Tuesday, October 5, 2010

News and Notes: Tuesday Edition

Below, some news and notes for Tuesday....
  • RushTheCourt.net lists Chris Wroblewski among those "considered" for the Northeast's biggest impact players.
  • Erie.com reports that former Cornell assistant Jay Larranaga has arrived in Erie with his new team, the Erie Bayhawks of the NBA D-League.
  • A Minnesota blog, From the Barn, writes, "The Gophers have the toughest non-conference schedule in the Big Ten in terms of last season’s final RPI rankings. The Gophers face plenty of solid mid-majors like Wofford, Siena, Cornell, and Akron."
  • The Daily Pennsylvanian profiles each of the four new head coaches in the Ivy League and writes:
...Going into the 2010-11 college basketball season, fans will be seeing several new faces pacing the sideline, as half of the conference’s teams — Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Penn — have welcomed new head coaches to lead their basketball teams...

Bill Courtney – Cornell

A former assistant coach at Virginia Tech and George Mason, Courtney inherits three-peat Ivy champions Cornell, who went to the Sweet Sixteen last season. He replaces one-time Penn assistant Steve Donahue, who left Cornell for a job at Boston College.

Courtney will be rebuilding a team that lost nine players due to graduation, including All-Ivy selections Ryan Wittman, Jeff Foote and Louis Dale. But recruiting shouldn’t be a problem for Courtney, who is largely credited for bringing in key players that led George Mason to the 2006 NCAA Final Four.

Cornell’s men’s basketball team, for example, became the first Ivy squad in the past dozen years to win an NCAA tournament game. Cornell notched upset wins over Temple and Wisconsin to become the first Ivy League school to make the Sweet 16 since 1979. The feat prompted one ESPN writer to say, “What Cornell has done this season isn’t just surprising. It’s borderline miraculous.” And that’s no exaggeration. The fact that an Ivy like Cornell, with a tuition, room, and board fee hovering around $50,000, could find good enough players willing to put up the big bucks is impressive in and of itself. Nevertheless, if Cornell’s accomplishment in March Madness is the absolute pinnacle of success attainable for Ivy League schools, it doesn’t bode well for the potential of Columbia athletics.

Despite Cornell’s relative success last season, Columbia has been unable to do the same. While Columbia baseball managed to win an Ivy title just a few years ago, our basketball team hasn’t won a championship since 1968 (Penn has won 22 times since), and football has been title-less since 1961. Remember— this is a division with just eight teams. Consequently, Columbia suffers the double whammy to morale of not even being competitive in most years with its own non-scholarship conference.

If Columbia and the rest of the Ancient Eight ever intend on breaking the threshold of being known only for world-class academics, certain changes must be considered. Put simply, implementing athletic scholarships could potentially overhaul the size and scope of Ivy League sports. By providing financial incentives, teams like Cornell, who were “miraculous[ly]” able to make the Sweet 16 last year, would have a more equal opportunity for success. And that success wouldn’t have to be defined by merely making the field of 64, or winning one game in an upset—it would allow a school like Columbia the ability to recruit players from a larger pool and work on assembling stronger teams.

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