Monday, August 9, 2010

Early Preview to the Big Red Rotation

With the official announcement of Cornell's 2010-2011 roster, below are some of our independent thoughts on a projected playing rotation in the upcoming season. In making these projections, we certainly consider the feedback and reviews that we receive from the dozens of conversations we have with those intimately close to the program. However, please do keep in mind that these projections are in no way official nor do they reflect Head Coach Bill Courtney's thoughts, opinions or decisions.

Centers-Cornell has two clear choices, both seniors, among its returnees to use at center, and both options present very different skill sets. In Mark Coury, the Big Red have a 6'9" 250 lb. defensive and rebounding-minded post presence with a BCS conference level of physicality. Coury is a legitimate candidate for Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. On the offensive end, he is an underrated passer out of the post and can make his teammates around him better, similar to Jeff Foote a year ago. In terms of scoring, Coury's offense mostly comes from cleaning the offensive glass on second chance points. The other center option, Aaron Osgood, brings similar size at 6'9" 230. Osgood runs the floor well and has a soft shooting touch from mid to long range. He is also a capable defender and rebounder. We could see both Coury and Osgood playing an equal number of minutes this season. Their usage could likely be dictated by the opposition's strengths.

Power Forwards-A year ago, Steve Donahue made a strategic decision to open up and space the floor by using a long range shooter in 6'7" Jon Jaques to play the role of power forward. Bill Courtney could very well employ a similar strategy this year in his up-tempo offense, and the front runner at the "4" could be Anthony Gatlin, a 6'8" 200 lb. transfer from Centenary. A wiry-built junior, Gatlin's long-armed frame allows him to rebound and defend effectively, but his guard-like ball handling skills and athleticism also allow him to score the ball off the dribble or pose as a reliable three-point threat from the wing. According to those close to the program, the red-shirt is a legitimate all-conference candidate. If the Big Red want to go smaller at power forward, albeit more physical, the options include 6'6" Errick Peck, a sophomore, or 6'6" Adam Wire, a senior. Like Gatlin, Peck is an inside-outside threat with off-the-charts athleticism. Wire brings a game of toughness that mirrors Coury's, spelling defense and rebounding. Sophomores Josh Figini (6'9") and Eitan Chemerinski (6'8) could make pushes for minutes here as well and are serious candidates for significant minutes next season. Figini might be the most "pure" power forward of the group.

Small Forward-This position could be Max Groebe's to lose. Like Ryan Wittman, the 6'4" Groebe has NBA range on his shot with a very quick release. If given the opportunity, he could emerge as one of the league's leading scorers and was frequently referred to a year ago by insiders as a future all-conference selection. Reserves at small forward include Gatlin, Peck, Wire, as well as 6'7" sophomore Peter McMillan and 6'6" freshmen-- Dwight Tarwater and Manny Sahota.

Shooting Guard-Andrew Ferry, listed by Cornell Athletics at 6'4", Ferry was Cornell's top priority in recruiting during the spring because of his depth of college experience and immediate eligibility. The junior's ability to handle the basketball on the perimeter and score from the outside make him the likely choice to start and earn the most minutes at the second guard. Like Groebe, Ferry is capable of posting big scoring numbers and will stretch the defense beyond the three-point arc. He scored nearly 2o points per game a year ago against junior college competition despite facing the opposition's top defenders game in and game out. Freshman Jake Matthews, a gutsy and flashy 6'2" combo guard could possibly earn some minutes as well. Matthews is expected to be a big part of Cornell's long-term future. But it is more likely that Groebe is used at shooting guard when Ferry is off the floor.

Point Guard-The offense will likely start in All-Ivy League selection, Chris Wroblewski's hands. With sharpshooters like Ferry and Groebe on his wings, Wroblewski will feel less pressure to score the ball and can concentrate on running the team as he did a year ago. Dominic Scelfo, a savvy 6'2" freshman could push for minutes as the primary back-up. Scelfo is not only a talented passer and skilled ball-handler, he is a dangerous shooter from the perimeter. Miles Asafo-Adjei, remains the team's top perimeter defender while former walk-on Jonathan Gray rounds out the point guard rotation.

SUMMARY: The Cornell Basketball Blog's Early Projected Starting Five and Top Reserves:


C Mark Coury 6'9" Sr.
PF Anthony Gatlin 6'8" Jr.
SF Max Groebe 6'4" Jr.
SG Andrew Ferry 6'4" Jr.
PG Chris Wroblewski 6'0" Jr.

Top Reserves

F Errick Peck 6'5" So.
C Aaron Osgood 6'9" Sr.
F Adam Wire 6'6" Sr.
PG Dominic Scelfo 6'2" Fr.


Anonymous said...

there is no way Errick Born Ready Peck does not start.

Anonymous said...

Why would the only freshman to break into a senior dominated Sweet 16 caliber lineup come off the bench?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

This is merely a projection.

But if you want to debate upsides-downsides, who do you take out of the above line-up?

Groebe is the team's best shooter.

Gatlin is long, athletic, 6'8" and shot over 38% from beyond the arc the last two seasons.

Hard to make cases against any of these guys.

Anonymous said...

Despite Gatlin's athleticism and Groebe's shooting, I don't think I'd be going out on a limb saying that Peck is a better player than both of them. Very unlikely Peck doesn't start IMO.

Anonymous said...

What about slotting Groebe into SG spot and Peck at SF, and using Ferry off the bench? Wrobo and Groebe are two of the best 3pt shooters in the Ivy, and if Ferry is as good as people say, he can sub in for one of the two at any time and CU wouldn't lose much from beyond the arc. Peck in the starting lineup would give CU better rebounding/athleticism.

Anonymous said...

If Coach Courtney is going with "40 minutes of hell", there will be alot of playing time to go around. The starting line up looks strong on shooting - the question will be can they play defense.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

This is all a good problem to have if you are a Cornell fan, but consider the following:

Gatlin played his first two seasons at the Division I level at Centenary. Granted the Gents are not a very good D-I program, but they were still D-I and better than some Ivy teams. (How many Ivies can beat Texas Tech and/or Louisiana Tech?) With Cent., Gatlin managed to START 27 combined games as just a FRESHMAN and SOPHOMORE. He also hit for double figures in ten D-I games.

These numbers mean something. He is certainly good enough to start at any Ivy program this year as a red-shirt junior.

As for the suggestion of starting Groebe at shooting guard, there is the issue of not having a secondary ball handler. Max gives you size in the backcourt, but you lose some ball handling. This is not a knock against Max, but he just doesn't have the on-the-ball skills of a point guard.

The last two years Cornell had Gore, Dale and Wroblewski as "combo guards" that can play off the ball or on the ball interchangeably. But Groebe doesn't fit into that mold. He is closer to a Ryan Wittman type catch and shoot guy.

For this reason, if Courtney follows last season's formula, we expect Cornell to use Wroblewski-Ferry and possibly either Sceflo, Matthews or Asafo-Adjei in a three guard rotation in the backcourt.

Groebe is your wing forward, with Peck and Wire sliding back and forth as combo forwards.

Gatlin looks too good to sit.

Anonymous said...

this is a different year and different team we don't have to use last years formula...Peck + Groebe > Ferry + Groebe

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Ferry is among the team's three best ball handlers and three best shooters.

He is a rare package, like Wroblewski. Money is on Ferry starting.

Guy rang up 20 per game on very good JuCo competition.

Anonymous said...


Not two months ago, I made a comment that Groebe's handle was weaksauce and that it wasn't good enough for him to be a secondary ballhandler. CBB immediately made an extremely defensive argument in Groebe's favor (surprised?).

Anonymous said...

Errick Born Ready Peck will most definitely start......
for the AARDVARKS.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Our comments in this string related to Groebe's "handle" are relative comparisons to the ball-handling skills of smaller, quicker guards like Wroblewski, Ferry and Scelfo.

Groebe has a good handle for a forward, as did Reeves. But Cornell has better ball handling options for the backcourt.

Our small forward should be a guy that can fill Wittman's shoes and score the three-ball in a catch and shoot situation and help space the floor out. Groebe can be that guy. In fact, Groebe can be just as deadly as Wittman.

Our second guard should also be able to score off the ball, and handle the ball if need be--- and Ferry is that guy.

This leaves us with the open power forward slot. Sure, we could go with Errick Peck or Adam Wire. But those guys are in the 6'6" range and would be matched up against taller and possibly stronger competition each game.

Our call is for Gatlin because he has a frame that can defend taller players. On the offensive end, he is Cornell's best shooting forward.

Despite these starting line-ups, we'd project Osgood, Peck, and Wire to see MAJOR minutes.

Anonymous said...

There is no way Peck doesn't start. Sorry, but it's going to be him over Gatlin.

Anonymous said...

It's clear that posters are biased towards the people they saw play last year, with no real clue about the incoming talent. Remember when Tyler and Reeves were given starters with no arguments - then came along Wrobo and Jacques. My money is on CBB's overall review of ALL available players. Hopefully they will all bust hump in practice to get minutes like they should.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Curious if anyone recalls reading Jon Jaques' comments about Gatlin earlier in the summer.

And if Peck is coming off the bench, then Cornell definitely has a talented team.

Let us all hope the newcomers PUSH the vets for playing time.

Competition can be healthy, so long as your roster doesn't have 23 players on it.

Anonymous said...

Former asst. coach Kevin App had the lineup with Peck instead of Gatlin, according to Brian Delaney's latest blog post.

Gatlin better be the second coming if he's gonna start before Peck; that's all I'm saying. I honestly think Peck can be one of the best players we've ever had, but that won't happen if we don't give him serious minutes. We need to keep him exercised & satisfied.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Fair point about App, but he was not the only coach with an opinion. They all had their favorites.

q'nis said...

I like a Coury-Gatlin-Peck-Groebe-Wrobo lineup. I haven't seen Ferry play other than on video, but I'd switch him and Groebe if he turned out to be better. Peck needs to start. He was pretty effective last year, but I think he would improve exponentially with more minutes.

UofA said...

I can see this pretty much as an argument between CBB and Anonymous but you gotta understand Peck will be insane in the Ivy's. Yeah, right now he might not be "as good" as Ferry or Gatlin, but the kid is a hell of a good athlete. I go to school at Arizona, and I got to see him play back in New York during break, and he has probably more athleticism then most Pac-10 players I see out here. I have a STRONG feeling he is going to humiliate some players in the Ivy. (Remember, basketball isn't coming down anymore to how good of a shooter or a ball handler you are, yet how good of an athlete you are)You can't forget Peck was 2 or 3 inches away from a BCS scholarship, let alone probably starting this year or next year at a BCS.

line up is prolly gonna be:
C - Coury
PF - Peck
SF - Gatlin
SG - Grobe
PG - Wrobo

Its pretty clear this is gonna be Wrobo's team this year, so I'm excited to see what he can do. Peck will definitely start whether it will be at the 3 or 4, you are crazy to think not too. Gatlin will be the big question in my opinion, he can fit that flex position so well. Remember, even Gatlin could probably play down low during Ivy play. You gotta realize the Ivy has no good Centers this year, he would probably do just fine in a Zone.

Not At The Table Carlos said...

Blogman: Will we see Josh "Big Fruit" Figini splashing any jumpers this year?

TJ said...

TJ says Coury-Gatlin-Peck-Ferry-Wrobo. Max is sniper off the bench. at 2 or 3. Peck can slide up to 4. Gatlin can slide down to 3. Lot of options for mix-and-match.

Anonymous said...

I want to see Gatlin and Peck manning both forward positions together at the same time. Talk about matchup nightmare for the defense.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Gatlin and Peck together would definitely create an athletic frontline with a pair of forwards that can throw it down. But... Cornell would also give up some three-point shooting.

A year ago, Peck shot 33% from beyond the arc and 39% from the floor. He needs to improve those numbers (and should).

But do you want to lose Groebe's ridiculous ability to hit 56% from deep? Groebe forces the defense to play him tight or pay dearly.

Meanwhile, Gatlin has played two seasons of Division I basketball and in both seasons, he shot better than 38% from beyond the arc. He is also a career 43% shooter from the floor. You might not find a more dangerous "4" in the Ivy League.

Because he is long-armed, 6'8" and has a pretty good handle for a big guy (about as competent with the ball as a Wittman or Reeves, but 3" taller), he can create mismatch problems for opponents at the "4" spot. He can take opposing defenders away from the basket--- and gives Cornell a 4th perimeter scoring threat when paired with guys like Wroblewski, Ferry, Groebe, Scelfo or Matthews.

The most comparable player in the Ivy is Kareem Maddox, but Gatlin is a better ball handler on the perimeter.

On the minus, Gatlin needs some consistency... but he has had some very big games as a young buck...

As a red-shirt junior, you have to really like his upside.

With Peck, he was 2" too short to play in the Big Ten as a power forward. If he can develop a reliable three-point shot, he could be a player of the year candidate as a small forward in the Ivy League. His freshman season performance was very, very promising.

Anonymous said...

Over the first 20 or so games, Peck made only 2 out of 13 attempts at three. In the last few games, he made 4 out of 5 attempts. It was a small number of attempts but a noticeable improvement.

Art Vandalay said...

I think it's silly to pencil Ferry in as a starter before he has one Cornell practice under his belt. For the time being, Groebe is, IMO, the starting shooting guard, which is his natural position (as much as you love him at small forward)

This lineup



Which one would you take?
The first is more athletic, maybe a little worse at three point shooting, but ARO, Gat, Peck, and Groebe you have 4 tremendous athletes, good size, good shooting, and then Ski leading the way at point. Unless Ferry blows people away, I think Max is your starting SG and Peck and Gat are both in starting lineup. Even if the 3 point shooting isn't what we are accustomed to seeing, this is the best possible team we can put on the floor

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

The line up we projected is based on the preferences of the prior coaching staff--- it maximizes shooting and ball handling abilities without giving up too much defense.

Groebe can certainly play the shooting guard, but if he does play there, you give up some ball handling, speed and you may not get the slashing abilities that guys like Ferry, Scelfo and Matthews might bring to the table as the second guard. What you gain in Groebe as a guard is size in the backcourt.

With Peck, you can play him at the "4" but you lose some size. At the "3" you lose some shooting ability. What you gain is high motor, toughness, and athleticism. This is a common issue with "tweener" players.

In past seasons, Cornell's backcourt was small, with both guards able to play the point. These guards were namely Dale, Wrobo and Gore.

If Courtney keeps the formula, you'll see Wrobo, Ferry and a third, likely Scelfo or Matthews. This is also the personnel best suited to run and push the ball.

In past seasons, Cornell's "3" was an offensive-minded perimeter shooter-- namely Wittman or Reeves. Groebe is the most natural continued fit. He is also the most natural "3" for a transition shooting game.

In past seasons, Cornell's "4" was usually a perimeter threat-- namely Jason Hartford and Jon Jaques.

If Courtney sticks to the formula-- you could see guys like Gatlin or Figini playing this position. You get shooting without giving up the size on the frontline.

While Cornell can certainly go with Groebe in the backcourt and Peck at either forward, recognize that, for better or worse, this unit would be a radical departure from the "core five" that Cornell has used in past seasons.

Suspect we could see several different line-ups in November.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that if Cornell wishes to contend for the Ivy League title year, Errick Peck is going to have to be the best player on the team. That means he needs to play 30 minutes a night between the 3 and the 4. Whether he starts or not matters less, but I can just about guarantee that he'll be out there finishing games for the Big Red next season.

Anonymous said...

Its funny you talk about the personnel best suited to run and push the ball and don't mention Miles. He is easily the most athletic and quickest guard on the team. Miles will push for minutes.

Jacob said...

Peck has to start. Has to. I don't care if its at the 3 or the 4, but he has to start. If I'm coaching him, I'd try to turn him into a poor man's Marquis Blakely.

Coury, Peck and Wroblewski should be locks in my opinion. Gatlin, Wire, Groebe and Ferry can battle it out for the other two spots.