Monday, December 6, 2010

News and Notes: Monday Edition/Weekend Wrap

Below, some news and notes for Monday...
  • From Brian Delaney of the Ithaca Journal on Saturday's action at Minnesota:

If you missed it, Cornell went to No. 15 Minnesota last night and gave the Golden Gophers a headache-inducing 40 minutes. It was a more complete performance at the Barn then the 08-09 team offered in a 71-54 loss two seasons ago. CU led for large portions of the game, never trailed by more than eight (with 2 seconds left), and Pete McMillan hit one last shot to make it a 71-66 final. Here's the official box score. Eight ties, five lead changes. The score was tied 60-60 with just over 4 minutes remaining. A Chris Wroblewski 3 with 1:22 left made it 65-63 Minnesota, but the Gophers then did what big-time teams usually do against Ivies: made more plays in crunch time and pulled away.

So Cornell enters its two-week break for finals on a five-game losing streak, but with a much higher level of self-confidence. The last four games were played on the road. Four of those five losses were decided by six points or less: St. Bona (56-54), Lehigh (60-57), BU (66-61) and Minnesota. Next up is Binghamton on Dec. 18.

Some observations from last night's game:
  1. There were some not-so-subtle changes to Bill Courtney's rotation last night. Miles Asafo-Adjei didn't play, and Max Groebe saw only five minutes. Instead, Johnathan Gray logged 17 minutes, scored six points and grabbed three rebounds, two offensive. More important, because he handled the ball on multiple possessions as Wroblewski's primary backup, he did not commit a turnover. Peter McMillan, a 6-7 sophomore, played a career-high 18 minutes. He scored nine points on three 3-pointers, and he pulled four rebounds. He missed the team's first five games while recovering from a concussion sustained in practice. He was a healthy scratch against BU, then played four minutes against Syracuse. After that game, Courtney said McMillan had earned some minutes in practice by the way he was making shots. I've seen that part of McMillan's game myself. He's a dead-eye shooter, and he doesn't need much time and space. He's not a guy who's going to score off the bounce, and he needs to get a little quicker to defend consistently at this level. But his jumper is reliable enough to act as an adrenaline injection for this team.
  2. Cornell stayed with Minnesota despite dealing with an immense amount of foul trouble. Mark Coury picked up two before the first media timeout, and ended up fouling out in just 12 minutes. Josh Figini also fouled out, while Errick Peck, Adam Wire, Wroblewski and McMillan ended the game with 4 apiece. All told, the Gophers went to the line 44 times and hit 26. Cornell didn't have Aaron Osgood, who's still out with an injury, as well as 6-9 sophomore Eitan Chemerinski, who didn't travel with the team. Courtney spent large stretches playing two guards and three small forwards against one of the Big Ten's biggest teams.
  3. Minnesota outrebounded Cornell 48-33, but it was rebounding that kept Cornell around after halftime. Totals for the second half were about even, and Cornell tied a season high for offensive rebounds with 13 (Albany). The Big Red rebounded much better as a team, with seven players grabbing three boards or more.
  4. Peck was very good again. Coming off a 14-point effort in the Syracuse loss, he finished with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists in a career-high 33 minutes. He shot 4 of 14 from the field, but got to the free throw line nine times and made seven. He entered the game with just one offensive rebound on the year, then grabbed five last night.
  5. Cornell again relied heavily on the three-point shot. The BR was 14 of 33 from the arc, and 7 of 27 inside the arc. It shot 35 percent overall and 42.4 percent from the arc.
  6. Figini played 14 foul-plagued minutes in his return home to the Minneapolis area, but he blocked out consistently and finished with a team-high six rebounds (tied w/Peck) and a team-high 5 defensive rebounds.
  7. Adam Wire had two steals last night, bringing his season total to 17 in 8 games.
    • Despite Cornell's defeat to Minnesota, the Big Red have climbed in the RPI, Ken Pom and Sagarin rankings. Cornell was as high as No. 158 on Sunday, but sits at No. 161 on Monday in the RPI. A bit more on the RPI further below.

    • Cornell RPI Watch: The RPI (Rating Percentage Index) is a measure of strength of schedule and how a team does against that schedule. It does not consider the margin of victory, but only whether or not a team won and where the game was played (home/away/neutral court). The formula is 25% team winning percentage (WP), 50% opponents' average winning percentage (OWP), and 25% opponents' opponents' average winning percentage (OOWP). (See: for a further explanation of the formula.) The RPI may be the most influential factor in NCAA Tournament seeding. Cornell's RPI rank as of December 6 is No. 161 out of 347 total Division I teams. While neither the Ken Pomeroy or Jeff Sagarin rankings are used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, the site ranks Cornell No. 182 in the nation, while the USA Today Sagarin rankings have Cornell at No. 169 Both sites are predominantly used by fans and the media.
    • Game Recaps-Below are links to our game recaps from each of Cornell's games this season. Associated press recaps courtesy of are always available by clicking on Cornell's schedule/results on the right column of this blog.
    1. at Albany W 65-61 (video recaps)
    2. at Seton Hall L 68-92
    3. vs. Delaware W 75-61 (video recap)
    4. vs. St. Bonaventure L 54-56
    5. at Lehigh L 57-60
    6. at Boston University L 61-66
    7. at Syracuse L 58-78
    8. at Minnesota L 66-71
    Friday, November 12
    Columbia 71 La Salle 82 Box Score - Recap
    Rutgers 73 Princeton 78 OT Box Score - Recap
    Cornell 65 Albany 61 Box Score - Recap
    Brown 69 Fordham 65 Box Score - Recap

    Saturday, November 13
    Harvard 53 George Mason 66 Box Score - Recap
    Davidson 64 Penn 69 Box Score - Recap
    Dartmouth 52 Providence 87 Box Score - Recap
    Yale 75 Quinnipiac 84 Box Score - Recap

    Sunday, November 14
    Cornell 68 Seton Hall 92 Noon [SNY/ESPN3/ESPN Full Court] Box Score - Recap
    Princeton 60 Duke 97 [ESPNU] Box Score - Recap

    Monday, November 15
    Maryland-Eastern Shore 74 Columbia 108 Box Score - Recap
    Yale 55 Providence 58 Box Score - Recap

    Tuesday, November 16
    Brown 67 Rhode Island 92 Box Score - Recap
    New Hampshire 55 Dartmouth 53 Box Score - Recap

    Wednesday, November 17
    Delaware 61 Cornell 75 Box Score - Recap
    Holy Cross 49 Harvard 72 Box Score - Recap
    Penn 54 Manhattan 59 Box Score - Recap
    Columbia 66 St. John’s 79 Box Score - Recap

    Thursday, November 18
    Yale 75 Boston College 67 Box Score - Recap

    Friday, November 19
    St. Bonaventure 56 Cornell 54 Box Score - Recap
    Dartmouth 71 Hartford 57 Box Score - Recap

    Saturday, November 20
    Harvard 75 Mercer 69 Box Score - Recap
    Sacred Heart 67 Brown 81 Box Score - Recap
    Columbia 76 Longwood 95 Box Score - Recap
    Drexel 77 Penn 56 Box Score - Recap

    Sunday, November 21
    Dartmouth 59 Loyola (Md.) 73 Box Score - Recap

    Monday, November 22
    Cornell 57 Lehigh 60 Box Score - Recap
    Princeton 64 James Madison 65 Box Score - Recap

    Tuesday, November 23
    Bucknell 55 Princeton 66 [at JMU] Box Score - Recap
    Colgate 63 Columbia 76 Box Score - Recap
    Quinnipiac 69 Dartmouth 52 Box Score - Recap
    Lafayette 65 Penn 74 Box Score - Recap
    Yale 47 Illinois 73 [ESPNU] Box Score - Recap

    Wednesday, November 24
    St. Francis (N.Y.) 63 Brown 67 Box Score - Recap
    Harvard 69 Bryant 66 Box Score - Recap
    Presbyterian 69 Princeton 67 [at JMU] Box Score - Recap

    Saturday, November 27
    Brown 66 New Hampshire 70 Box Score - Recap
    Army 79 Yale 87 Box Score - Recap
    Colgate 63 Dartmouth 80 Box Score - Recap
    Cornell 61 Boston University 66 Box Score - Recap
    Penn 58 Pittsburgh 82 [] Box Score - Recap

    Sunday, November 28
    Colorado 66 Harvard 82 Box Score - Recap
    Columbia 64 American 62 Box Score - Recap
    Siena 77 Princeton 86 Box Score - Recap

    Tuesday, November 30
    Cornell 58 Syracuse 78 [ East Sports Network] Box Score - Recap
    Maryland-Baltimore County 59 Penn 71 Box Score - Recap
    Princeton 82 Lafayette 64 [Lafayette Sports Network] Box Score - Recap
    Hartford 76 Yale 81 Box Score - Recap

    Wednesday, December 1
    Columbia 68 Bucknell 73 Box Score - Recap
    Dartmouth 53 Vermont 80 Box Score - Recap
    Fordham 57 Harvard 80 Box Score - Recap

    Thursday, December 2
    Brown 46 Hartford 58 [Connecticut Sports Network] Box Score - Recap

    Saturday, December 4
    Army 52 vs. Penn, 68 Box Score - Recap
    Harvard 62 Michigan 65 [Big Ten Network] Box Score - Recap
    Yale 78 Vermont 82 Box Score - Recap
    Brown 62 Maine 54 Box Score - Recap
    Stony Brook 72 Columbia 73 Box Score - Recap
    Cornell 66 Minnesota 71 [Big Ten Network] Box Score - Recap

    Sunday, December 5
    Saint Joseph’s 65 Princeton 74 Box Score - Recap

    Monday, December 6
    Brown at Providence, 7 pm
    Albany at Yale, 7:30 pm

    Tuesday, December 7
    WPI at Harvard, 7 pm
    Wagner at Columbia, 7 pm

    Wednesday, December 8
    Princeton at Monmouth, 7 pm
    Yale at Bryant, 7 pm
    Villanova at Penn, 7:30 pm [The Comcast Network]

    Saturday, December 11
    Boston University at Harvard, 2 pm
    Bryant at Columbia, 4 pm
    Army at Dartmouth, 7 pm

    Sunday, December 12
    Princeton at Tulsa, 2 pm

    • Throughout the season we will provide periodic updates on Cornell's eight (8) overseas alumni playing professionally. Below, some updates:
    -John McCord ('97) (Strasbourg, Pro A France)-Through, December 6, the 6'6" forward and long time veteran of the European leagues is averaging 11.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Strasbourg sits at 4-5 and in 8th place in the 16 team league. McCord is a former 1st Team All Ivy League selection.

    -Jeff Aubry ('99) (Halcones, LNBP Mexico)--Through, December 6, Aubry, a 6'11" center, is averaging 6.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Aubry played several seasons in the NBA D League in the early part of his career. Aubry finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds in his last game on December 2, a 101-90 defeat to Grises. Halcones is 17-10 in the Mexican League, sitting in 7th place out of 18 teams.

    -Cody Toppert ('05) (Plymouth Raiders, British Basketball League)--Through, December 6 Toppert, a 6'4" shooting guard, is averaging 10.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Plymouth is 3-4 and in 9th place out of 12 teams in the BBL. Like Aubry, Toppert is a veteran of the NBA D League.

    -Jason Hartford ('08) (Ginasio, LPD Portugal)--Through, December 6, Hartford, the 6'9" forward is averaging 13.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He finished with 6 points and 4 rebounds in an 82-54 loss to Porto on December 4. Ginasio is 5-2 and in 3rd place in the 12 team league.

    -Louis Dale ('10) (Gottingen, Bundesliga Germany)--Through, December 6, on the season, Dale is averaging 8.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. On December 4, Dale finished with 8 points and 7 assists in an 85-76 win over LTi. Goettingen (above) is 5-7 on the season and in 11th place out of 18 teams.

    -Ryan Wittman ('10) (Forli, LegaDue Italy)--Through, December 6, Wittman is averaging 15.2points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. In an 84-77 loss to Snaidero on December 5, Wittman finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds. Forli is 3-7 and in 11th place of 14 teams.

    -Jeff Foote ('10) (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel Winner's League/Melilla, Spanish 2nd Division)--Through, December 5, Foote is averaging 8.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game with his new club, Melilla. Foote's best game as a professional was on December 3. He finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks in an 86-64 defeat to Laguna. Melilla is 6-6, 8th place out of 18 teams.

    -Jon Jaques ('10) (Ashkelon, Israel Winner's League)--Through, December 6, Jaques is averaging 3.6 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. Ironi is in last place in the 10 team Israeli league, sporting a 2-6 record.
    • Below is an updated directory listing of some Twitter feeds associated with the Cornell basketball program. You can also follow The Cornell Basketball Blog on Twitter.
    -Josh Wexler ('88)
    -Steve Cobb ('05)
    -Andrew Naeve ('07)
    -Jason Canady ('08)
    -Khaliq Gant ('09)
    -Conor Mullen ('09)
    -Ryan Wittman ('10)
    -Pete Reynolds ('10)
    -Jon Jaques ('10)
    -Louis Dale ('10)
    -Alex Tyler ('10)
    -Geoff Reeves ('10)
    -Jeff Foote ('10)
    -Andre Wilkins ('10)
    -Max Groebe ('10)
    -Aaron Osgood ('10)
    -Peter McMillan ()
    -Errick Peck ()
    -Dominick Scelfo ()
    -Jake Mathews ()
    -Dwight Tarwater ()
    -Manny Sahota ()
    -Dave LaMore
    -Shonn Miller
    -Assistant Coach Ricky Yahn ()
    -Assistant Coach Mike Blaine ()
    -Assistant Coach Marlon Sears ()
    -Brian Delaney, Ithaca Journal ()
    -Cornell Daily Sun Sports ()
    -Slope Sports ()
    -WVBR Sports ()
    -Former assistant coach, Jay Larranaga ()

    And a few reminders....


    Anonymous said...

    The team looked more confident overall vs Minnesota. Thought our Bigs battled.

    Size and rebounding won't be as much of an issue in Ivy play.

    And, its good that we are getting all of our Bigs prepared by spreading out minutes early in the season (Osgood, Coury, Figini, Wire, McMillen and Gatlin).

    However, with a team as inexperienced as Cornell is across the board, with unexpected injuries, illnesses and foul trouble, and with it just being a long season, creating more depth at all positions during non-league games is even more imperative, especially if the overall record (currently at 2-6) will almost never get an Ivy League team an at-large bid no matter how good it is and the ultimate goal is to win the Ivy League and get that automatic bid!!

    The Ivy League teams will definitely play us tougher than the non-league teams!!

    Anonymous said...

    I came out of the Minnesota game pretty encouraged which wasn’t the case before that. I think everyone is still trying to figure each other out, coaches included.
    Some observations:
    1. I think Gray’s going to be the primary backup now at PG, and it basically comes down to him having a real nice shot and MAA struggling with his shot.
    2. McMillan’s got a real nice shot which I didn’t realize, and he doesn’t seem to lack in confidence about using it. I can see his minutes picking up, particularly if he’s holding his own on defense.
    3. Same thing with Ferry, although that’s more expected from what we’ve heard. But he’s more than just a shooter.
    4. The fouling is driving me crazy (did last year too). So many fouls are occurring on reaches, out on the perimeter, and over the back fouls which are really all avoidable. In addition to the foul trouble it puts the other team in the bonus, and double bonus, way too early (If Minnesota could shoot FTs better it’s probably a blowout).
    6. Peck really needs to be the best player on the team if they have any hope at winning the league. Without him they don’t have any threat inside the arc (although I haven’t seen Osgood play).
    7. Much like Donahue found out last year, I think the team will be at its best when there’s four shooting threats on the floor at the same time.

    Anonymous said...

    anon 2 is right, however, those shooting threats all rebounded well

    Witt was 6'7 and an above-average rebounder
    Jaques was a great rebounder
    Dale was an really great rebounder

    And Foote was so big and mobile that he could compensate for any rebounding deficiencies that we had.

    Our backcourt is really small and less athletic than it was last year. We don't have a legend in the middle anymore. So yes, while it is important to be able to space the floor out with shooters, we can't sacrifice rebounding.

    Having said that, Peck is a good rebounder when he wants to be. McMillan is a good rebounder too. Figini needs more playing time b/c he can spread the court and boards well.

    Gatlin is big, but he is softer than Chris Bosh and is somewhat of a liability on the boards.

    Anonymous said...

    I am also very encouraged at what we can do once fouling is under control and our inside game is sorted out.

    I remembered us actually being decent on the inside at BU, recalling some pretty nice passes from Peck to Figs down low. If you remember, several commenters noted that despite the BU loss they actually felt good after that game because we seemed to have more inside-outside balance. Prior to that, we seemed to have been hoisting threes and praying.

    I pulled out the box score for BU and we shot 11-28 from the inside, 39%. Better than the 7-27 (26%) against Minny, but not as good as I thought.

    But I remembered that it was before Peck's return, so taking a closer look yielded decent performances by Figs (2 of 3 under the basket) and Wire (3 of 4). Both Figs and Wire also added one trey each. Peck was 0-5 that day and Coury was 3-9, pushing the 2pt% down a bit.

    Our inside game suffered at Cuse, however. I remember us trying to get passes to guys down low and it would just get stolen. Last year's team actually had the same problem at Cuse; I remember the game getting away from us when passes down low led to general disarray. I don't know if that was because Cuse is good at dealing with that, or if it was before Foote started improving dramatically. Maybe some teams just need to be shot over. But we still need practice down low.

    Nevertheless, I don't think our inside game is as distant as some imagine. There were hints of it at BU and hopefully, we can build on that.

    As for the fouls,yeesh. We will get killed in the Ivy if we don't fix that. Brown is winning all its games at the line, and Harvard loves their FTs so much they make highlight reels of them.

    Anonymous said...

    Note that while we're fouling the most, we lead the league in steals & in forcing turnovers, and by quite a significant margin. So Courtney has improved defense, but it is leading to extreme fouling levels.

    Anonymous said...

    I think there is a chance that sending the Gophers to the line was part of the gameplan. They are a 63% FT shooting team. That's terrible. Good coaching staffs spot that stuff and take advantage of it. In the end, we were in a one possession game with less than a minute left against a Top 40 team on their court. Something went right!

    I'll admit that, so far, we have generally been getting alot of fouls called on us. The fact remains that good teams play this type of defense. When you watch Duke, UK, KU, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Purdue, you'll see that they get after their opposition in intense spurts. Syracuse, with its 2-3 matchup zone, is the exception among top tier teams. We're getting there and we will get better at it. We don't even have to do 40min of it; just the knowledge that we can do it is unnerving to opponents.

    Ace those exams, guys!

    Anonymous said...

    Responding to the post that improved defense has led to more fouls. I was curious if our defense really is improved if we are causing more fouls so I got statistics for a ratio of (turnovers forced per game + steals per game + blocks per game) / (fouls per game) to see if even though we foul more, we still benefit more. Turns out no:

    Harvard: 1.378
    UPenn: 1.359
    Dartmouth: 1.240
    Princeton: 1.159
    Cornell: 1.132
    Yale: .939
    Columbia: .919
    Brown: .777

    Not to mention we are almost last in the nation in # of fouls per game we commit which leads to as others have pointed out more foul shooting by our opponents.

    Also, this was real interesting - the opponent FTA per FGA. So basically how many times they shoot at the line for every attempt they take. Ours is .512, so we send them to the line once for every other shot they take - that's horrible and also ranked near last. Compared with UPenn, Brown, and Princeton all of which are top 40 in nation in this category, and Harvard at #62 and Columbia at #7 to round out those in the top 100 from our league.

    So, has defense improved, or is it costing us more than we realize?

    (Got stats from this site - had never seen it before, pretty nice:

    Anonymous said...

    The blocks part of that equation is what's doing us in. We lead in steals and turnover margin but we're not blocking anything.

    Anonymous said...

    1:57PM... I like the analytical thinking here. I see your point.

    If only we could somehow factor in strength of schedule. The idea is that the tougher your opponent, the better they will be able to resist your defensive advances, and give you a lower score on this stat.

    Let's check it out:

    #1. Brown and Columbia, the lowest two on your list, have been notable for their basic lack of defense this year. The Bears give up 70pts/g and the Lions give up 75pts/g, both significantly over the D-1 average.

    Both have played cupcake schedules that might fall prey to aggressive defense. However, neither team is either playing much defense or doing it very well. Not surprisingly, they were the worst on your scale.

    #2. Penn, Harvard, and Dartmouth have played schedules composed largely of sub-200 RPI opponents, the kind of teams to which one should be able to apply defensive pressure and get some results, as they have. They are the Top 3 on your list.

    #3. Princeton, Cornell, and Yale have played the toughest opponents. At 130-ish, the Tigers' schedule is the easiest and they fared the best on your scale.

    Yale, with an SOS ~40, and Cornell ~50, have really played solid opponents so far. And, though both apply solid defense, they have less to show for their efforts on your scale. Their opponents, being better teams, would seem likely to be more equipped to avoid steals, etc., and get fouled. That's how it works out.

    The moment of truth will come when Yale and Cornell apply their defensive tactics to the weaker teams that dot their remainder of their schedules. The results may be even better than Harvard, Penn, and Dartmouth are getting now.

    It might even be that the Yale-Cornell contests this year will feature sub-30% shooting for both teams with final scores in the 50's.