Thursday, August 5, 2010

News and Notes: Thursday Edition

Below, some news and notes...
  • In updating recent news with Bucknell alumni, Bucknell University Athletics notes, "in June, Bill Courtney '92 was named head coach at Cornell, which is coming off a run to the Sweet Sixteen. Courtney, a Bucknell Athletics Hall of Famer and No. 8 scorer in program history, begins his first head coaching job after a long career as an assistant coach at American, Bowling Green, George Mason, Virginia and Virginia Tech."
  • The Tiger Blog discusses the balling skills of some of the Ivy League's administrators and coaches. The site notes, "Cornell's new head coach, Bill Courtney, was a two-time first-team All-Patriot League selection at Bucknell, while AD Andy Noel, though a wrestler, seems like he could probably play a little basketball."
  • Penn's roster for 2010-2011 will consist of 23 players. The online roster of returning Quaker players has 14 players listed. The Quakers also announced an additional recruiting class of 8 players. But Penn's roster may increase beyond these 22 players. A 23rd player is expected to participate in both track & field and basketball, although the Athletics Department is listing him under the track recruits. By comparison, Penn's men's soccer team, which must put 11 players on the field at a time, has roughly the same size roster with 25 players.
  • The Harvard Crimson writes, "It’s hard to believe, but over at Cornell there are apparently other sports played besides basketball. Dempsey Quinn, a senior safety on the Big Red’s football squad, was recently named to the FCS Senior Scout Bowl preseason All-America second team. Last season, Quinn finished with 92 tackles, three forced fumbles, and an interception. But Quinn wasn’t the only Ivy Leaguer named to the All-America team. Harvard’s own safety—captain Collin Zych—was selected to the FCS Senior Scout Bowl preseason All-America first team. Granted, if Cornell basketball God Ryan Wittman had decided to play football, we all know he would have beaten out Zych for that first team spot."
  • We've noted it before, but will mention the news again. A commemorative book on Cornell's impressive 2009-2010 season is close to final publication. The book includes behind the scenes photos and stories that even the most dedicated Cornell fans have probably never viewed or heard. We will be posting all of the details on how to obtain a copy.
  • Brian Delaney of the Ithaca Journal comments as follows on Cornell's schedule and recruiting class, both of which were previously posted here on The Cornell Basketball Blog. Following Delaney's comments in the next bullet point, we add some additional comments and thoughts from our side:
After months of quiet on the college basketball front, at least in Ithaca, Cornell has released its 2010-11 schedule and incoming freshman class. It's a vacation weekend for me, so right now, I'll post links to both releases and give a brief reaction to both sides. When I get back, I'll be sitting down with Bill Courtney to gauge his thoughts on as many possible aspects of Cornell basketball as I can think of. If you have specific questions you'd like to have asked, shoot me an e-mail at Can't promise I'll get to all of them, but I'll try.

Here's the schedule release.

Here's the incoming class release.

First, the schedule, which was put together entirely by Steve Donahue and his staff. The remaining Big East game is probably at the Carrier Dome. Courtney could not yet comment on the game, but Cornell-Syracuse in 2010-11 is a safe bet. The difficulty level went down after a really challenging 2009-10. Cornell could end up playing as many as five teams from the America East (Stony Brook, Boston U, Binghamton, Albany and potentially New Hampshire at the VCU tournament). Atlantic 10 opponents decreased from three last season (LaSalle, St. Joe's, UMass) to one this year (St. Bonaventure). No SEC opponent (Alabama) or Big 12 opponent (Kansas), and Big East opponents decreased from three last year (Seton Hall, St. John's, Syracuse) to two this year (Seton Hall, TBD). One area of note is that where Cornell played two D-III schools last season, there's no such matchup this year.

I would have liked to see one more heavyweight on the 2010-11 schedule, but these things never come out the way coaches want them to, so maybe Donahue would agree with me. But the softening of the schedule was, in my view, a necessity. It'll be important for next year's young group to play some winnable games early for the obvious reasons of enhancing both confidence and chemistry. The likes of Albany/Delaware/St. Bona/Lehigh/Boston U/Binghamton/Bucknell does exactly that. It's a shame for the locals that, just like last year, 13 of the first 19 games are on the road - but Cornell's having a heckuva time trying to convince teams to travel to Ithaca.

On the incoming class: I had more than a couple conversations with Donahue's staff on the new guys, conversations that are essentially embargoed from being published until today - when the schools announce the class themselves. (The Ivy's policy is coaches can't comment on recruits until that first semester deposit is received. It's the nature of life when covering non-scholarship schools.)

So here's a quick breakdown of those five based on brief conversations with Donahue's assistants. Keep in mind Bill Courtney's evaluations are sure to be different, and we haven't sat down to talk about the new guys yet. (Although keep in mind, all of these guys are considered intelligent basketball players, so it goes without saying; also, I may change/add/detract things after seeing these guys live this fall.)

Andrew Ferry, Jr., 6-4/190 guard: Consensus was a terrific shooter who should be able to make an immediate impact. Was constantly compared to Adam Gore because of his toughness. Kevin App once said he could foresee a lineup of Wroblewski, Ferry, Groebe, Peck and Coury, backed by a deep bench, being a matchup nightmare in the Ivies.

Jake Matthews, Fr., 6-2/165 guard
Dominic Scelfo, Fr., 6-3/185 guard: These guys kind of go together in my mind because both could help quickly but minutes at the guard position may be tough to come by. Also, depending on who you talked to, a coach liked one slightly more than the other; then another coach would say the exact same things and take the other guy as slightly better. It was like watching the winds change. Physically Matthews needs to add weight, Scelfo is probably a little more physically ready for this level of ball. Both can shoot, handle, etc. Neither is expected to be a guy who doesn't seen the court for four years.

Manny Sahota, Fr., 6-5/195 forward: Probably the rawest player of the newcomers. ... can play above the rim, good mid-range shot, hard worker, can evolve into a physical presence. Sahota felt like the toughest player to project, simply because he's got a lot of growth in front of him.

Dwight Tarwater, Fr., 6-6, 210 forward: Woody Kampann said Tarwater's a similar player to Errick Peck, which I take as a nice compliment. Of the freshmen, my sense was he might be the most ready to make an impact. But with the level of depth Courtney has on his plate this year, predicting who plays and who doesn't at this stage of the summer is an excercise in futility. He's an inside-out guy, could be an undersized 4 who posts up and can bring his defender away from the basket. Tenacious rebounder, strong athlete.

Obviously, it's a small class. With Mark Coury and Aaron Osgood set to graduate this coming May, the lack of size in this group puts significant pressure on Josh Figini and Eitan Chemerinski to develop quickly. Transfers were always an option under Donahue, and Courtney may look at the previous successes and try and go that route too. A little early to tell though.

As always, this kind of speculative writing - although based on conversations with coaches - should be taken with a grain of salt, but the previous administration liked this class.
  • In a follow-up to Delaney's comments in the Ithaca Journal, we note some of the following. On the schedule: Yes, the coaching staffs did pursue other BCS level games, but date/time/location conflicts and other critical criteria caused some of these proposed games not to materialize. At various points last season, Cornell had tentative agreements to face Penn State and South Carolina. The latter even had agreed to visit Cornell. Both of these games could potentially happen next season. On the recruiting class: we've heard over and over that the trio of guards, Matthews, Scelfo and Ferry are the league's best as a unit. Matthews and Scelfo both bring the ability to create their own shots, drive into the lanes as well as shoot from long-range. More importantly, both are tough kids and good defenders. Ferry has improved tremendously since high school and is ready to contribute immediately after posting monsterous shooting numbers in the juco ranks. against better-than-high school level competition More than a dozen Division I programs tried to sign him during the late recruiting period and he is considered an All-Ivy candidate. On the topic of transfers, we can verify that the current staff has and will pursue transfers. Although Bill Courtney's staff did receive a verbal commitment from a transfer during June, the student-athlete was unable to matriculate due to academic entrance requirements and will return to his current college/team. He remains a strong possibility for Cornell next season as he continues to explore transferring.


Anonymous said...

I think the schedule is unintentionally timid, agreeing with Delaney that it'd be nice to see a few tougher teams, & agreeing with CBRF that the less taxing nature of the schedule was likely influenced by teams withdrawing.

The impression I got on twitter from many Cornell buddies as one of deflation after seeing next year's schedule -- that aims will be low next year, that we might fall back into oblivion. I know we have some rebuilding to do but I wonder if some are focusing too much on that instead of the five returning players who can already play (Wrobo, Wire, Coury, Peck, & Groebe) and the few transfers who look like they can (Ferry, Gatlin) and some other guys who look promising (Osgood). These fellows do need to face some easier teams as a chance to build chemistry but also I think they deserved a more challenging schedule and need higher ambitions than just getting by next year. It is not the entire team that needs rebuilding, we already have five or six good players & just need four or five more to step up. In fact IMHO the upperclassmen are few but are ALL good & the rising non-Peck soph can't possibly all be useless, so the team next year better aim to be a good team by any standard.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Again, the schedule was designed by Donahue and Graham.

Harvard is playing a very tough schedule and they must deal with a major blow in the loss of Jeremy Lin.

Anonymous said...

Please God let there be a red-white scrimmage this year

Anonymous said...

It's kind of odd that during this pre-season, people have been hanging on Ferry's jock and sleeping on Groebe. The way people are talking, you would think Ferry would step right into the starting 2 spot, which I think is a mistake.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I'm not sure why some folks can be so down on this coming year. Wrobo, Coury, Peck, and Wire all saw serious playing time last year, even during the NCAAs. Sure we lost the big three and Jaques... but these other guys know the system. The true wild card for me is the coaching situation. Will these guys have to learn a totally new system and throw away what comfort they may have gained last year?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with both Anon's:
2:09, and 3:43.
I think alot of people are selling Groebe short; based on what? The guy can shoot lites out. And the continued push of Ferry into the starting lineup is both unfair to Ferry, and to the rest of guards who already been here.

With all the hype of Ferry, Sceflo,& Matthews: people are gonna wonder if wrobo is even going to see the floor!!

Agreed, the true unknown to this team ia the coaching staff. But, we have to have faith, that they will push the right buttons.

Anonymous said...

I'm worried about the coaching change and the absence of a truly big center.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Groebe could likely start at small forward next season. Playing him at guard would require him to handle the ball more and defend quicker players. He seems like a better fit on the frontline.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason some sell Groebe short is that it is tough to see exactly where he fits in. He isn't a great ball handler which is a problem if he plays the 2 and I have a tough time with CBRF's idea that he plays the 3. I don't recall him playing around the basket at all last year- spot up shooter beyond the arc- and I don't think he's big enough at the 3, especially with the concern of ANON 6:26 with which I agree. Maybe Groebe could play the 3 with Foote at center, but not with an undersized center. We usually had the biggest guy on the court last year; we won't this year. Groebe is a great shooter so you want to get him on the court, but I think Donahue had the same problem last year figuring out exactly where to play him.

Anonymous said...

6:26 anon has it right imo. No matter how good these other guys may prove to be, the missing presence of Jeff Foote will be extremely difficult to overcome.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Agreed that Foote is a tremendous loss. But there are no dominant big men in the Ivy League. Cornell will merely be on the same ground as the rest of the league.

The Ivy title this year will go to the team that defends the best and has the best guard play.

Jeff Foote was a once in a decade (or two decades) type of player.