- Check the season preview video from YNN.com. Also from YNN:
Cornell basketball team ready to rebuild
ITHACA, N.Y. -- A Big Red run into the Sweet Sixteen last spring and three straight Ivy League titles has set the bar pretty high in Ithaca.
The Big Red will need new faces to take some big steps in order to win the Ivy again this year. The most obvious new face at Newman Arena is that of new head coach Bill Courtney, but he's not the only one.
Courtney replaces former coach Steve Donahue and will be tasked with replacing four starters from last year's Sweet Sixteen squad. Senior guard Chris Wroblewski is the only starter back from last year's Ivy League champs.
"There's gonna be some bumps in the road maybe this year, but as a young team, we're going to have to know that it's not what happens, it's how we respond to it. There is going to be adversity, but with young players, we are going to be resilient and we'll come back and be ready to work harder," Wroblewski said.
"None of these guys have really played an extended amount of time before and especially without Chris, who played a lot of minutes last year. It's been a challenge at practice," Courtney said. "He was out a bit with a broken nose and now with the ankle, so we've had to get used to playing without him. I think it may end up being a blessing in disguise for some of the guys who haven't played before to get an opportunity to go out and see what they can do."
As in previous years, Cornell's hopes to win another Ivy League title will ride largely on their ability to step up and knock down the three point shot.
"We're gonna shoot a lot of threes and I think that's good because we have shooters who are capable of doing that, we're probably going to play an up tempo brand of basketball and it's going to be a lot of fun," said Wroblewski.
"The team's been built that way. To be a good perimeter shooting team. We also hope we find some balance and get some inside scoring and some drives to the basket, but yes, the three point shot will be a weapon," Courtney said
Cornell is well aware they are missing last year's big man, Jeff Foote, but hope to come up big on defense as a team to make up for it.
"We'd love to have a seven footer, but most programs across the country don't have seven foot guys that are as good as Jeff Foote, so everyone has to make that adjustment without playing with a guy who can erase mistakes on the defensive end, so we have to do that much better individually on defense," Courtney said.
"We're gonna have to play extra tough and extra hard on the defensive side. We don't have Foote, we don't have a seven footer in there so we have to front the post and be extra aggressive on defense," senior forward Aaron Osgood said.
If the Big Red can get big time performances from new players, stay hot at the three point line and make stops as a team on defense, then a fourth straight Ivy League title could be theirs.
- From the Troy Record, "[Albany coach, Will ] Brown said the team will play a little different defensively, packing it in more and he said two keys to beating Cornell were defending the 3-pointer and making sure they get a shot up every time down the floor."
- Rush The Court writes of the Big Red's weekend games:
Cornell at Albany, 7:30 PM – While the Great Danes should be improved with Tim Ambrose returning for his senior season, most of the college basketball world will be focused on the Big Red, who lost eight seniors, including Ryan Whitman, Louis Dale, and Jeff Foote along with their coach Steve Donahue, who headed to Boston College. New coach Bill Courtney will be relying on Chris Wroblewski as one of the few known elements of his team to help guide the Big Red in the early season while they try to establish a new identity.
Cornell at Seton Hall, Noon on The Big East Network and ESPN Full Court – Their second game of the weekend should be significantly more challenging for the Big Red as they travel to play a Pirate team that has a new coach in Kevin Willard and returns two stars in Jeremy Hazell and Herb Pope. We know what to expect from Hazell (shooting, lots of shooting), but we aren’t sure what to expect from Pope who underwent cardiac surgery in the off-season to repair a congenital abnormality. Pope looked pretty good in some exhibition games, but we expect it will be a while before he gets back to the level where he was last year. A year ago, the Pirates won a tight game over the Big Red on the road. Don’t expect this year to be as close.
- The Albany Times Union gives an update on Albany's rotation when the Danes meet Cornell on Friday night.
- Previewing tonight's game, the Times Union writes:
...Cornell, which got to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last year, lost eight seniors to graduation, including Ryan Wittman, who left as the school's all-time leading scorer. Also gone is coach Steve Donahue, who is now at Boston College.
Bill Courtney, the new coach, said he doesn't know if the top returning player from last year, 6-0 guard Chris Wroblewski (8.9 ppg), will be able to play because of an ankle injury.
"I don't know," Courtney said. "It will be a decision we'll make near game time. We're young. We have guys who played spot minutes last year and guys who didn't play at all who are going to have to step up."
- From the Troy Record:
The Big Red lost their three leading scorers from a season ago, who all averaged in double figures. “I know they lost a lot of good players,” said [Albany] sophomore guard Logan Aronhalt. “That usually means there are a lot of good players coming up behind them.”
- Jonah Hecht of WVBR tells you "what to watch for" on Friday when Cornell faces Albany. He writes:
"Perhaps it's appropriate that the Cornell Men's Basketball Team opens its season on the day after Veterans' Day, as this will be the season after a veteran season. Much has been said of the team's loss of 8 seniors, as well as longtime coach Steve Donahue. The Red are going to be a work in progress during the non-conference schedule, as new players get used to playing with each other and for a new coach. The team ought to look much better come the start of Ivy play, but here are three things to look for tomorrow night in determining if this team has a shot at winning a fourth straight Ivy crown.
Defense: Often overlooked was how good Cornell's defense was last season. Coach Bill Courtney has emphasized playing aggressive defense, and with an undersized team, playing consistently on the defensive end will be critical for this young roster.
Points in the paint: Last season's team relied on center Jeff Foote when it absolutely needed a basket. This season the Red boast no player taller than 6'9”. Besides, several of their big men either prefer to play on the perimeter, or have limited offensive games. The team is going to need the threat of a post scorer, though, to keep opposing defenses honest.
Rebounding: Albany lacks size, so if Cornell struggles on the glass, it could portend a long season."
The Gazette of Massachusetts writes, "FORMER PLAYERS - There will be quite a few former Minutemen who'll be in uniform for other schools around the country. Max Groebe, Jr., Cornell - Groebe could finally get consistent minutes after being buried on the deep Big Red squad last year. He's a candidate to start at shooting guard."
- SlamOnline writes, "[Temple's] disappointing loss to Cornell that ended their season in the first round of the NCAA Tournament also marked the end for their leading scorer Ryan Brooks."
- Temple has not forgotten about Cornell writes Philadelphia Sports Daily:
The Temple Owls are reminded of it every time they walk into their locker room at Liacouras Center.
Cornell 78, Temple 65.
It’s written on the stat books that Fran Dunphy still has in the room – reminding his players of their first-round NCAA tournament upset at the hands of 12th-seeded Cornell.
“It’s kinda like a constant reminder that we don’t want that to happen this year,” guard T.J. DiLeo said. “We don’t want that to be us. We wanna get back into that position where we’re competing in the NCAA tournament, but we wanna remember that game. We don’t want that to be our fate this year.”
That’s where it begins for the Owls. It’s been almost eight months since that defeat in Jacksonville, Fla., Temple’s third straight first-round exit. And as much as players usually talk about moving forward, this one is still on their minds.
“Certainly the last game we played was Cornell, and Cornell beat us up pretty good. I hope they remember that going into Friday’s game,” Dunphy said. “If we’re fortunate enough to get back to the NCAA tournament, I’m sure we will learn some lessons from that.”
Friday’s game is the first chance to get some retribution for that deflating defeat – the season opener at Liacouras Center against Seton Hall. No, it doesn’t have the weight of an NCAA tournament game, but think of it as another step on Temple’s road to recovery.
Because that loss will serve as the enduring moment of last year’s Owls – even after they won 29 games and a third straight Atlantic 10 championship.
“We really don’t know what the problem was,” projected starting forward Scootie Randall said. “That loss, it really hurt us and it pushed us to work hard over the summer and have a better year this year. For us to go back in there and see that Cornell book every time, it’s depressing, but we gotta look past it and have a better year this year.”
Of course Dunphy and his team won’t dwell all season on a game that won’t have an immediate impact on this season, but it is a long time until the Owls get a chance to avenge it and succeed in the goal of actually winning an NCAA tournament game.
Until then, getting back onto the court for games that count is a nice first step to getting over Cornell.
“I don’t think it will affect us, but it’s never forgotten,” guard Juan Fernandez said. “We definitely wanna get there again and we definitely wanna make a run in the tournament, but to get there we gotta start thinking about Friday and then go one game at a time. That’s the only way.”
- The Columbia Spectator notes, "[Columbia had a] 0-3 start to league play. [a year ago]. All three losses were of the blowout variety, and the first two came against Cornell, which went on to win the league and shock the country by reaching the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Championships."
- The Minnesota blog, From the Barn writes, "Cornell had a magical run last year. This year they’ll be lucky to be play in any post-season tournament"
- The Pioneer Press projects that injured Minnesota star, Devoe Joseph, is expect to return from his injury for the Cornell game on December 4.
- The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes, " I once thought the Atlanta Falcons' run of 42 years without back-to-back winning seasons was the most remarkable streak in sports. But it's not. Northwestern has never been to the NCAA Tournament. Ever. How does that happen, when all it takes is two pretty good players? Academics aren't an excuse. They do it at Duke, Stanford and, um, Cornell. Northwestern has a beautiful campus, a marginally nicer gym than Cameron Indoor and a primo location. How can it possibly lose?"
- The Montgomery Advertiser notes, "Alabama has lost two straight sea son openers to Mercer two years ago and Cornell last season."
- Previewing Boston University, the Boston Globe writes, "[The Terriers have] tough nonconference games against four Atlantic-10 opponents, Cornell Nov. 27, and at Kentucky Nov. 30."
- Cincinnati.com writes, "Goodbye Ivy League, hello ACC. Steve Donahue parlayed a Sweet 16 trip with Cornell into the Boston College job."
- The Richmond Times Dispatch writes of the ACC's new coaches, "[Steve] Donahue is the sexiest hire. He led Cornell to three consecutive Ivy League titles, a 28-4 conference record during that span, and was a major name for job openings after the Big Red made the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 as a No. 12 seed last season."
- SBNation.com notes, "[Donahue] finally got a chance to shine as a head coach at Cornell in 2000, and compiled a 146-138 record at Cornell. Donahue struggled early in his Cornell career, but took the Big Red to new heights in the final three years. Cornell posted an impressive 72-21 record since the start of the 2007-08 season. The Big Red finished first in the Ivy League each of the last three seasons and made appearances in the NCAA tournament. Donahue's Cornell career was highlighted by a 29-5 record and an appearance in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament."
- Below an excerpt from the Boston Globe:
[Steve Donahue said,] “Our teams at Cornell shot a high percentage, but I don’t think we ranked in the top 100 in attempts in the country." Donahue has converted the Eagles to the up-tempo style of offense he used in guiding Cornell to a 29-5 record last season... Donahue noted that two years ago, Cornell had four players with 70-plus assists.
- The Boston Herald writes:
After a few subpar seasons recently, [Boston College] athletic director Gene DeFilippo fired [Al] Skinner and tabbed Steve Donahue as his replacement. Donahue spent the last 10 seasons at Cornell, culminating in a run to the Sweet 16 last March.
Donahue (left) had been a hot name in coaching circles for the past few seasons, but said he would only leave Cornell for a “home run” job. Clearly, BC fit the bill.
- From the Boston Herald:
There are no Ivy League championship plaques hanging on the walls in Steve Donahue’s new office. There are no newspaper clippings about his success in 10 years at Cornell. Not even the Sports Illustrated photo from last March, which featured three Big Red players diving for a loose ball during the NCAA tournament, holds a spot on the wall.
All of those memories have been tucked away by Donahue as he sets out to create a new legacy at Boston College.
“I made a point of never mentioning Cornell,” Donahue said. “I never have anything in my office that’s Cornell related. I think it’s not fair for (the BC players). It’s just another part of my journey here. This is all new.”
About the only thing Donahue has brought from Cornell is a library of tape to allow his new players to learn schemes that are a major departure from the plodding style of previous coach Al Skinner.
While players have checked out the tapes in their free time, they already had impresssions of Donahue when he was hired last April on the heels of an impressive run to the Sweet 16.
“I knew that he had a really good career at Cornell and brought his team to the Sweet 16,” senior forward Joe Trapani said. “That’s obviously something I’d love to do -- make it back to the tournament again.”
Though Donahue has downplayed his success at Cornell, he’s aware his time in the national spotlight added credibility with his new players.
“I would say that the run we made at Cornell had a lot to do with their trusting what I was saying,” Donahue said. “I’d be foolish to think that my word would be what they would just believe. Seeing what we did at Cornell has definitely been a help in terms of getting these guys to believe in what we’re doing.”
Donahue understands that credibility only extends so far. The Eagles open their season tonight at home against St. Francis (N.Y.). If they lose tonight or experience a rough patch during the season, the furthest thing from the BC players’ minds will be Donahue’s success at Cornell...
- Blogging The Bracket thanks The Cornell Basketball Blog for a reminder of the name of the DirecTV Great Eight Tournament. BTB suggested Cornell could be a participant if the Tournament were brought back.
- MadduxSports.com writes, "The [Kentucky Wildcats] went to the Big Dance where they hammered opponents, beating East Tennessee State 100-71 Wake Forest 90-60 and Cornell 62-45. In the Elite Eight, Kentucky lost to West Virginia 73-66. It was a good but disappointing run for the Wildcats and their new coach John Calipari."
- From the Daily Pennsylvanian:
With the M. Hoops season nigh, DP Sports decided to jump on the bandwagon and put out our own preseason picks for the Ivy League. I polled our crack team of editors and men's basketball beat writers and they came up with this prospectus:
Penn junior Zack Rosen was a unanimous conference Player of the Year, while Penn's Miles Cartwright tied with Harvard freshman Laurent Rivard for Rookie of the Year. Interestingly both Rivard and Cartwright will be donning the #0 jersey this season.
The all-Ivy team panned out as follows:
Zack Rosen (Penn, G)
Douglas Davis (Princeton, G)
Noruwa Agho (Columbia, G)
Kyle Casey (Harvard, F)
Jack Eggleston (Penn, G)
Cornell's Chris Wroblewski received a couple votes, along with Princeton's Dan Mavraides and Brown's Peter Sullivan.