Tuesday, November 9, 2010

News and Notes: Early Evening Edition

Below, a couple of early evening notes...
  • The Associated Press profiles the rise of the mid-majors and notes, "Last season, Butler was joined in the round of 16 by Cornell, Saint Mary's, Xavier and Northern Iowa, which knocked off top-ranked Kansas on Ali Farokhmanesh's 3-pointer in the second round."
  • The following is a Q&A between Brian Delaney of the Ithaca Journal and Andrew Santillo of the Troy Record about Friday's upcoming Cornell-Albany game

The inside info on Cornell

By Andrew Santillo
Troy Record
November 9, 2010

I've done some trading
Brian Delaney of the Ithaca Journal about the Cornell/UAlbany season-opening basketball game that takes place on Friday.
I posed some questions to Brian and here were his answers about the Big Red. 1. What is the philosophy of new coach Bill Courtney (i.e. will he change the team's style of play)?

Early indications are Courtney wants to push the pace offensively, similar to Steve Donahue's style, and play a more high-energy, pressure defense that takes a lot of charges and harasses teams. Courtney's got a deep bench at his disposal, and a pretty athletic team by Ivy League standards, to try and successfully pull that style off. Playing to the strengths of his returning personnel, I think Courtney will encourage his team to aggressively shoot the 3 once again.

2. Cornell went to the Sweet 16 last year. What are realistic expectations for the Big Red this season?

Realistically, I think Cornell remains a competitive Ivy League team that defends its home court and uses the non-conference schedule as a means of preparing for the league schedule. There are no thoughts of being a top 25 team with this group, but they believe they can still challenge for an Ivy championship and an NCAA tournament berth. Getting into the tournament this year would be a significant accomplishment.

3. How good is Chris Wroblewski? Will he be ready to play on Friday (ankle)?

Wroblewski is likely to be a game-time decision for Friday night. He sprained an ankle in a scrimmage two Saturdays ago. He's deceptively good - not overly quick, but smart with angles when he's driving to the basket; great court vision; tough; poised; He's a 45-percent 3-point shooter. Last year, he was the fourth or fifth scoring option and burned teams when they paid less than full attention to him - he had 22 against Seton Hall and 22 against Syracuse. The question this year is, can he be consistently productive as teams focus on him? Cornell doesn't need him to be a 20-points per game guy. But if he can get 10-15 a night while organizing offensive sets and getting a lot of assists/hockey assists - he'll be a player of the year candidate in the Ivy.

4. Which players have been surprising, good or bad?

I've been impressed with Josh Figini, a 6-9 sophomore. He's added weight and strength and benefited from getting his tail kicked in by Jeff Foote all last year. He's a good pick-and-pop guy, and Cornell will be able to stretch teams out with him on the floor. He's someone that probably helps more down the road as opposed to right away. Another sophomore, Miles Asafo-Adjei, has improved quite a bit as Chris Wroblewski's back-up. His enthusiasm and positive attitude are infectious - an easy-to-predict captain-in-the-making down the line.

Ask Bill Courtney this question, and he'll point to two seniors having had strong camps: 6-5 Adam Wire and 6-9 Aaron Osgood. Wire was a staple of the past two championship teams. He's built like an NFL tight end, is a great defender and rebounder and does a ton of little things. Fans don't always notice his contributions; opposing coaches do. Osgood didn't crack the rotation [in his] first three years, but he'll be needed this year.

I don't think there are any bad surprises to be named - just unknowns because so many guys on this team haven't logged enough game minutes. For instance, where does Anthony Gatlin, a 6-8 transfer from Centenary, fit in? How about Andrew Ferry, a 6-2 junior college transfer?

5. What is this team's biggest strength/weakness?

Strengths: 3-point shooting; passing; offensive chemistry; team intelligence; team unselfishness; players have been reared in a winning culture.

Weaknesses: Depth at point guard; size in the frontcourt; a proven offensive post presence; lack of a shot-blocker.


Anonymous said...

Look across the Ivies and our non-con schedule, and then look at our Top Five frontline guys who are likely to see significant minutes in the rotation. They go 6-9, 230; 6-9, 230; 6-5, 235; 6-9, 205; and 6-8, 205. It seems very hard to me to say size at the "4" amd "5" is a Big Red weakness. That's as much bulk and height in the frontcourt as most non-BCS opponents trot out there.

Maybe it's not a strength, but it doesn't appear to be a weakness either.

Anonymous said...

wrobocop said that Ferry made 6-7 threes against Lafayette

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Agreed. Cornell has adequate size by Ivy standards.

Columbia has a couple 7 footers that haven't played much.

Harvard has a 7-footer that might help, but the jury is out on how much help he will provide. We will see in the next 2-3 weeks.

As for the rest of the league, most of the big men are in the 6'8" to 6'9" range and certainly won't overpower Cornell.

Coury and Osgood are about as solid of a pair of post players as you will find in the Ivy.

The league champion this year will win because of stellar perimeter play and depth, not because of a dominant frontcourt.

The best big men out there are Sands (Yale), Scheiber (Penn), Eggleston (Penn), Howlett (Penn), Wright (Harvard), Casey (Harvard) and arguably Maddox (Princeton). Maybe throw Brown's McCarthy in that group too.

Good guys in that group, but nobody that strikes fear in you. Maybe Casey, but he is 6'7"---

Anonymous said...

Do you know if the Seton Hall game will be blacked out on espn3 since it is on SNY??

Anonymous said...

This gives us a good opportunity to size up the league frontcourts.

So, Casey is out until late December, and [I predict] will play at 85% the rest of the year on his semi-healed foot. The second halves of those Sat-night league games are tough enough when one is not coming off a broken bone. He’ll be really good, but is likely to be hobbled enough that he will not have the monster year many anticipated. Wright has proven that he is not durable enough to go more than 22min per game. Van Nest has an opportunity, but he is unproven. I have heard the jury verdict is in; Okam is a project. Harvard is razor thin upfront.

Howlett’s fine… also for only 22MPG. Schreiber, after two years off, is a question mark until we see him a few times. If he plays steadily, it will be rotation minutes. However, coupled with 2nd Team All-Ivy Jack Eggleston and credible minutes from Turley, that will give Penn enough oomph to have a legitimate claim to owning the league’s best frontcourt.

Though they have never done it before, both Hummer and Maddox project as very good starters for Princeton. If Barrett comes along as hoped, he will fill out a nice rotation. If Connolly can also crack the rotation, the Tigers could be really tough up front.

In addition to McCarthy, Peter Sullivan plays very “big” for Brown. Add Halpern, too. They will have their moments, but Brown is not quite deep enough yet.

The Lions put some big, wide (and, yes, even tall) bodies on the court, but none have really shown any serious consistent offensive (or defensive) potential. I have this feeling that they were “under-coached” the last few years. This is no longer a problem, so there could be a surprise or two here.

Sands is excellent. His presence even makes it likely that a second big man could emerge in Yale’s frontcourt, but the ‘Dogs still lack depth.

I, for one, am not sure what formula will win the league this year. There are certainly multiple ways to get there. At least at the “4” and “5,” Cornell matches up OK across the league.