Wednesday, September 22, 2010

News and Notes: Wednesday Edition

Above, a trio of Fox Sports screen shots from Cornell's March 2010 NCAA Tournament run. Below, some news and notes for Wednesday...

  • A.J. Ortiz of the Cornell Daily Sun writes to the University freshmen, "Just like with academics, Cornell sports teams are good stuff. The University has a first-class Athletics Department with many awards and titles that numerous universities in the nation would love to have –– and believe me, this is not easy to achieve when you play under the recruiting rules of the Ivy League....Considering what happened last semester, I’m also pretty sure most of you have heard of our men’s basketball program –– which, according to some people in the Daily Sun’s sports department, is threatening ice hockey’s position as Cornell’s most beloved sport. We are currently the three-time defending Ivy League champions, and this past season we made it to the Sweet Sixteen (which is a great accomplishment, considering that most of the teams participating in the big dance have juicy scholarships to offer, and they don’t require their athletes to know how to read). Although we did not play in the final, the team earned some individual accolades as Ryan Wittman ’10 was named an AP All-American and former head coach Steve Donahue earned the 2010 Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award."

  • Louis Dale ('10) and his pro club, Gottingen (premier league of Germany, the Bundesliga) are preparing for their final week of exhibitions. Above, Dale is feature on his club's main page on the team website. In addition to Gottingen, most of the European clubs begin their regular seasons by the first week of October. The Big Red presently have eight alums playing professionally abroad. In addition to Dale, the Big Red pros include John McCord ('97) (SIG Strasbourg, French premier league), Jeff Aubry ('99) (Halcones, Mexico premier league), Cody Toppert ('05) (Plymouth, English premier league), Jason Hartford ('08) (Casino Ginasio, Portuguese premier league), Ryan Wittman ('10) (Forli, Italian second division), Jeff Foote ('10) (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israeli premier league), Jon Jaques ('10) (Ironi Ashkelon, Israeli premier league).
  • The JMU Sports Blog previews the Dukes' upcoming basketball schedule which includes Princeton and notes they, "finished second in the Ivy League to a pretty ridiculous Cornell squad."
  • writes, "Shonn Miller (6’6/2011) of Cleveland St. Ignatius has committed to Cornell. Miller averaged 12 points per game as a junior earning him 2nd Team All-Northeast Lakes District. Miller selected Cornell over Toledo, Bucknell, and Northeastern."
  • The Cleveland Plain Dealer also reports on Miller's commitment, noting as follows, "Miller to Cornell: St. Ignatius forward Sean Miller has made an oral commitment to attend Cornell, Wildcats basketball coach Sean O'Toole said Monday.Miller, 6-6, averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots per game last season for St. Ignatius, which had a 19-5 record and reached the Division I regional semifinals. In his two seasons as a starter, the Wildcats have gone 37-10, and he has led them in scoring and minutes played. 'He had offers from a couple of other schools, but Cornell is the Ivy League, and that is awfully tough to pass on,' said O'Toole. "He made a visit and felt really comfortable. O'Toole said Miller also received offers from Miami of Ohio, Bucknell, Northeastern and Toledo"
Bill Courtney has his first recruit as Cornell men's basketball coach.

Shonn Miller, a 6-6 senior forward at St. Ignatius High School in Ohio, committed recently to Courtney and the Big Red. Click this link for a story from the high school's website.

As always, Cornell coaches are not permitted to speak about incoming recruits until their first semester deposits are received by the school. As always Part II, the Cornell Basketball Blog has posted additional information on Miller at its site.
  • covers Cornell assistant, Jay Larranaga's hiring by the Erie Bay Hawks of the NBA D-League.
BayHawks hire Larranaga as new head coach
John Treloar knows what his replacement Jay Larranaga is about to enter as head coach of the Erie BayHawks.

"The D-League is a unique coaching environment," he said. "The biggest challenge is that the personnel, for the most part, is controlled by the league office. It makes flexibility difficult."

Those who have worked with the 35-year old former Cornell assistant say Larranaga can adapt to any situation, though.

"He's a person who can fit into any crowd," Cornell head coach Bill Courtney said. "That helps him to be able to coach in any type of environment as well.

"He's so used to dealing with so many different types of people, he looks at the positives in situations and makes it work no matter what the negatives may be."

On Tuesday, the BayHawks announced the hiring of Larranaga to replace Treloar, 53, who is now the director of player personnel for the NBA's Phoenix Suns.

"Jay will be a great leader of the Erie BayHawks," said BayHawks lead local investor, Owen McCormick, on Tuesday.

Larranaga could not be reached for comment Tuesday, as the D-League is having coaches' meetings in Dallas this week.

"I'm sure he's going to grow into a great NBA coach someday," McCormick added.

Larranaga's coaching experience, though, is short.

The former Bowling Green player, who still holds the school record for 3-pointers made in a game with nine, was the head coach of the Irish National Team from 2008 to 2010 after playing for it from 2001 to 2006.

According to his bio at Cornell, Larranaga took over the national coaching position as a player/coach in 2008 after an 11-year playing career overseas in Italy, Greece, France and Spain.

Larranaga had just joined Cornell in late May to work as an assistant under Courtney, who was hired a month earlier to replace now Boston College head coach Steve Donahue.

In that short span, Larranaga left an impression on Courtney.

"You're going to get an incredible teacher of the game," Courtney said.

"A very enthusiastic guy. A very positive guy," Courtney said. "A guy who has a deep knowledge of the game."

Now, Larranaga will try to lead Erie back to D-League playoffs.

The BayHawks reached the postseason in its expansion year in 2008-09, but failed to make a repeat appearance in 2009-10.

Erie was 48-52 under Treloar.

The BayHawks had been in contact with Larranaga as early as last week, Courtney recalled.

"I was very impressed with him as a person," McCormick said. "I was impressed with his vision in where he wants to take the BayHawks."

The BayHawks have retained Ben McDonald as an assistant.

Treloar sees this as a big move for Erie because McDonald can help Larranaga adjust to how the D-League functions.

"I believe he would be very instrumental in having a smooth transition because of his knowledge of the league," said Treloar about McDonald. "(He has) knowledge of the players in the league, knowledge of the coaches, knowledge of the emotional ups and downs that players go through."

Treloar also said other teams have a high interest in McDonald, who not only worked with him the past two seasons in Erie but also as assistants together at Indiana University.

"If there is an assistant coaching vacancy with another team, you can be certain he's at the top of the list because he's got that kind of respect throughout the league," Treloar added.

When Treloar came to Erie, then-Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry hand-picked him for the job. The Cavaliers are an NBA affiliate of the BayHawks.

In this hiring process to replace Treloar, McCormick said the Cavs and Erie's other NBA affiliate, the Toronto Raptors, helped them find candidates.

"(Larranaga) was highly recommended by both the Raptors and the Cavaliers," McCormick said.

Larranaga was in the Cavs' minicamp with other college assistants in 2008 teaching and evaluating prospective free agents.

"You'll see a lot of guys get better (under Larranaga)," Courtney said. "That's his strength."

Larranaga lacks coaching experience, but he comes from a family known for coaching.

His father, Jim, is the head coach at George Mason.

"Having been around his father his entire life, he's always been a coach," Courtney said.

The elder Larranaga has 443 wins in 26 years and led George Mason to the NCAA Final Four in 2006.

Having played for his dad at Bowling Green and growing up in a coaching environment, Larranaga has the family basketball history that intrigues Erie.

"Jay has the same coaching ideas as his father has, which will be a benefit to him as he moves forward," McCormick said.

The Larranaga File
- Name: Jay Larranaga- Age: 35
- Family: Wife, Andrea, and two children, Tia and James.
- Coaching experience: Head coach: Irish national team (2008-10); Assistant coach: Cornell University (Hired in May of 2010)
- Playing experience: Played 11 years in Italy, Spain, France and Greece. Captain for the Irish national team (2001-06). Played college basketball at Bowling Green (1993-97). Scored 1,249 career points. Still holds the school record for the most 3-pointers made in a game with nine.
- Family coaching tree: His father, Jim Larranaga, is the head coach at George Mason. He's won 443 games in 26 years. In his 13 years at George Mason, Larranaga has won 246 games and led the Patriots to the 2006 NCAA Final Four.
- Hooping with the President: Larranaga was a teammate of President Barack Obama in the "President's Pick-Up Game" at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C, in February. Obama's team went 4-1.
- News conference: The BayHawks are looking to have a news conference to introduce Larranaga early next month, team lead local investor Owen McCormick said Tuesday.

Opening statement: "I am extremely excited to be the new head coach of the Erie BayHawks. I am grateful that Steve Demetriou, Owen McCormick and the ownership group has selected me to continue the progress made by Coach Treloar. Together with Ben McDonald, Matt Bresee and the rest of the BayHawks staff I will work tirelessly to ensure the success of our team and franchise" -- From the Erie BayHawks news release.

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