Friday, August 27, 2010

News and Notes: Friday Edition

Below, some news and notes for Friday...
  • The HoopsReport.com ranks potential Cornell 2010-2011 opponent, VCU as the No. 46 team in the nation.
  • Brian Delaney of the Ithaca Journal reports below:

Steve Donahue has spent the past several months acclimating to his new high-profile, high-pressure job as Boston College men's basketball coach, but he still made it a point to assist four of his former players in their search for professional playing opportunities in the NBA and overseas.

When Ryan Wittman signed Wednesday with Forli of the Italian second division, Lega 2, it marked the final decision to be made by one of Donahue's former Cornell standouts. Louis Dale signed with BC Goettingen in Germany, while Jeff Foote (Maccabi Tel Aviv) and Jon Jaques (Ironi Ashkelon) inked deals with Israeli teams.

"In a lot of ways, all four made really good decisions," Donahue said by phone Thursday. "In terms of where they're at, the type of coaches they're playing for, the cities they're living in, the style of play. It fits every one of them. The guys did the right thing, took their time, had good representation, and in the long run it helps -- those three in particular: Louis and Jeff and Ryan -- to keep improving.

"Eventually, their hope is they can compete and improve their game to get to their goal of playing in the NBA or at the highest of levels and make this a really successful career."

Wittman said Italy was one of his preferences when he and his agent, Cleveland-based Mark Termini, began exploring opportunities abroad. Wittman's father, Randy, now an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards who is well-connected throughout professional basketball, played an important role in the decision.

"I had different opportunities throughout the whole process. We were waiting for the best option and this was probably it," Wittman said.

One of Termini's clients, Earl Boykins, played in Bologna, which is about a 40-minute drive from Forli.

"I think at the beginning of the process, if we had a choice to go (abroad), Italy would be a top option from the standpoint of the culture of the country and it being westernized a little bit and just generally being a great place," Wittman said. "I felt pretty comfortable. Basketball's really prestigious over there."
  • It is not even September and injuries are already a mounting concern for the Big Red, especially in the backcourt. Andrew Ferry, the 6'4" shooting guard transfer out of Valparaiso and Palm Beach State College injured his wrist while playing for a travel club in China this summer. Ferry could be back on the court in weeks or out of preseason practices altogether, depending on the effectiveness of his rehab. Another new recruit, incoming freshman, 6'3" Jake Matthews injured his hand during scrimmaging at Cornell's Elite Camp back in June. He only recently started training again, but did miss some valuable offeason time this summer on the court. Finally, 6'0" incoming freshman point guard, 6'1" Dominick Scelfo, is still just beginning to come back to full form after suffering what could have been a career ending knee injury while on a recruiting visit to Saint Louis last October. Just as with Adam Gore ('09), the big concern for Scelfo is avoiding future, recurring knee injuries.
  • Echoing what was already reported by Delaney earlier this summer, the prior staff had early projections of a 2010-2011 starting line-up consisting of, "[Chris] Wroblewski, [Andrew] Ferry, [Max] Groebe, [Errick] Peck and [Mark] Coury, backed by a deep bench." Players repeatedly mentioned as "in the hunt" for starting roles or key reserve minutes included Aaron Osgood, Adam Wire, Anthony Gatlin, Josh Figini, Eitan Chemerinski, as well as three of the freshmen, Matthews, Scelfo and Dwight Tarwater. With respect to Ferry and Groebe, both players were said to interchangeable at the 2 and 3 positions, while Gatlin and Chemerinski were viewed as 4s in the Donahue system, with Figini playing some 4 and 5. Of course, with the coaching change, Delaney cautioned, "[k]eep in mind Bill Courtney's evaluations are sure to be different," so every player on the roster could have a chance to break through in the new regime. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that the former staff truly believed they had a championship caliber roster and while expectations this season among fans of the team should be tempered and kept in check, there is definitely some young and unseen talent in Ithaca and the road to the Ivy League Championship still may have to go through Newman Arena.
  • Speaking of the new recruits, the prior staff reportedly deemed this class the best they ever recruited at Cornell. Of course, this is taking Jeff Foote out of the equation of the class' of '10, since he later transferred in from St. Bonaventure.
  • The new Cornell coach staff of head coach Bill Courtney, and his assistants, Marlon Sears, Jay Larranaga and Ricky Yahn have been very active on the recruiting scene and have been involved with both transfers as well as rising high school seniors in the class of 2011 (not to mention underclassmen in classes of 2012 and 2013).

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