Thursday, November 11, 2010

News and Notes for the Early Afternoon

Below, some news and notes for the early afternoon...
  • The Big Red kick off the season Friday night at 7:30 at Albany. There is no online video for Friday's game. Albany's Athletic Department confirmed they are only offering online radio via Cornell's Redcast service will also offer online audio with play-by-play announcer, Barry Leonard making the call. This season, Leonard will not have a regular sidekick color commentator. Fans may also listen to Leonard via For this Friday's game, Leonard will have a pre-game analysis with Bill Courtney and a scouting report from assistant, Marlon Sears. The taped halftime interview will be with Bill Courtney, in more of an upclose personal look at his early years from Bucknell to the present.
  • The Setonian, the Seton Hall newspaper, writes, "The Pirates will open their home schedule on Sunday against the Cornell Big Red, who are the defending Ivy League Champions." The Setonian also notes that the Seton Hall student section was moved in the Prudential Center to right behind the visitor's bench."
  • Comcast Sports notes, Temple's Lavoy Allen "anchors a team that was upset by Cornell in the first round of the tournament last season."
  • From the Boston Globe, another article on Steve Donahue's start at B.C.:
United Eagles
New BC coach stresses togetherness, but lots of on-court freedom

Headbands are off the heads, names are off the jerseys, different colored shoes are off the feet. The warm-up gear stays, but it will be the same maroon-and-gold scheme for all. And everyone will start the actual warm-ups at the same time.

Little things, maybe. But they add up in coach Steve Donahue’s formula for retooling Boston College’s basketball team.

“I just think this is a team sport and you should try to play for Boston College,’’ Donahue said. “And anything that sticks out and deviates from your teammates, I don’t think is a positive. Any time you do things like that — different socks, headband — you separate yourself.

“You are out there as a unit. I asked guys to do certain things and they are on board and understand.’’

Donahue is altering the Eagles’ routine, and that is also a rare occurrence. When Donahue replaced Al Skinner as head coach April 7, it was only the second BC basketball coaching change since 1986.

Donahue guided Cornell to a 29-5 record last season, the Big Red’s up-tempo offensive style contradicting Ivy League stereotypes.

“A lot of things we do as a unit, as a team, they never even thought about before,’’ Donahue said. “Stretching together before games, coming out on the court together, how they dress on the road, how they go about practice. It’s all important.

“If you’re a tennis player or golfer, you do your own thing, and I completely get that. But you’re in this together. I believe it carries over, you develop an unselfish attitude on the court.

“It’s not one guy’s job, it’s everybody’s job. We want really good, hard, unselfish play. We want them to play for each other. There is an intrinsic value of helping a teammate out. Really good teams work for each other.’’

So there will be more structure and even regimentation off the court and in pregame. But once the contest starts, there will be plenty of room for spontaneity. In fact, Donahue’s offense allows freedom for individual decision-making, versatility, and an uninhibited approach to 3-point shooting. All within the team framework, of course.

“In terms of how we’re going to play,’’ Donahue said, “we’ll try to play a fast style — make quick decisions, not a lot of sets, things like that.

“I’ve never been a believer in a center who’s a low-post guy, a power forward, the 3 is a slasher. I think it limits the team. You have to be able to pass, dribble, and shoot, some of the stuff is based on that.’’

It’s raining threes
Donahue’s coaching philosophy is a synthesis of old-school Philadelphia teamwork and modern spacing concepts, plus a European emphasis on passing and 3-point shooting. His high school coach was Bud Gardler, who played for Jack Ramsay and Jack McKinney at Saint Joseph’s; he was an assistant to Fran O’Hanlon, who played in the ABA and in Europe; he worked as a collegiate assistant to Herb Magee, the all-time winningest college coach, and Fran Dunphy at Penn.

“He could recruit, he knows the game, he’s one of those guys that, as a head coach, you listen to,’’ Magee said of Donahue. “A lot of times, you get guys as your assistants who don’t really know the game — he really does.

“I had made a prediction back then; I thought he would be a really good head coach, and he’s certainly proven me right.’’

The new-look Eagles made their public debut last Friday in an 85-58 exhibition win over Magee’s Philadelphia University. The change in the BC game preparation and garb was noticeable, and so was the team’s shot selection. The Eagles outmanned Philadelphia, a Division 2 team, getting most of the shots they wanted. Unlike previous BC teams, though, most of those shots were from behind the 3-point arc. BC’s 15-for-33 shooting on 3-pointers set a Conte Forum record.

“Everything depends on how good are your players?’’ Magee said. “He must think they can shoot it [3-pointers], and I’ll tell you what, they can shoot. So it’s actually a good way of playing.

“The problem is if you’re off one night, do you have enough firepower underneath to win the game when you’re not making shots?

“But his scheme is terrific. They did a terrific job getting open shots, I was very impressed. He’s committed to that style and he did a great job with it at Cornell. I think they’re going to have a good year, and if they’re hitting, they can beat anybody.’’

Comfort zone
Donahue’s system could expand the capabilities of several Eagles. Reggie Jackson and Biko Paris will be counted on to direct the team, alternating point guard responsibilities. Joe Trapani and Josh Southern provide the inside strength.

The Philadelphia game indicated that several Eagles have untapped 3-point potential: Paris was 4 for 6 (he was 10 for 37 last season), Dallas Elmore was 2 for 5 (0 for 7 last season), Corey Raji was 3 for 6 (0 for 3 last season).

“I feel in the past, sometimes Coach Skinner focused on our limitations,’’ Jackson said, “and if we got in a shooting slump, sometimes he was telling guys maybe they want to shoot less.

“But [Donahue] has just focused on our shooting motion and preparing us. Nobody’s worried about coming out of the game because they take an open three and miss.

“So I believe we’re more relaxed and more free and we’ve also played [together] for two or three years. We feel comfortable and we shoot comfortable.

“For the most part, I feel like we’re picking it up. We’re moving in the right direction and progressing. It’s just being nitty-gritty. Basically, he wants to be more prepared than anybody in the nation. He comes out and prepares us, he’s a great scout, does everything he can — preparation, our shots, footwork, everything.

“He’s sending that message that we’re going to be the toughest team in the nation this year, and loose balls is the key. We’ll be up-tempo, but still structured.

“Everybody still has their cues, they still have their reads, same as in Coach Skinner’s system. I believe we abused it and got very robotic. Also, you have to take what the D gives you and try to be spontaneous and go with the flow. That’s what he’s preaching to us, and so far it’s working out.’’

When Donahue was playing at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pa., his team was a title contender despite competing against teams with significant size advantages.

Donahue’s Cornell teams were able to set an up-tempo tone against teams with athletic advantages.

This BC team, with only eight scholarship players, will be at a disadvantage against most ACC opponents. So it might take Donahue a few years to recruit players to the specs of his system. But the Eagles will come out firing.

“We will try and continue to space people out and get open looks,’’ Donahue said. “And we will be unselfish, make the extra pass, and spread people out on the 3-point line.

“There are times when they will take that away from you. But the whole key is we have players who can score the basketball when they have space.’’


Anonymous said...

How can they not be offering video????

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Very unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

This is just cruel.

Anonymous said...

At least we will have Barry Leonard