Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jeff Foote Featured on FanHouse.com


Bt John Walters
FanHouse.com
January 31, 2010

ITHACA, N.Y. -- There was a "Nerd Alert!" in college basketball Saturday night, as the top two titans in the Ivy League, Harvard and Cornell, met on the hardwood. Ordinarily such a contest would generate little outside interest beyond the campuses of the Ancient Eight, the hallways at Sports Illustrated (an inordinate number employees of which are Ivy-educated) and a niche cadre of Vegas gamblers.

News and Notes: Afternoon Edition

Below, some afternoon news and notes...


  • The Hoops Report writes:

ITHACA, N.Y. – In 2006, when then-Cornell basketball player Khaliq Gant checked into a local hospital in nearby Elmira to rehab an injury, one of the nurses who attended to him was Wanda Foote.

The two got to talking. Wanda informed Khaliq she had a son who played basketball. His name: Jeff Foote, a rail-thin 6-foot-9 product that wasn't on anyone's mind, much less Cornell's radar.

News and Notes

Below, some news and notes...
  • Our compilation of media recaps from Saturday's Cornell win over Harvard can viewed by clicking here.
  • There are a lot of comments and observations in the media about the great crowd and band atmosphere at Saturday's game in Ithaca. We noticed that several former members of the 2008-2009 Cornell basketball team were in attendance, including Khaliq Gant, Conor Mullen, Adam Gore, Jason Battle and Marc Van Burck.
  • More details further down below, but Cornell's RPI shot from No. 45 on Saturday to No. 33 today, following Cornell's "schooling" of Harvard in Ithaca. Cornell is No. 41 in the Pomeroy Ratings and No. 30 in the Sagarin Ratings.

Harvard Schooled in Basketball by Cornell, 86-50

Below, recaps of Cornell's win over Harvard on Saturday.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Game Preview Center for "The Game"

Click the image to visit The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center for Saturday's Cornell-Harvard game.

Cornell Athletics Game Notes for Crimson


Game Notes (PDF) I Live Video (RedCast) I Live Stats I Text Updates I 2009-10 Cornell Information Center I 2009-10 Cornell Statistics I 2009-10 Cornell Roster I 2009-10 Cornell Schedule & Results

GAME INFORMATION
GAME #21: Harvard at Cornell
TIP OFF: Saturday, January 30, at 7:00 p.m.
SITE: Newman Arena (4,473), Ithaca, N.Y.
2009-10 RECORDS: Harvard (14-3, 3-0 Ivy League); Cornell (17-3, 3-0 Ivy League)
SERIES RECORD: Cornell leads 88-68
LAST MEETING: Harvard won 71-70, February 28, 2009 in Cambridge, Mass.

HEAD COACH STEVE DONAHUE
Cornell head coach Steve Donahue is in his 10th season at Cornell (134-136, .496) ... Donahue became the fourth Robert E. Gallagher ‘44 Coach of Men’s Basketball at Cornell on Sept. 6, 2000.
ITHACA, N.Y. — After two weeks of hype, the expected showdown of undefeated Ivy teams will finally happen when Cornell and Harvard lock up on Saturday, Jan.30 at 7 p.m. at Newman Arena in Bartels Hall. Barry Leonard and Matt Grassie will again provide the call locally on 93.5 FM WVBR as well as part of the RedCast subscription service. Live video of the game will also be available on RedCast.

The sold-out contest features teams that have combined for a 31-6 record, with both teams also posting identical 3-0 conference marks. The Big Red has won its three contests by an average of 27.0 points, while Harvard has cruised through by an average of 20.7 points. Both teams also have out-standing non-conference resumes. Cornell won an Ivy League record 14 regular season non-conference contests, including wins at Alabama, at St. John’s, at Massachusetts and at La Salle, as well as a narrow loss at then-No. 1 Kansas, a game Cornell led into the final 50 seconds. Harvard won 11 games out of the league, including at Boston College and at home against William & Mary.

Both teams come into the game hot, as the Big Red has won 15 of its last 16 and Harvard has won seven consecutive contests. Both teams have done it with suffocating defense and effcient offenses, ranking 1-2 in the conference in scoring offense and field goal percentage defense. The two teams are also led by 2009-10 Ivy League Player of the Year frontrunners in seniors Ryan Wittman and Jeremy Lin (Harvard).

News and Notes: Afternoon Edition

In 2008, Cornell clinched the Ivy title in Ithaca with a win over Harvard. A mad court storm ensued while the Harvard players ran for the lockers. How will it end tonight?

Below, some news and notes for Saturday afternoon.

  • CollegeInsider.com tweets, "MUST SEE GAME: Harvard (14-3) at Cornell (17-3). Nothing less than 1st place in the Ivy League is on the line tonight."
  • The Cornell Daily Sun tweets, "Jeremy Lin & the Harvard Crimson come to town tonight, in a game that many analysts agree could end up determining this year's Ivy champ."
  • In previewing tonight's game, CollegeHoopsNet.com writes, "the Game of the Year (so far) in the Ivy League with Harvard taking on Cornell in what should be an entertaining affair. Both took care of inferior opponents on Friday night and in Jeremy Lin (Harvard) and Ryan Wittman (Cornell), two of the better players you don't see on ESPN every night will be on display. But don't forget about the Big Red's seven-footer, Jeff Foote, who can score and rebound inside to relieve some of the pressure on Wittman and Louis Dale on the perimeter. These are the two best offensive and defensive teams in the Ivy League; it's not even close when looking at the numbers. The winner, which will likely be decided by which team controls the boards (Harvard leads the league in rebounding margin), will assume early control of the title race."

Harvard Athletics Game Notes for Visit to Cornell


The Particulars
Harvard continues its lengthy road weekend Saturday night as the Crimson travels to a sold out Newman Arena for a 7 p.m. contest against the two-time defending league champion Cornell Big Red.

Download Complete Game Notes (PDF)
Get Live Updates From Saturday’s Game Delivered via Twitter
Columbia Highlight 1: Van Nest drills a triple from the corner
Columbia Highlight 2: Lin dishes to Wright underneath
Post Game Clip: Amaker Talks about the victory
Post Game Clip: See the swarm of fans waiting for Jeremy Lin after the game


Notes from Brian Delaney of the Ithaca Journal and Slope Video Highlights from Friday's Dartmouth Game





With some items that didn't make it into the game story, let's recap further Cornell's 71-37 win over Dartmouth last night. Read the game story here. Photo gallery here.

*Can you recall the last time Cornell trailed? Would the answer, "the first half of the South Dakota game" surprise you? Cornell's last deficit was 31-30 against SD in Vermillion on Jan. 8. Louis Dale's layup with 1:43 left in the first half gave Cornell a 32-31 lead it did not relinquish. Since then, Clarkson, Columbia (twice) and Dartmouth have failed to take a lead against Cornell at any point. The streak is up to, by my (sometimes bad) math, 181 minutes and 43 seconds. Of that amount, Cornell has actually been leading for 178:25.

*The shooting was pretty bad on both sides of the ball in the first half, but for two completely different reasons. Cornell defended Dartmouth into the ground, then worked the ball over the court for quality looks nearly every possession. Shots just didn't fall. For instance Max Groebe, who ended up leading Cornell with 15 points (5-for-7 shooting, 4-for-6 from 3), had two wide open 3's rim in and out on some early possessions. Jon Jaques also had one down and out. 12 of Cornell's first 16 shots were 3's, and they missed 11 of 16 overall in the first half. Donahue acknowledged his shooters may have been too wide open at times against Dartmouth's sagging D.

*The defensive dagger. Wittman hit a 3 to make it 35-17, forcing Mark Graupe into a timeout with 16:41 left. Out of the TO, Dartmouth inbounded to Ronnie Dixon a few steps past the 3-point line. Geoff Reeves and Wittman pressured him almost 10 feet back into a back-court violation. Then Foote hit Jaques on a cut down the lane for a 37-17 lead.

*Cornell committed 17 turnovers. Entirely too much, although that number ballooned a bit in the latter stages.

*Adam Wire's two-play sequence. It started with a reverse layup on a good interior pass from Coury. At the other end, he came from the backside of Mbiyimoh Ghogomu to force a steal. While falling to the ground around halfcourt, he flipped the ball around his body to Groebe leading the break. He got fouled and made 1-2 FT's.

*Ghogomu's one-handed flush over Reeves in the second half. Good bounce from the freshman.

* I think the only group of people caught looking ahead last night was the audience. The crowd was announced as over 3,800. For the exception of a group of like 25-30 students sitting directly behind me (an entertaining group), it was the quietest 3,800 I can remember. Felt like a movie theatre at times. Sure that'll change tonight though.

*Dartmouth's first five possessions went turnover, turnover, turnover, airball, airball. Cornell scored 32 points off 16 Dartmouth turnovers.

*Jaques took a first-half charge against Herve Kouna (remember him from last year?). Jaques took two charges at Columbia that, among other things, prompted Steve Donahue this week to say Jaques is as good a defender as Cornell has right now. Who saw that three months ago?

*Miles Asafo-Adjei's speed in the open court. Who couldn't notice that? He's by far the fastest player in space for Cornell, he's a terrific defender, he works his tail off and he's very bright. A lack of a jump shot may limit his minutes down the road though. Still, in short spurts he'll be electric. If he can develop and outside shot, he'll turn into a very good find.

*Cornell's team rebounding. This will be key tonight against Harvard. Fourteen different players grabbed a board, with Jaques' five a team high.

News and Notes: Newman Nation Readies for Harvard (updated 10:36 a.m.)

Below, some news and notes for Saturday...
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer is one of the latest media outlets to label Harvard at Cornell one of the best national games of the weekend. The Inquirer notes, "Harvard at Cornell, 7 p.m.: The two Ivy League heavyweights square off for the first time this season."
  • StormingTheFloor writes, "Harvard and Cornell now face each other for the first time this season as undefeated challengers for the Ivy title. Since nobody seems to have acted on my suggestion that PBS sign an exclusive contract to televise the Ivy, nobody will see this epic game unless they travel to Cornell today (in the snow)."
  • ESPN's Fran Frachilla was asked during a chat session, "Why isn't the Cornell and Harvard game televised on ESPN360? It's probably the most intriguing storyline of the weekend." Fraschilla responded, "I couldn't agree with you more and I'm as disappointed as you are. Unfortunately the Ivy League's lack of emphases on college sports (not that it's a bad thing) certainly hurts basketball junkies like you and me. I'm going to miss not being able to see guys like Jeremy Lin and Ryan Wittman."

  • The Penn Athletics Department tweets, "Kyle Whelliston from midmajority.com slept in The Palestra Wed night and lived to tell about it." We note that the Penn Basketball team also has slept in the Palestra the last few years too. Not sure if they want to live to tell about it though.
  • MSG.com joins CNNSI.com's Seth Davis in predicting a Cornell victory. But MSG picks a rather large margin of victory. MSG writes:

HARVARD AT CORNELL

It's rare to see an Ivy League game have this type of sizzle. For the first time in three years, the Big Red has a serious challenger to their conference supremacy.

Harvard is well coached by Tommy Amaker and has a real special player in guard Jeremy Lin. However, Steve Donahue's team is confident playing at home, and they also have a 7-footer in Jeff Foote anchoring the middle.

With no answer for Foote, I see the beat marching on for Cornell.

Prediction: Cornell 80, Harvard 68


RushTheCourt.net Checks in on the Ivy League

RushTheCourt.net

By Dave Zeitlin-RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Seeds of Doubt?

Last time we suggested that a single digit tournament seed was a possibility for Cornell. While we feel that it would be deserved, the reality is that it may be a pipe dream. So, you may ask, with a perfect Ivy season looming, why not a #8 or a #9 seed come March? The numbers tell the story. As of Thursday, the Big Red has an RPI of 37 and a strength of schedule ranking of 129. And with 12 games remaining within a conference with an RPI rank of 19 out of 32, those numbers won’t improve, even if they go undefeated. So expect #11 or #12 seed and a first round match-up against maybe a Wake Forest or a Pittsburgh.

Ithaca Journal Scouts Harvard


Not including Friday's game)

* Coach: Tommy Amaker (third season)

* Record: 13-3 (2-0 Ivy League)

Friday, January 29, 2010

News and Notes: Late Friday Night Edition

Below, some late night Friday news and notes...

Game Recaps: Cornell Downs Dartmouth in Ithaca


Box Score

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The Cornell men's basketball team continued its suffocating defense, surrendering 28 percent shooting and limiting the Big Green to 13 first half points in an impressive 71-37 victory over Dartmouth on Friday evening at Newman Arena. Cornell improved to 17-3 (3-0 Ivy), while the visitors fell to 4-13 (0-3 Ivy). The win also sets up a showdown Saturday with conference unbeaten Harvard, a 74-45 victor at Columbia.

Ivy League Office Weekend Guide


PRINCETON, N.J. — The first full Ivy travel partner weekend kicks off tonight as Dartmouth and Harvard travel to Cornell and Columbia, while Penn and Princeton open their Ivy campaigns on the road at Yale and Brown, respectively.

Saturday night's Cornell-Harvard matchup in Ithaca has garnered national attention, reaching the pages of Bloomberg, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal this week. Both teams, each fresh off program-best non-conference seasons, enter weekend play undefeated in Ivy play and with top-60 RPI rankings, according to the NCAA's most recent report on Monday.

The Big Red (16-3, 2-0 Ivy) has won four consecutive games since its heartbreaking five-point loss at then-No. 1 Kansas on Jan. 6, posting an average win margin of 24.5 points in those contests. Cornell has compiled and even more impressive streak in home Ivy League games, running off 16 straight at Newman Arena, with its last loss coming all the way back on Mar. 2, 2007 to none other than the Harvard Crimson.

Dartmouth/Harvard at Cornell Game Preview Center (1/29-1/30/2010)

Get all the information you need about the Cornell Big Red's games this weekend vs. Dartmouth (1/29) and Harvard (1/30) right here with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center. As the games approach, we will be adding relevant links to this space. Let us know your thoughts on the upcoming game by either leaving a comment to this post, sending us an email (CornellBigRedFan@gmail.com), or posting a message on The Cornell Basketball Blog's Community Forum (click here, free membership).

Go Big Red!

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Cornell-Dartmouth Preview from the Sports Network

The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, January 29th, 7:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Newman Arena (4,473) -- Ithaca, New York.. Television: None. Home Record: Dartmouth 4-5, Cornell 5-1. Away Record: Dartmouth 0-7, Cornell 8-2. Neutral Record: Dartmouth 0-0, Cornell 3-0. Conference Record: Dartmouth 0-2, Cornell 2-0. Series Record: Dartmouth leads, 101-97.

GAME NOTES: The Cornell Big Red will try to continue their outstanding play when they host the Dartmouth Big Green this evening in an Ivy League tussle at Newman Arena.

The Big Green fell to 0-2 in league play the last time they were in action, as Dartmouth was defeated by Harvard, 62-58. It was the sixth loss in the last eight games for Dartmouth, which has been dreadful on the road, losing all seven of its matchups as the visitor.

As for the Big Red, they have won 16 of their 19 contests on the season. Cornell has won its last four matchups heading into this game and is coming off a 77-51 victory over Columbia, which pushed the team's conference mark to 2-0.

The Big Green currently hold a slim, 101-97 edge over Cornell in the all-time series, but the Big Red have enjoyed plenty of success over the past few seasons, winning 11 of the last 12 matchups.

Producing at the offensive end of the court has been a problem for Dartmouth, as the team is netting just 55.6 ppg, behind a 39.3 percent shooting effort. Robby Pride is currently leading the team in scoring, but the guard is netting just 8.2 ppg. David Rufful is contributing 8.1 ppg, but he comes into this matchup shooting just 37.2 percent from the floor. The Big Green continued their struggles the last time the team took the floor, as Dartmouth posted just 58 points in a loss to Harvard. Dartmouth shot a pedestrian 40.4 percent from the floor, and was led by Ronnie Dixon's 15-point effort. Pride added 13 points, while Jabari Trotter tallied 12 points off the bench.

Unlike their counterpart, the Big Red have enjoyed plenty of success offensively, as the team is producing 75.9 ppg. Cornell comes into this game shooting an impressive 47.1 percent from the floor, and that comes along with a respectable 41.8 percent clip from long range. Ryan Wittman is currently leading the team with 18.2 ppg, while Jeff Foote is helping out with 12.7 ppg and a team-best 8.6 rpg. Cornell's success offensively continued in its recent win over Columbia. The Big Red shot 47.4 percent from the field in the win and also made 8-of-19 shots from behind the arc. Louis Dale led the way in the win with 16 points and eight assists, while Wittman added 11 points and eight boards.

The Big Red clearly have an edge in this matchup and should have no problems getting past the Big Green this evening.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cornell 78, Dartmouth 59

News and Notes

Below, some news and notes for Friday...
  • Rivals.com Harvard at Cornell as one of the weekend's biggest games and notes, "Harvard at Cornell, 7 p.m. Saturday: These are the two best teams in the Ivy League, which is the only league that doesn't have a tournament. If the Crimson can steal a road win at Cornell, you'd have to consider them the league front-runner."
  • Yale's Greg Mangano told the New Haven Register that he believes the Bulldogs can challenge Cornell and Harvard for the league title and one day he can be among the league’s top players. “Once the Ivy League starts it’s a whole different story,” he said. “Everybody was saying the same thing about Cornell last year and we split with them. Anything’s possible. Our team feels that if we put everything together we have the opportunity to win the league.
  • Philly.com writes, "seat of power has shifted to Ithaca, N.Y., where Cornell has won the last two Ivy titles and is a runaway favorite to make it a hat trick."

Big Red Brackets

Below, The Cornell Basketball Blog monitors the Ivy League's bracket and seeding projections until the 2010 NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday.

More on Wittman from Bloomberg

Check out Bloomberg's feature article on Cornell's Wittman and Jeremy Lin (click here).

Harvard Crimson Previews Visit to Cornell

Harvard Crimson
January 29, 2010

According to Frank Sinatra, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

It’s a fitting lyric for the Harvard men’s basketball team, which knows that the road to its first Ivy League championship and just its second NCAA tournament appearance ever—the other coming in 1947—runs through Ithaca, New York.

Bleacher Report: Cornell-Harvard Battle of the Weekend


By Jameson Flemming
BleacherReport.com

Harvard at Cornell, 7:00PM Saturday

Normally, the must-watch games of the weekend lead the weekend preview, but instead Harvard-Cornell as the top mid-major battle tops the list because in theory it's a must-watch. Unfortunately, watching it will be difficult as television coverage is nearly non-existent.

But that doesn't mean this game isn't worth following.


Storming the Floor's Covering The Ivy: Part Two

StormingTheFloor.net
(Part One my be viewed by clicking here)

It appears that somebody decided to make this "Ivy League Week" at Sports Illustrated, with two articles about the league in the magazine: one on Princeton grad and current Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, the other about the Harvard point guard Jeremy Lin and coach Tommy Amaker. Earlier this month, Lin was named as one of 31 finalists for the 2010 Wooden Award.

Harvard Crimson's Ivy Weekend Preview, Picks Cornell Over Harvard


By Timothy J. Walsh,
Harvard Crimson
January 29, 2010

The Ivy League has gone mainstream. This week alone, it’s reached the pages of The Wall Street Journal, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated.

Most of the attention has swirled around the league’s budding rivalry between Cornell and Harvard, but even the bottom-dwelling Ivies are making news.

Cornell Daily Sun Previews Dartmouth/Harvard Weekend

First things first: Senior guard Louis Dale (12) and the rest of the Red will focus on Dartmouth before tomorrow night’s highly-anticipated game against Harvard.


By Matthew Manacher
Cornell Daily Sun
January 29, 2010

The last time these two teams met in Newman Arena, Cornell squandered a 19-point second half lead. Ultimately, the Red prevailed over Dartmouth, 79-76, in a double overtime Valentine’s Day victory last season. The Green was led by the 2008-09 Ivy League Player of the Year, Alex Barnett, whose graduation last spring has left a considerable void in Dartmouth’s lineup. The LAB Era, which fans from Hanover, N.H., refer to as Life After Barnett, has not been kind to the Green. Cornell will host Dartmouth this evening with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m.

Picked to finish in the basement in the Preseason Ivy League Media Poll, the Green (4-12, 0-2 Ivy) dropped its first two Ivy League contests to Harvard earlier this month. Cornell (16-3, 2-0 Ivy) has enjoyed the upper hand as of late, capturing 11 of the last 12 meetings, including eight straight victories. Despite the Green’s recent struggles and tomorrow’s matchup against undefeated Harvard, senior guard Louis Dale will not overlook tonight’s opponent.

Ithaca Journal Previews Dartmouth/Harvard Weekend

Mark Coury, left, a 6-foot-9 forward, has been a defensive presence off the bench for Cornell this season. The Big Red hosts Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday.


By Brian Delaney
Ithaca Journal
January 29, 2010

Over the last two weeks, while healing from a minor groin injury, Alex Tyler's observational skills sharpened. And the tri-captain has seen Cornell evolve from an inconsistent defensive team into a deadly one.

"We're there right now," said Tyler, the 6-foot-7 senior forward who expects to play in Friday's home game against Dartmouth. "Guys are buying into it and flying around on defense."

Bloomberg Features Wittman and Lin


Bloomberg.com

January 29, 2010

Cornell University forward Ryan Wittman remembers testing his skills against a National Basketball Association All-Star when he was nine. Kevin Garnett offered no quarter.

“Kevin blocked my first six or seven shots,” said Wittman, son of then-Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Randy Wittman. “I guess he wanted to keep me in my place.”

Pete Reynolds Feature

For Pete Reynolds, playing for Cornell has meant playing against some of the nation's top teams. Here he launches a shot in a 2008 loss at Drake.


By Nick Rubek
Omaha World Herald
January 29, 2010

ESPN's Joe Lunardi lists Cornell University as one of the country's “road warriors.”

The Ivy League version of the Big Red played at Kansas this month and at Duke a couple of seasons ago.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dartmouth Athletics Game Notes for Big Green Visit to Cornell

Copmlete Game Notes | Video | Audio | Live Stats

Opponents: Cornell, Columbia
Date: Friday, Jan. 29; Saturday, Jan. 30
Arena: Newman Arena, Levien Gymnasium
Location: Ithaca, N.Y., New York, N.Y.
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
Radio: Dartmouth Sports Network (WTSL FM 94.3 and AM 1400)

Know Thy Enemy: Here Comes Your Harvard....(Part II)

In a follow up to Part I, for those interested in reading the full linkage and history of the Harvard Basketball soap opera-- take the links below.

Scouting Dartmouth from the Ithaca Journal


Coach: Mark Graupe (interim, first season)

Record: 4-12 overall, 0-2 Ivy League

Last time out: A late rally came up short and Dartmouth dropped both ends of a home-and-home with Harvard in a 62-58 defeat Jan. 23 at Leede Arena.

Probable starters: David Rufful (6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Soph., G), Clive Weeden (6-9, 220, Jr., F), Matt LaBove 6-9, 235, Fr., F), Ronnie Dixon (6-1, 170, Jr., G), Robby Pride (6-0, 195, Sr., G).

Key reserves: Jabari Trotter (6-1, 285, Soph., G), Josh Riddle (6-8, 215, Soph., F), R.J. Griffin (6-4, 185, Fr., G).

Statistically: At 55.6 points per game, the Big Green ranks 333 out of 334 Division I teams in scoring offense. No player averages double-digit points. ... Defensively, Dartmouth opponents are making just .288 of their 3s. Cornell ranks fourth nationally (.419) in 3-point shooting percentage. ... Dartmouth has had only one 20-point scorer this year (Pride). ... Dartmouth is 0-7 away from Leede. ... Dartmouth is being outrebounded by an average of 7.1 per game.

Of note: Graupe was named interim coach after Terry Dunn resigned from the position on Jan. 8. Dartmouth is 1-2 under Graupe, beating St. Francis (N.Y.) 65-64, on Jan. 18.

Outlook: On paper, Cornell has entirely too many pieces, and is entirely too tough at home, for Dartmouth to pull an upset. But that was likely the thinking last Saturday, when Dartmouth played Harvard "essentially even," Steve Donahue said, in a four-point loss.

"They never quit," Donahue said. "Robby Pride plays hard as heck. Ronnie Dixon plays hard. Clive Weeden plays hard. They don't give up; they make it gritty."

They also gave Cornell its biggest home scare last season, a 79-76 double-overtime thriller. Donahue said the collective penetrating ability of Pride, Dixon and Trotter gave Cornell fits in that game. "They can probably put four guys out there that are quick enough to get to the rim, get fouled or make a play," Donahue said.

But without 2008-09 Ivy player of the year Alex Barnett, this Dartmouth team has struggled to score consistently. If Cornell plays similar defense to its two Columbia showings, those struggles will continue.

Cornell basketball making a run toward coaches top 25 poll


Jack Carey
USA Today
January 28, 2010

They're listed second in the "Others receiving votes" category in this week's USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Poll, just behind Florida State and ahead of such big basketball names as Wake Forest, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Maryland.

The Cornell Big Red, it would appear, are for real, and people are taking notice.

At 16-3 overall and 2-0 in the Ivy League, the two-time defending league champion Big Red are preparing for back-to-back weekend tests against Dartmouth (4-12, 0-2) and Harvard, which at 13-3 and 2-0 is expected to be Cornell's main roadblock to a third consecutive league title and NCAA bid.

While the team is just outside the top 25, Big Red center Jeff Foote says the club approaches the weekend and all games confident that it has proved itself.

"We really consider ourselves a top-25 type of team," says Foote, Ivy League defensive player of the year last season and most valuble player of last month's ECAC Holiday Festival in New York, which Cornell won with victories against Davidson and St. John's. "I think we've played like it pretty much all year. The past couple of years have given us a lot of confidence."

Cornell is one of the nation's hottest teams with 14 wins in its last 15 games, the only defeat coming Jan. 6 at then-No. 1 Kansas. The Big Red led for much of the game before falling 71-66, just missing what would have been one of the biggest wins in program history and the biggest upset of the season to that point.

And, Foote says, the outcome was not seen as a moral victory but, as most other top-25-type teams would view it, an opportunity lost.

"The Kansas game was more of a downer," he says. "Myself and (forward) Ryan Wittman (Cornell's all-time leading scorer) took it especially hard because we felt we could have won that game and thought we were the better team that night."

The Big Red's only other losses have been to No. 4 Syracuse and Seton Hall, and they opened the season with a win at Alabama.

The ambitious schedule was put together in large part, coach Steve Donahue says, because he believed his veteran team could handle the rigors. The Big Red have five seniors among their top six scorers, including Foote, Wittman and guard Louis Dale, the 2008 Ivy Player of the Year and Cornell's all-time assist leader.

"I never would have done that if I didn't think we could compete against those teams," says Donahue. "This group of seniors has proven it for over 100 games. When you've got a lot of very good seniors, you should be able to compete with anyone. Of course, you never know how it's going to work out."

Another thing the schedule did was leave the Big Red with an impressive Ratings Percentage Index ranking, sitting 37th through Wednesday's games. Though that will drop as the Ivy season continues, Donahue hopes the schedule will at least plant a seed in the minds of the members of the NCAA tournament selection committee should an at-large NCAA bid be required. The Ivy League has never sent more than one team to the tournament in a season.

"There's obviously far too much basketball left for me to try to dictate what anybody should think, but I'd like to believe we did everything we could in the preseason," Donahue says.

The Ivy League is the only conference in the nation that does not have a postseason tournament. That puts a premium on the league schedule because there's no chance to earn a tournament title and resulting automatic NCAA bid if a team slips up and doesn't finish in first place.

Donahue, however, says he would like to see the league go to a tournament format. A team that suffers some early losses can see their hopes for a title disappear quickly, he says.

"I think it's not right that everybody else has one and we don't. Our players aren't able to experience that," Donahue says.

But that's not in the cards this year, so the Cornell players know what's at stake each time they take the floor.

"We have a target on our backs, but we're a veteran team that's been through this before," says Foote. "The Ivy season is like a 14-game tournament."

News and Notes: Evening Edition

Below, some Thursday evening news and notes...
  • Check out the Twitter conversation between the New York Times' Pete Thamel and Sports Illustrated's Pablo S. Torre (a 2007 graduate of Harvard). Thamel tweets, "SI breaks out its pom poms for Harvard, glosses lowering academic standards and skirting NCAA rules." In response to Thamel, Torre, the author of the article about his alma mater of which he graduated from just three years ago, incorrectly asserts that Harvard was exonerated of NCAA Rules violations. Torre, who has no legal training or legal experience whatsoever misinterprets and misconstrues both the underlying contractual law and the facts and circumstances of Harvard's alleged conduct. The facts and law are as follows: (1) the NCAA has yet to undertake an investigation of Harvard, hence there was no exoneration of Harvard of NCAA rule violations, (2) the Ivy League did investigate Harvard and found no Ivy League or NCAA rule violations, but crucial here, the Ivy League has no legal authority or standing to enforce NCAA Rules, (3) the Ivy League has incentive (protection of the League's image) not to find rule violations against its members, and (4) the NCAA is still fully within its rights to undertake an investigation and issue punishment on Harvard-- to the fullest extent permitted under NCAA rules.
  • In happier thoughts, the Ithaca Journal writes:

    And you thought Nov. 20 was crazy?That Friday night featured Cornell-Seton Hall basketball, Cornell-Princeton hockey and Cornell-Maryland wrestling -- all sellouts, all within a one-block radius on East Hill.For Cornell fans, this weekend should top that. Lynah Rink will host a pair of men's hockey games -- St. Lawrence tonight and Clarkson on Saturday -- while next door Newman Arena will welcome Dartmouth and Harvard in men's basketball. (The Harvard game is already sold out.) Wrapping things up Sunday afternoon, back at Newman, is a wrestling match pitting No. 2 Iowa State against the sixth-ranked Big Red.At least the NFL playoffs are on hold for a week.

...both of the Crimson’s games in New York have sold out—a Friday night contest at Columbia, and Saturday night’s game at Cornell, the first of two highly touted match-ups against the league’s two-time defending champions.

The Cornell game looked to be a attraction early on because the two are arguably the best and certainly the most visible teams in the Ivy League, with both having challenged top Division I programs so far this season, including Cornell’s 5-point loss to Kansas.

  • The New York Post ranks Princeton and Columbia No. 12 and No. 17 in the New York metro area. The Post writes, in part:

12. Princeton (9-5, 0-0 in Ivy League) — The Tigers have won seven of eight since a 2-4 start and start conference play on Friday at Brown. The problem for Princeton, and the rest of the Ivy League, is that there is no conference tournament and Cornell and Harvard will be tough to top. Cornell has won the league two years in a row and this is probably their best team.

17. Columbia (6-10, 0-2 in Ivy League) —The bad news is the Lions are 0-2 in the Ivy. The good news is both those losses came against frontrunner Cornell. But they are devoid of any significant wins and won’t be a factor in the conference race.

  • A WVBR columnist writes:
There's good news and bad news this weekend in Cornell sports. The good news, there are four incredibly important and entertaining games in Ithaca this weekend. The bad news? Both Friday and Saturday nights, the Cornell men's hockey and basketball games are both scheduled to start at the same time, 7:00 P.M. The #5 ranked hockey team plays #17 St. Lawrence on Friday and Clarkson on Saturday, while Dartmouth and Harvard visit Newman Arena this weekend. What's a Big Red sports fan to do?

***

Granted, the Cornell men's basketball team is good, really good in fact. 16-3 if you were curious. They downed St. Joseph's, Alabama, Davidson and UMass, not to mention the near-cataclysmic upset of Kansas. Saturday's matchup with Harvard features the only two teams that the pundits believe can win the Ivy League. Should Harvard win, there's a possibility for two Ivy teams, the Crimson and Cornell, to make the tournament, an unthinkable scenario in years past.

Big Red Cracks Sports Illustrated's Power Rankings

CNNSI.com's Luke Winn ranks Cornell as the No. 28 team in the country in his January 28 edition of Sports Illustrated's college basketball Power Rankings. Winn also references Cornell in his ranking of Syracuse (No. 1) and Kansas (No. 2).

Sold Out Newman Arena for Cornell-Harvard Game

News and Notes: Thursday Afternoon Edition

Below, some early afternoon news and notes...
  • Cornell's game Saturday against Harvard is sold out. Cornell Athletics notes, "The Cornell men's basketball contest on Saturday evening at Newman Arena in Bartels Hall against Harvard is sold out. Fans of the Big Red can still watch the game online through the Cornell RedCast service. Click here to access RedCast. Tickets remain available for Friday's contest against Dartmouth. To purchase tickets, call the Big Red Athletic Ticket Office at (607) 254-2327."
  • Cornell's road game at Harvard on February 19 is also reportedly sold out.
  • The Harvard Crimson is reporting via Twitter that senior forward, Pat Magnarelli is out for 3 weeks with an ankle sprain.
  • ESPN's Joe Lunardi writes, "Other than the Independents, Ivy League legends Penn and Princeton are the only two teams in the country yet to play a conference game. That changes Friday night when the six traditional weekends of round robin Ivy play begin. Unfortunately for tradition's sake, the Quakers are 1-13 heading into league play. Ironically, interim coach Jerome Allen did not lose an Ivy game as a sophomore, junior or senior (42-0)."
  • WHRB, the Harvard student-led radio station writes:
SATURDAY, JAN. 30, 6:45 P.M. MEN'S BASKETBALL AT CORNELL - 95.3 FM, WHRB.ORG

This could be considered the biggest hoops game in Harvard history - the Crimson have a 13-3 overall record and a 2-0 Ivy mark, the Big Red have a 16-3 record and identical 2-0 league record. On Friday night the Crimson will visit a good Columbia squad before trekking north for Saturday night at Newman Arena. Everyone knows the story of Harvard senior guard Jeremy Lin - who's been featured in Sports Illustrated, Time, ESPN.com, The Boston Globe and myriad other media outlets in recent weeks. But the Crimson will face the Ivy favorite in Cornell, led by senior guard Ryan Wittman, who along with Lin is considered one of the best backcourt players in the nation. The matchup, however, may come down to the big men down low - Harvard will lean on red-hot freshman Kyle Casey and big man Keith Wright to contain Cornell's big bodies in the paint.

WHRB Sports' coverage will begin at 6:45 p.m. on 95.3 FM and whrb.org with Alasdair Wilkins and Scott Reed on the call. They'll host a live pregame show from Newman Arena before bringing you the action in the first half. At halftime, stay tuned for an interview with Harvard alum and Sports Illustrated reporter Pablo S. Torre, who penned this week's SI feature on Jeremy Lin, Tommy Amaker, and the rise of Harvard basketball.

Daily Pennsylvanian on Cornell Basketball


by Brian Kotloff
Daily Pennsylvanian
January 28, 2010

They have more talent than any other team in the Ivy League, with a 25-3 Ivy record over the last two seasons — not to mention two trophies — to prove it.

They’ve downed two Big 5 teams (plus Drexel) and have shown they can play with major conference competition.

No, these aren’t Fran Dunphy’s Penn Quakers.

It’s a new era in the Ivy League, and Cornell, led by Dunphy’s former assistant Steve Donahue, is the reigning king of the hill.

With two thrashings of Columbia on consecutive Saturdays, Cornell (16-3, 2-0 Ivy) opened its quest for a third straight Ivy title with a statement that’s loud and clear: the road to the Ivy basketball championship still goes through Ithaca, N.Y.

Even before the Big Red beat the Lions by 21 points to open their Ivy slate, it was easy to see why they remain heavy favorites.

Cornell rolled through its challenging non-conference schedule, tying the record of the 1970-71 Quakers with 15 non-conference wins, including victories over Alabama, Massachusetts, St. Joseph’s and La Salle. Its three losses came against Seton Hall, No. 4 Syracuse and No. 2 Kansas — each by 15 points or less.

The Big Red also saw the return of its big three in the Class of 2010 with guard (and former Ivy League Player of the Year) Louis Dale, forward Ryan Wittman and 7-foot center Jeff Foote. That trio consists of the Ancient Eight’s top assist man, second-leading scorer and top rebounder, respectively.

Outside of that core, sophomore Chris Wroblewski has emerged as Dale’s backcourt mate. The Highland Park, Ill., native poured in 20 points against both Seton Hall and Syracuse, and currently averages 9.0 points and 3.9 assists per game.

What stands out most about this Cornell team is its ball movement and shot selection — not surprising considering it is a veteran group with seven seniors who play significant minutes.

The Big Red leads the Ivy League in assists (17.1 per game), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3) and three-point percentage (.418).

With a heap of talent and a resume worthy of at-large NCAA tournament consideration, Cornell should cruise through the majority of its Ivy games.

That includes a pair of matchups with Penn, the last team to win three straight Ivy basketball titles (from 2004 to 2007). The Quakers lost to the Big Red by 15 and 24 in their two meetings last season.

Harvard likely poses the biggest threat to a potential Cornell three-peat.

If the Crimson and Big Red split their season series, a tie at the top could send both teams to the NCAA tournament in March, a first for two Ivy teams.

Oh, how things have changed.