Sunday, September 12, 2010

News and Notes: Late Sunday Edition

Below, some news and notes....
  • Ryan Wittman has been in Italy less than a week but has already seen exhibition action with his Italian Lega2 club, Fulgor Libertasi Forli. On Saturday, Wittman finished with 9 points after shooting 1/7 from beyond the arc in Forli's 86-83 win over Tezenis. On Sunday, Wittman scored 5 points in Forli's 73-68 defeat to Igea Barcellona. Former Penn State star, Joe Crispin scored 22 points for Barcellona. Wittman has only had three practice sessions with his new team. Below, Ryan Wittman poses for media photos with Forli coach, Giampaolo Di Lorenzo.

Sports Outlook

“Charging toward the net, he scores! It is a storybook ending for the Duke seniors!” These words marked the end of my experience as a Cornell sports fan for the 2009-2010 season. Yes, Duke won the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse National Championship. No, they were not even playing the Cornell in that game. But I was there wearing my bright red Cornell t-shirt, cheering on nobody (that’s a lie, I was screaming my head off for the Blue Devils, I couldn’t stand listening to that incessant “Victory March,” not to mention I was still bitter that the Irish had eliminated my beloved Red two days before) and watching another great college sports season come to a close.

The 2009-2010 season was quite the season for Cornell sports. The men’s basketball team made it to the Sweet Sixteen, men’s lacrosse went to the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship in Baltimore, the men’s hockey team won the ECAC and the football team finished the season with a better record than the St. Louis Rams. And that is just to list the results of a few Cornell sports teams. As the 2010-2011 school year arrives, Cornell fans and students will be happy to know that they should have another action-packed year of Big Red sports.

Unfortunately, the fall season is probably the least cared about of Cornell’s three seasons, with most students and townies gearing up for the upcoming hockey and basketball seasons. However, the football team has always managed to draw large crowds in the past and this year should be no exception. Last year the team finished with a disappointing 2-8 (1-6 Ivy League) record. Hopefully this year will be different and the team will be able to benefit from the hiring of new head coach Kent Austin, who comes to Cornell following a two-year stint as offensive coordinator at Ole Miss and five years as a coach in the Canadian Football League.

Cornell sports really start heating up when the snow begins to gather in piles behind Lynah Rink. With the fall season comes the return of Ithaca’s favorite sports team: Cornell men’s ice hockey. Last year, the Big Red finished in the top 10 nationally, winning the ECAC, but failed to advance past the first round of the NCAA tournament after a disappointing loss to the University of New Hampshire. With that loss came the loss of six seniors, three of whom have signed contracts with NHL clubs (Colin Greening-Ottawa, Brendon Nash-Montreal and Ben Scrivens-Toronto), and junior Riley Nash, who signed with Carolina.

However, we will be replacing those six seniors with six new and highly talented players. Perhaps the most talked about of those six players is incoming freshman goalie Andy Iles (an Ithaca native), who, in the footsteps of men’s lacrosse goalie A.J. Fiore, will be playing for his hometown Big Red. Iles played his last season with the United States Under-18 National Team, the very same national team that took down the Red, 3-2, at Lynah last October and won gold at the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 World Championship. Another notable player joining this year’s squad is Belarus native, Kirill Gotovets, who has already been drafted by Tampa Bay and spent last winter playing for Belarus at the IIHF World Championship in Germany (playing against then Cornell student and German citizen, Justin Krueger).

The Red looks to have another great season in store for it this year. In addition to their regular ECAC opponents, the team will be welcoming the UNH Wildcats, the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Alabama in Huntsville to Lynah for regular season games. As for the preseason, the Red has two match-ups scheduled, the first with the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, the second being another anticipated showdown with the United States U18 National Team.

Although hockey has traditionally been the most popular of Cornell sports (an understatement, to say the least), at the height of last year’s tragic Ithaca winter, there was one team that was able to raise the spirits of all Cornell students: the men’s basketball team. While the university was scrambling to curb student suicides by erecting fences on campus bridges, the basketball team was busy winning the Ivy League (for the third year in a row) and playing in the NCAA Tournament, where, as anyone who somewhat follows American sports will know, they made it through to the Sweet Sixteen, taking down No. 5 Temple and No. 4 Wisconsin, before falling to No. 1 Kentucky.

Whenever a great season ends, a new season begins. Cornell’s new season started a bit prematurely as, soon after taking the team to the Sweet Sixteen, head coach Steve Donahue accepted the head coaching position at Boston College, taking assistant coach Nat Graham, as well as his 2009-2010 Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award, with him. With Donahue’s departure, basketball season started a little early as the university launched a search to find a new head coach. With Graham in Chestnut Hill, the university decided to start anew and hired Bill Courtney, then assistant coach at Virginia Tech. However big the shoes left by Donahue may be, Courtney looks to be just the man to fill them. Before joining the Hokie family, Courtney spent eight years as an assistant at George Mason, playing a key role in helping to recruit the class that brought the No. 11 Patriots to the Final Four in 2006. Given that the difference in recruiting is often a major factor in keeping Ivy League teams from being majorly competitive in certain sports, Courtney’s experience will be an asset to the Cornell program.

In addition to Donahue and Graham, there will be several other faces absent on the court at Newman Arena this fall. With the end of the 2009-2010 season, Cornell lost nine seniors, including standout players Louis Dale, John Jaques, Ryan Wittman and big man Jeff Foote. (However, their basketball careers are not over yet, as all three have already signed professional contracts, with Dale going to BC Göttingen (Germany), Jaques to Ironi Ashkelon (Israel) and Foote to Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) while Ryan Wittman signed a summer contract with the Boston Celtics).

When the spring sports season officially begins at Cornell, it is more than likely that there will be at least a foot of snow on the ground and the temperature will be well below freezing. That will not be a deterrent to the men’s lacrosse team, who are used to dealing with the elements as they prepare for their season. Perhaps the most storied of current Cornell teams (there are many rumors about how tough their off-season training is), the lacrosse team has been extremely consistent as of late, ending the last two seasons with a trip to the final four. Unfortunately, during the off-season, the team suffered the same type of loss as the basketball team, losing head coach Jeff Tambroni to Penn State.

Unlike the basketball team, however, the lacrosse team should look much the same, as it has retained quite a few of its outstanding players and also promoted from within, making former associate head coach Ben DeLuca the Richard M. Moran Head Coach of Men’s Lacrosse. That being said, the team will still need to fill large gaps left by the graduation of 2010 senior standouts Pierce Derkac, Ryan Hurley and Austin Boykin. Look for these vacancies to be filled by seniors David Lau and Max Feely, as well as by junior All-American (First-Team 2010), Ivy League Player of the Year (2010) and Jack Turnbull Award winner (2010) Rob Pannell.

While there are many great Cornell sports teams, this article has only focused on four of the most popular. Be sure to check out any and all Cornell teams, as the athletes all put in a great deal of time and effort in order to be successful at what they do. Some of the more successful in the past have been the women’s ice hockey (national runner-up 2010), women’s lacrosse, baseball, softball and wrestling (national runner-up 2010, ranked No. 1 going into the 2010-2011 season) teams.

For any new Cornell fans, be absolutely sure to add the Big Red Sports Pass to your account. With it you can gain free entrance to all Cornell sporting events (with the exception of men’s ice hockey and playoff games). Also, be sure to get season tickets for ice hockey. Yes, you will have to wait in line (you may even have to camp out), but when you are standing in section B, watching the (illegal) fish fly and chanting “Harvard sucks!” at the top of your lungs, you will realize just how worth it was, is and will be.

Let’s go Red!

1 comment:

harry '59 said...

What about the wrestling team?