning early for a Big Red at-large bid?

The Ivy hasn't had an at-large bid. The league declining to hold a tournament and award that team its automatic bid is one reason. Because the bid goes to the regular-season champ, there's never a true hard-luck story.

However, with Cornell owning victories over Alabama and St. John's, and with Harvard expected to be a serious challenger for the Ivy crown, this could be a year when an at-large bid is possible—even necessary.

Jon Jaques: Blogger and Baller

By Jon Jaques
New York Times
December 24, 2009

Jon Jaques is a senior on the Cornell basketball team. As he did last season, Jon will be blogging for The Quad throughout this season.

I knew playing at Madison Square Garden meant being on the floor where some classic games have occurred, but to be involved in a great finish at the venue was something I could not have imagined.

After being up by 13 points against a tough Davidson team at halftime, we let our guard down and the Wildcats came storming back. Only a clutch driving layup by Louis Dale that tied the game as time expired in regulation saved us from a crushing defeat. The stage was set for Ryan Wittman, who cemented his spot as one of the top shooters in the country this weekend. After a Davidson miss at the free-throw line left the game tied with 6 seconds remaining in overtime, Witt gathered the outlet pass, shook two defenders and rose up for 30 footer at the buzzer. When the ball came down right in the bottom of the net to give us a ridiculous win and send us to the Holiday Festival final to face St. John’s, the team, as expected, went nuts. Maybe the best part was watching the highlight over and over again on SportsCenter later that night. Not only did the shot and the ensuing storming of the floor dominate the lead into the broadcast, but it was also the No. 3 overall play on the show’s top 10 plays the next morning.

Watching each person’s reaction to the shot was priceless. The freshman Miles Asafo-Adjei immediately chased after Wittman, pointing at him with an outstretched arm the entire way. The freshman Errick Peck ran around the court looking lost for a few seconds before finding the rest of us mobbing Witt. The freshman Eitan Chemerinski stood clapping on the bench alone for a few moments before joining the ruckus. Just to prove I’m not only picking on our freshmen, the assistant coach Nat Graham had somehow made it all the way down toward the end of the bench by the time the ball was released and gave the classic two-fist pump celebration when it went down. Whatever the individual celebration may have been, that game and that monster shot will surely never be forgotten by those close to the Cornell basketball program.

Even though the Garden wasn’t near its capacity for our game St. John’s on Monday night, the stage was as big as I’ve been on in my college basketball career. To be honest, though I had circled the Garden games on my personal calendar coming into the season, I did not expect to play such a significant role in Cornell’s first win over a Big East team since beating Villanova 40 years ago. After primarily sitting on the bench for three years, I can honestly say that I relish any opportunity I get on the court to help the team win a game. But to have such a memorable night, both personally and team-wise, on the same floor where Michael Jordan posterized Patrick Ewing, where Willis Reed came limping out of the locker room before Game 7 of the 1970 N.B.A. Finals, and where Ryan Wittman nailed a 30-foot, overtime buzzer beater versus Davidson on Sunday (yes, that moment, in my book, is equal in magnitude to the other two) was truly unforgettable.

Even though my line for the night stood out, all I was really doing was spotting up for wide-open 3-pointers. Like I keep telling anyone who asks, it’s really easy to score when you have talented teammates who draw the attention of the other team and have a knack for making the easy pass when it’s available. My teammates did a fantastic job of making the extra pass and finding me all night.

After trailing by double digits in the first half — thanks to some unbelievable 3-point shooting by St. John’s — we were able to whittle its lead down to 5 at halftime. Though St. John’s is an extremely talented team, we knew our best shot to win would be to stick with the game plan and continue to force the Red Storm to make outside shots.

In the second half, our defensive intensity and focus picked up which lead to stops and easy baskets at the other end. After finally getting the lead midway through the second half, it was back and forth the rest of the way. Up by 2 with 50 seconds left and the ball, we had one of our worst possessions of the half. A deflected pass, a loose ball, pressure defense … nothing seemed to be going right on what was probably the most important possession of the game up until that point. With the shot clock winding down, the sophomore Chris Wroblewski came off a screen as I was cutting up from the corner. As ‘Ski was dribbling over, I told myself that if I caught the ball I would shoot it. Nothing else was happening during the possession, the shot clock was dwindling, and I felt like I couldn’t miss. It didn’t matter that the shot was from behind the confusing white N.B.A. line on the Madison Square Garden court or that the St John’s linebacker-like forward Justin Brownlee was charging at me like Ray Lewis hunting down a running back in the backfield. It just felt natural to let the ball go. And when it came down “moist” (as Miles Asafo-Adjei likes to say) I performed my own hilariously awkward celebration (which was probably premature). But it felt great.

Our team’s mantra for the tournament was “Only in the Garden” and it felt like a season’s worth of magic definitely took place in the hallowed arena this past weekend. The grandeur of the setting, the quality of competition, and the dramatic fashion in which we won both games probably makes those victories the biggest in program history since the 1960 Cornell squad beat a Bill Bradley-led Princeton squad and an Adolph Rupp-coached Kentucky team.

We’re not satisfied though, and obviously in the grand scheme of things, this tournament championship means nothing in terms of the Ivy League. We still have a ways to go, but the wins show we are making progress. Happy Holidays everybody!

Cornell at La Salle Game Preview Center (12.29.09)

Get all the information you need about the Cornell Big Red's game at La Salle on December 29, right here with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center. As the game approaches, we will be adding relevant links to this space. Let us know your thoughts on the upcoming game by either leaving a comment to this post, sending us an email (, or posting a message on The Cornell Basketball Blog's Community Forum (click here).

Go Big Red!

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Cornell Basketball in the News

by Jon Wagner
February 24, 2009

NEW YORK – It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

If anyone figured to beat St. John’s in the annual Holiday Festival, it figured to be Hofstra, which defeated the Red Storm in the Festival title game in 2006, the fourth consecutive time that St. John’s had lost to its cross-town rival.

But, on Sunday, the Red Storm rallied from five points down with just under seven minutes remaining to beat the Pride by twelve, and reach the 2009 Holiday Festival championship game on Monday night.

So, finally getting by the local area nemesis of the current decade (before Sunday, St. John’s was 2-5 against Hofstra this decade after going 19-0 against the Pride previously), playing an Ivy League representative like Cornell figured to be a matchup that would yield St. John’s, appearing in the tournament for the 44th time, its 15th Festival title — especially against a Cornell team which had never won that tournament, and hadn’t played in it since 1970.

Not so fast.

News and Notes: Cornell References All Over NYC Media, Big Red Move into RPI Top 15

Below some news and notes...
  • The Washington Jewish Week writes, "Former Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School basketball star Eitan Chemerinski is learning about life in Division I basketball. Translation: He's still not getting a lot of playing time at Cornell. Chemerinski has appeared in only two of Cornell's 10 games so far. But that's not unusual for a freshman. There are five players on Cornell's team who are in about the same situation as he. He has one rebound, but is still looking for his first points. But he's seeing some good games as Cornell has won six in a row for an impressive 8-2 start. This year is going to be a learning experience for Chemerinski, but it should be a good one."
  • On December 22, Cornell recruit Jake Matthews pumped in 32 points against Highlands High School. Matthews is a 6'3" guard from Greensburg-Salem High School near Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, on December 18, fellow Cornell recruit, Manny Sahota, a 6'6" wing from Brampton, Ontario, scored 14 points for his D'Youville High School team in a loss to Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute.
  • There are some major stories referencing Cornell basketball in the media today. To see the stories, continue reading this post and take the link below.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ESPN's Andy Katz Talks Cornell

From ESPN's Andy Katz in his article, "Don't forget about these conferences":
Favorite in the Ivy: Harvard has been impressive, but Cornell has been impressive of late, winning at Alabama, at UMass and at St. John's. The only two losses for the Big Red were at home to Seton Hall and at Syracuse -- not bad for an Ivy school.
From Katz in his article, "Recapping the season's first six weeks":
Team to keep an eye on come March: Cornell can win a game in the NCAAs if it gets a decent seed. The Big Red has won games away from home against perceived higher-level leagues. Cornell has a shooter in Ryan Wittman and size with 7-footer Jeff Foote. Of course, that's if Cornell can earn the Ivy berth ahead of surging Harvard and Jeremy Lin.

Cornell Gets Mention on Yahoo's "The Dagger"

From Yahoo's Dagger Blog:
Cram Session: Kansas rolls, Big Red rising...

Cornell 71, St. John's 66 -- (This happened Monday, but was too good to ignore.) Our preseason "team to watch", Cornell has a 9-2 record against the 38th strongest schedule in the country. That resume includes wins over Alabama, Massachusetts, St. Joseph's and St. John's. The Big Red don't have to worry about an at-large berth since the Ivy League regular season champion gets the conference's automatic NCAA berth and if Cornell doesn't get that, they probably won't have had a good enough 2010 to warrant such discussion anyway. But if and when they do qualify for March Madness, watch out. The thinking used to be that Cornell could advance with the right match-up. Now I'm thinking they could advance with pretty much any draw.

Cornell Athletics Game Notes for Big Red at La Salle

Game Notes (pdf) I Live Stats I Live Video (La Salle subscription needed) I Buy Tickets I Live Audio (RedCast) I Text Updates I 2009-10 Cornell Information Center I 2009-10 Cornell Statistics I 2009-10 Cornell Roster I 2009-10 Cornell Schedule & Results

Game #12:
Cornell at La Salle
Tip off: Tuesday, Dec. 29, at 4:00 p.m.
Site: Tom Gola Arena (4,000), Philadelphia, Pa.
2009-10 Records: Cornell (9-2, 0-0 Ivy); La Salle (7-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10)
Series Record: Series tied 2-2
Last Meeting: Cornell won 79-70, Dec. 20, 2008 in Ithaca, N.Y.
Radio: 93.5 WVBR-FM (Barry Leonard)
La Salle Web Site:
TV: None
Live Stats: Available at
Live Video: Available at

Cornell Basketball in the News: SlopeTV Analysis of Holiday Festival

By Sam Aleinikoff
December 23, 2009

St. John’s didn’t play their game. Cornell shot lights out. A little used Senior had the game of his life. You can splice it any way you want and call it a fluke.

It seems improbable. An Ivy League team, led by a senior forward who scored a total of 31 points in his first three collegiate years, toppled a Big East squad on the cusp of reviving college basketball in New York City. Improbable, but plausible. Upsets happen in college basketball.

They Said It! Quote to Remember.

"I'm sure it will be Davidson... I can't see Cornell having a's an Ivy League team, c'mon."--WFAN Radio's Mike Francesa, a St. John's alumnus during an interview on December 2 of Tom Pecora, head coach at Hofstra. During the interview, Francessa and Pecora were discussing the December 20-21 Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival. Click here and here to see how Cornell finished against Davidson and St. John's.

News and Notes

Below, some afternoon news and notes...
  • The NJABC AAU team tweets today, "La Salle is going to win a fair amount in the A10 this year. Murray and Green are for real, and Yves is playing great." Cornell faces LaSalle in Philadelphia on December 29. The Explorers boast a quality RPI of No. 67, while Cornell is No. 17. With "Signature Wins"against Alabama, St. John's, UMass and St. Joseph's, as well as good wins against Drexel, Vermont and Davidson, the La Salle game could be the Big Red's final chance to bulk up their tournament resume before the start of Ivy League play. Of course, Cornell also has a very tough game on January 6 at Kansas.
  • Following Cornell's game at La Salle on December 29, the Big Red host the first of two Division III opponents on the 2009-2010 schedule with Penn State Erie visiting on New Year's Eve. The other Division III opponent on the schedule is Cornell's final nonconference game, Clarkson on January 11. Overall, Cornell is playing the NCAA maximum permitted 31 regular season games. Both Division III games offer fans an opportunity to potentially see significant playing time from Cornell's younger players. Cornell's other remaining nonconference games include Bryant, currently 0-11 with an RPI of 344 out of 347 Division I teams, one spot ahead of Penn (0-7, RPI No. 345) and South Dakota (6-5, RPI No. 238).
12.29.09 @La Salle
12.31.09 vs. PSU Behrend
1.2.10 vs. Bryant
1.6.10 @ Kansas (ESPN FC)
1.8.10 @South Dakota
1.11.10 vs. Clarkson
  • In the news, the Bleacher Report ranks Cornell as the No. 2 college basketball team in the state of New York (out of 22 Division I teams), just behind Syracuse.
  • The Washington Times' Patrick Stevens writes that Harvard's "Jeremy Lin is living up to his reputation. It's not often when you're sitting at midcourt when you see someone spot up not too far from the logo in the middle of the floor. Lin did --- and swooshed it easily. Would love to see him go up against Cornell in a meaningful Ivy League game."

Recruiting News

Below, some recruiting news around the Ivy League...

Emmetsburg (IA) 6'8" forward Nick Wuebker told, "South Dakota State has been calling me. The University of South Dakota is also interested but they haven't offered. Cornell University and The Citadel have also been calling." Meanwhile, fellow Iowan, PCM-Monroe 6'2" Josh Fosenburg told IowaPreps, "I've gotten a couple of letters from Cornell University, Upper Iowa, Luther, St. Cloud, and some others ones too."

American University, Cal Poly and Columbia have shown interest in San Jose Bellarmine Prep's Freddie Eberhardt according to He is a 6'3" guard and a member of the class of 2010.

ESPN/ScoutsInc. reports that NJIT, Columbia and Brown are pursuing Luke Matarazzo, a 5'8" point guard from Choate Rosemary Hall in Choate, CT.

The Shot. Wittman's Winner.

A video clip of Ryan Wittman's incredible 30 foot game winning shot against Davidson in overtime at Madison Square Garden is available in this morning's News and Notes post.

Big Red Brackets

Below, The Cornell Basketball Blog monitors the Ivy League's bracket and seeding projections until the 2010 NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday. Listed are links to updated projections of the 2010 NCAA Tournament brackets.

Cornell Basketball in the News

Dele Coker attempts to stop Cornell's Jeff Foote, as D.J. Kennedy watches the play Monday night at Madison Square Garden. Foote scored 19 points and Cornell won, 71-66, in the final game of the Holiday Festival tournament.

It's hard to believe after Sunday and Monday's Broadway-esque theatrics, but a "lack of poise" is what Steve Donahue said kept senior Jon Jaques from cracking Cornell's rotation in his first three seasons.

"He was very erratic," recalled Donahue, now in his 10th season as men's basketball coach. "He would get very frustrated when he'd talk about (mistakes) and he'd beat himself up on things. We had, actually, a sports psychologist talk to our group this year ... and I thought Jon really bought into it."

News and Notes: Video of Wittman Shot, Boeheim Praises Cornell, Big Red RPI at No. 17

Below, some news and notes...
  • “I think they’re very good,” Jim Boeheim told the Syrcacuse Post Standard about Seton Hall. “I think Cornell’s one of the better teams I’ve seen this year, maybe one of the better teams we’ve played. Next to Carolina, I think they’re probably the second-best team we’ve played. (Seton Hall) beat them at Cornell.”
  • Bleacher Report's Jordan Schwartz writes, "The Ivy League already picked up a nice win over the Big East last week, when Cornell upended St. John's at Madison Square Garden."
  • The Denver Post reports that only Cornell, Yale and Denver seriously recruited Denver's star player, Nate Ronhert.

[Harvard coach, Tommy] Amaker has built a basketball program that can live up to the Harvard name, but that doesn't mean an Ivy title is inevitable. Harvard was picked to finish fourth in the league in a preseason media poll. Two-time defending champion Cornell was the unanimous preseason pick and remains the favorite after winning nine of its first 11 games. Cornell owns road wins over Alabama, Massachusetts and St. John's; the Big Red's only losses have come against Seton Hall and Syracuse.

"They've been the best team in our league,'' Amaker said. "They've shown it, proven it and earned it. The majority of their key players are returning. It was an obvious choice. I still think they're the team to beat in our league. We're just hopeful as we continue on our journey to become a first-class winning program, that we're gaining ground and putting ourselves in position to be a contender."

  • To continue reading this post, take the link below.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

News and Notes: Afternoon Edition

Below, some news and notes...

  • Some highlights of Cornell's win at St. John's are posted on News 10 Now.
  • Cornell (currently No. 17 in the RPI) now has two wins over teams in the RPI Top 100 (at No. 8 St. John's and at No. 84 Alabama). The 9-2 Big Red only have defeats against No. 67 Seton Hall and at No. 8 Syracuse. Meanwhile, the Big Red also have quality wins against No. 107 St. Joseph's, at No. 123 Drexel, No. 127 Davidson, at No. 129 UMass and No. 143 Vermont.
  • Jeff Goodman of lists St. John's as his "Dud of the Night." Goodman writes, "St. John’s stay in the Top 25 poll will be short-lived. Let’s face it – there’s no shame in losing to Cornell – especially without two of the Red Storm’s top players, Anthony Mason and Justin Burrell – but we’ve got to hand this award out to someone and St. John’s gets the nod."
  • Below, we post some recent productions from SlopeTV, including post game interviews from the wins over St. Joseph's and Davidson and the St. John's pregame show.

News and Notes: Big Red Move Up to No. 17 in RPI

Below, some news and notes...

The Big East and the Ivy league went head-to-head last night in a pair of games and it took a Providence rally against Yale for the Big East to earn a split of the two games as a short-handed St. John’s team fell to Cornell in the Holiday Festival final at Madison Square Garden...

Cornell 71, St. John’s 66
–The third time is the charm for Cornell as the Big Red finally upended a Big East squad in their three attempts already this season. After falling to Seton Hall (at home) and Syracuse (at the Carrier Dome), the two-time defending Ivy League champion got past St. John’s in last night’s Holiday Festival Final at Madison Square Garden.

Cornell Denies St. John’s Hokiday Festival Title (NY Times) as the Big Red was led by Jon Jaques’s 20 points. Jeff Foote added 19 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks and was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

It was the fourth consecutive season the Red Storm failed to capture the title on the Madison Square Garden floor. Norm Roberts’ squad led by as many ass 11 points early on, but a 13-2 run after halftime by Cornell flipped the game into their favor.

With Anthony Mason Jr. still sidelined with a hamstring injury and Justin Burrell out with an ankle injury, the Redstorm has seen their depth depleted as Quincy Roberts is out because of recurring headaches and likely taking a medical redshirt this season. Dwight Hardy put up a pair of strong outings in MSG over Sunday and Monday, finishing with a team-high 19 points in 19 minutes off the bench in the finals. DJ Kennedy added 15 in the loss.

The Redstorm dominated the boards, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds and winning the overall rebounding battle 39-23. However, poor shooting (hitting just 42% from the field) was the difference as Cornell shot at a 57% clip, including 11-18 from beyond the arc.

  • To continue reading this post, take the link below.

Recruiting News

Below, some recruiting news from around the Ivy League... reports that class of 2011 Lincoln High School's Jordan Nelson, a 5'11" guard is getting interest from Iowa, Lafayette, Princeton, Northern Iowa, Ball State, Evansville, Wichita State, and Western Michigan. reports that Harvard, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Memphis have all offered 6'6" small forward Adonis Thomas of Memphis' Melrose High School. He is a member of the class of 2011.

Nathan Harries, a 6′3″ junior guard at Centennial High School in Alpharetta, Georgia is hearing from Georgia State, Harvard and Princeton among others.

Northfield Mount Hermon's Majok Majok is reportedly visiting Fordham this week. The 6'8" forward is also considering Harvard.

  • To continue reading this post, take the link below.

Big Red Brackets

Below, The Cornell Basketball Blog monitors the Ivy League's bracket and seeding projections until the 2010 NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday. Listed are links to updated projections of the 2010 NCAA Tournament brackets.

Game Recaps: Cornell Takes MSG Holiday Festival Title

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cornell at MSG Holiday Festival Game Preview Center (12.20.09-12.21.09)

Get all the information you need about the Cornell Big Red's games in the Madison Square Holiday Festival between December 20-21, right here, at The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center. As the games approach, we will be adding relevant links to this space. Let us know your thoughts on the upcoming games by either leaving a comment to this post, sending us an email (, or posting a message on The Cornell Basketball Blog's Community Forum (click here).

Go Big Red!


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Around the Rim with Brian Delaney and the Ithaca Journal

In March 2008, I sat at the Honda Center watching UCLA practice before the first rounds of the NCAA tournament. The Bruins' star at that time was freshman Kevin Love, who put on a show hitting half court and full court shots, and making it look entirely too easy.

Love pulled his favorite parlor trick again the next week and became a YouTube sensation.

I thought of those shots immediately after Ryan Wittman swished an estimated 30-footer at the buzzer Sunday afternoon to beat Davidson at Madison Square Garden. Wittman was subsequently named Ivy League player of the week Monday for the third time this season.

Not that Love and Wittman's shots were on par, but just the simple fact that it's easy to forget how exceptionally skilled players at the Division I level are. Wittman doesn't take 30-footers during the course of the game because, obviously, they're not high percentage shots. But that doesn't mean they aren't within his range.

Perhaps the most revealing part of that shot was, in re-watching the video, Wittman simply pulled up and jumped straight into the air at mid-court rather then let his momentum carry him toward the basket like you would see on, for instance, a three-quarter court shot.

It was probably the most memorable you've-got-to-be-kidding-me moment of Wittman's four-year career, but there have been plenty.

He scored 29 points, including three or four huge shots before his game-winner that partially stemmed Davidson rallies. Steve Donahue said recently it's easy to take Wittman's game for granted because he's so consistent. Sunday was another reminder that No. 20, the Ivy League's all-time leading 3-point shooter, will go down as one of the league's great players.

What's really intriguing is the company Wittman's keeping. Jeff Foote's skill set is incredibly rare for a 7-footer, Harvard's Jeremy Lin is electrifyingly good and Columbia's sophomore guard, Noruwa Agho, is a rising star.

Enjoy every minute of what's left of this season -- because as Wittman showed Sunday, it's going to be special.

Three's Company

The tough part about distinguishing yourself as a high-level mid-major is the surrounding talent pool. On Saturday alone, three outcomes -- Old Dominion over then-No. 11 Georgetown, Richmond over then-No. 13 Florida and UMass over Memphis -- exhibit how muddled that next tier of teams really is.

Inside the Ivy

* Another solid showing by Cornell freshman Errick Peck in Sunday's first half. He had eight points in eight minutes, which led to the MSG announcers mistakenly referring to him as a McDonald's All-American (he was a nominee). But it wasn't flawless -- he played one step too far off Brendan McKillop on the final possession of the first half. McKillop drained an NBA-range 3 at the horn that swung momentum to the Wildcats.

* Heading into Monday's St. John's game, Cornell had played eight of its first 10 games on the road, more than any other Ivy team. The Red is 4-1 on the road and 3-0 on neutral courts.

* Jeff Foote's career-high rebounding average has reached 9.4 after Sunday's 14-board outing. He has two of the three highest single-game rebounding totals this year -- 14 and 18 (Bucknell.)

* Harvard will attempt to add to its big win resume with a visit at No. 14 Georgetown on Wednesday. Tip-off is at noon.

* Penn has lost 14 of its last 17 games at the Palestra.

* Three Ivy teams have played a game without hitting a 3-pointer: Penn (lost to Drexel), Dartmouth (lost to Army) and Princeton (beat Monmouth).

ITHACA -- While St. John's is the primary host school for the four-team 2009 Madison Square Garden Holiday Classic, the Red Storm's road to a record 12th Holiday Classic title is expected to be anything but smooth.

The collective talent of participants Cornell (7-2), Davidson (3-7), Hofstra (7-3) and the Red Storm (8-1) add significant punch to a format that has traditionally pitted two upper-level teams against, to put it bluntly, two cupcakes.

"It's going to be a great test for us," said Cornell senior forward Ryan Wittman, the Big Red's leading scorer at 18 points per game. "That's exactly what we want. All three of these teams are going to be very good. I think we're all pretty evenly matched."

Cornell opens with a Davidson program left re-tooling after the departure of All-American guard Stephen Curry to the NBA. Game time is noon on Sunday at the Garden, to be immediately followed by Hofstra-St. John's.

The consolation is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, with the championship immediately after. Sunday's games will be televised locally on the MSG Network.

Cornell is coming off a two-week break for final exams, which ended Friday. The Big Red last played on Dec. 6, beating Saint Joseph's 78-66 at Newman Arena for its fifth straight win and best start through nine games since the 1967-68 season.

Last season, Cornell earned a quality victory over La Salle following finals. True to form in recent years, coach Steve Donahue's focus in practice was mostly defensive.

"This has been a great couple weeks," he said. "We film every practice, we analyze where we are and I think we can get better -- a lot better -- defensively."

The Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival in basketball

Teams: Cornell (7-2), Davidson (3-7), Hofstra (7-3) and St. John's (8-1)

Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York

Sunday's schedule: Cornell vs. Davidson, noon; Hofstra vs. St. John's, 2 p.m.

Monday's schedule: Consolation, 7 p.m.; championship, 9 p.m.

Television: MSG Network (Time Warner Ch. 28).

Probable starters: Louis Dale, Sr., 5-11, G, 10.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 5.0 apg; Chris Wroblewski, Soph., 6-0, G, 10.7 ppg; Ryan Wittman, Sr., 6-7, F, 18.0 ppg; Jon Jaques, Sr., 6-7, F, 3.3 ppg OR Alex Tyler, Sr., 6-7, F, 3.4 ppg; Jeff Foote, Sr., 7-0, C, 13.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg.

Last time out: Wittman scored 17 points, and Wroblewski and Jaques added 15 apiece as Cornell beat Saint Joseph's, 78-66, on Dec. 6 at Newman Arena.

Of note: Cornell has never played Davidson. ... Cornell is 0-2 against the Big East Conference (Syracuse, Seton Hall) this year, and 1-0 against the Colonial Athletic Association (Drexel). ... Foote had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocks vs. St. John's last season.

Probable starters: Jake Cohen, Fr., 6-10, F, 14.3 ppg; Steve Rossiter, Sr., 6-7, F, 6.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg; J.P. Kuhlman, Fr., 6-4, G, 11.7 ppg, .500 3FG; Brendan McKillop, Jr., 6-1, G, 7.1 ppg, 3.8 apg; Will Archambault, Sr., 6-6, G/F, 11.7 ppg.

Last time out: Davidson blasted Division III foe College of New Jersey, 90-49, on Thursday night.

Of note: The Wildcats' schedule has included nationally ranked Butler and Gonzaga, La Salle, South Florida, Rhode Island and Penn State. ... Davidson has already played two Southern Conference games, losing to College of Charleston and beating The Citadel.

Probable starters: Charles Jenkins, Jr., 6-3, G, 19.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg; Nathaniel Lester Jr., 6-5, G, 11.2 ppg; Cornelius Vines Sr., 6-2, G, 8.2 ppg; Miklos Szabo Sr., 6-9, F, 7.7 ppg; Greg Washington Jr., 6-10, F, 7.1 ppg.

Last time out: Jenkins scored 21 points in Hofstra's 75-58 victory over New Hampshire on Dec. 12.

Of note: Vines is a Syracuse native and Henninger graduate. ... Three losses have come to No. 1 Kansas, No. 12 Connecticut and Charlotte. ... Jenkins was named CAA preseason player of the year, along with Old Dominion's Gerald Lee. ... Picked to finish sixth in the 12-team CAA. ... Beat Yale, 68-63, on Nov. 16.
St. John's

Probable starters: D.J. Kennedy Jr., 6-5, G, 16.4 ppg; Sean Evans Jr., 6-8, F, 9.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg; Paris Horne, Jr., 6-3, G, 8.4 ppg; Malik Boothe, Jr., 5-9, G, 5.4 ppg; Justin Brownlee, Jr., 6-7, F, 8.7 ppg.

Last time out: The Johnnies beat Fordham, 73-56 Sunday, at Lou Carnesecca Arena.

Of note: Standout forward Anthony Mason Jr. is out with a lingering hamstring injury. ... Sophomore Quincy Roberts (migraines) will sit out the remainder of the season. ... Forward Justin Burrell is questionable after suffering a high ankle sprain against Duke on Dec. 5. ... Kennedy scored 22 points in an 86-75 victory over Cornell last year.

Mid Major Top 25: Cornell No. 5 for 3rd Straight Week

Each week of the season The Cornell Basketball Blog posts the rankings in the Mid Major Top 25 Poll as voted upon by the nation's mid major coaches on

In the December 21 (week no. 6) edition of the Mid Major Top 25 Poll, Cornell holds onto the No. 5 ranking for the third consecutive week. Cornell's rankings this season are as follows:
During the last two seasons, Cornell was the only Ivy League team to receive recognition in the final results. Cornell concluded 2008-2009 in 29th position after finishing the 2007-2008 season ranked No. 18.

Roughly 200 Division I teams comprise The Mid-Major Poll (out of 347 Division I teams). Eligible teams are from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Continent, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Sun Belt, West Coast.





1. Butler (22) 8-3 748 2
2. Northern Iowa (3) 8-1 708 3
3. Gonzaga (3) 8-3 707 1
4. St. Mary's (2) 9-1 627 4
5. CORNELL 8-2 622 5
6. Western Carolina 10-1 606 8
7. Old Dominion 7-4 568 9
8. Missouri State 10-0 516 12
9. VCU 7-2 499 7
10. Wichita State 10-1 459 20
11. William & Mary (1) 7-2 407 16
12. Akron 7-3 403 15
13. Illinois State 8-2 351 6
14. Murray State 9-2 343 13
15. Siena 6-4 308 14
16. Niagara 7-4 251 17
17. Western Kentucky 5-4 231 11
18. Portland 6-3 197 10
19. Wright State 7-4 183 18
20. Green Bay 10-3 182 23
21. Ohio 7-3 178 NR
22. Detroit 7-4 171 21
23. Northern Colorado 9-3 87 22
24. Harvard 7-2 81 25
25. Long Beach State 6-4 73 24

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Rider 52, Texas San Antonio 50, Hofstra 48, Southern Illinois 40, Coastal Carolina 37, Fairfield 34, George Mason 34, Pacific 30, Morgan State 23, Montana 22, Denver 20, Kent State 20, Indiana State 19, Buffalo 18, Oakland 17, IUPUI 16, Sam Houston State 15, Eastern Michigan 12, Southeastern Louisiana 9, Army 8, South Alabama 8, Bradley 6, Radford 6, South Carolina State 5, Eastern Kentucky 4, Miami, Belmont 3, Loyola 3, San Diego 2, Wofford 2, Iona 1, UC Santa Barbara 1.

VOTING PANEL: Randy Bennett (St. Mary's), Will Brown (Albany), Rick Byrd (Belmont), Dave Calloway (Monmouth), Kermit Davis (Middle Tennessee), Steve Donahue (Cornell), Anthony Evans (Norfolk State), James Fox (Davidson), Mike Gillian (Longwood), Steve Hawkins (Western Michigan), Dick Hunsaker (Utah Valley), Eddie Jackson (American), Kerry Keating (Santa Clara) *, Billy Kennedy (Murray State), Tod Kowalczyk (UW-Green Bay), Jim Larranaga (George Mason), Jim Les (Bradley), Mike Lonergan (Vermont), Bob Marlin (Sam Houston State), Gregg Marshall (Wichita State), Tom Moore (Quinnipiac), Jimmy Patsos (Loyola MD), Tom Pecora (Hofstra), Vann Pettaway (Alabama A&M), Rick Scruggs (Gardner-Webb), John Shulman (Chattanooga), Brad Stevens (Butler), Gary Stewart (UC Davis), Scott Sutton (Oral Roberts), Wayne Tinkle (Montana), Ernie Zeigler (Central Michigan)

* Santa Clara head coach Kerry Keating is the chairman of the Top 25 voting panel for the 2008-09 season.

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

The CollegeInsider.Com Mid-Major Top 25 is now in its eleventh season of existence.