Sunday, February 28, 2010

Late Evening News and Notes


Below, some additional news and notes...
Five To Avoid On First Weekend

• Cornell: With the ability to shoot 3s (especially Ryan Wittman) and a big man in the middle who can finish and pass (Jeff Foote), the Big Red can cause big trouble.

  • Slope TV recaps Cornell's third consecutive Ivy League title clinching win over Penn on Saturday night.

News and Notes: Sunday Evening "Ivy Champs" Edition

Below, some news notes for Sunday evening...

Slope Media Recaps Cornell's Win over Princeton

Slope Media recaps Cornell's win over Princeton on Friday.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

THREE-PEAT, Cornell Clinches Ivy Title with Dominant 68-48 Win Over Penn

Below, game recaps from Cornell's Ivy League Championship clinching win over Penn. The Big Red have won three consecutive Ivy League titles. (Photos, Ithaca Journal)

GAME ON!

Get all the information you need about the Cornell Big Red's basketball games this weekend vs Princeton (2/26) and Penn (2/27) with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center (CLICK HERE).

(originally published 2.26.10)

News and Notes: Saturday Edition

News and notes for Saturday evening...

Post Standard: "Big Weekend for Cornell"


By Donnie Webb
The Post-Standard of Syracuse
February 26, 2010

RushTheCourt.Checks in on the Ivy League

(Photo, Ithaca Journal)

Below, RushTheCourt checks in on the Ivy League...

Ithaca Journal Scouts Penn


(Does not include Friday results)

Coach: Jerome Allen (interim)

Record: 5-18, 4-5 Ivy League

Last time out: Zack Rosen scored 27 points, and Penn beat Yale 81-69 at the Palestra on Saturday.

Last time vs. Cornell: Jack Eggleston scored a career-high 24 points; Rosen added 22 and Penn shot a season-high 56 percent from the field in a 79-64 victory on Feb. 12.

Probable starters: Jack Eggleston (6-foot-8, 215 pounds, Junior, Forward), Justin Reilly (6-8, 230, Sr., F), Dan Monckton (6-6, 205, Jr., F), Zack Rosen (6-1, 175, Soph., G), Rob Belcore (6-6, 215, Soph., F).

Key reserves: Darren Smith (6-4, 200, Sr., G), Mike Howlett (6-9, 220, Soph., F), Conor Turley (6-7, 220, Jr., F)

Statistically: In league games only, Rosen is the Ivy's top scorer at 19.1 ppg. He scored 56 total points last weekend against Brown and Yale. ... Monckton had 18 points and 12 rebounds in the Yale win. ... During one sequence against Yale, Penn hit six consecutive 3's.

Outlook: Penn's trip to Newman Arena a season ago ended with the fans storming the court in celebration of Cornell's second straight Ivy League title. The chances are slim that happens again, but the Quakers must find a way to match Cornell's emotional edge. Cornell's eight seniors will be honored before tip-off, and a sold out crowd is sure to make things difficult on the visitors in what is the final regular season home game for Foote, Wittman, Dale and Co.

Rosen has been superb in Ivy play. Cornell must do a better job of containing his penetration this time around, something it did not do in Philly. Cornell must also keep Howlett off the offensive glass, and not allow as many open looks from the perimeter as Penn got in the first game. Penn, which has been saddled with key injuries this year, has played inspired basketball under Allen. That might not be enough with Cornell locked in on a third Ivy title.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Game Recaps: Cornell Closing in on Third Consecutive Ivy Title and NCAA Tournament Bid with 50-47 Win and Season Sweep of Princeton

(Photo, Cornell Daily Sun)
Below, game recaps from Cornell's win over Princeton on Friday.

Big Red Brackets: Friday Update

Under its feature-- "NCAA Tournament Tracker," Rivals.com lists under the games of interest for this weekend:
Princeton at Cornell, 7 p.m.: A win would give Cornell a two-game lead in the Ivy League race and basically lock up the regular-season crown for the Big Red, who will be a trendy pick to win a first-round game if they make the NCAA tournament. A Cornell victory also means the Big Red would finish off season sweeps of Harvard and Princeton, who would be tied for second. Remember that the Ivy League doesn't have a conference tournament, so the regular-season champ would snare the NCAA bid. This would be Cornell's third consecutive NCAA appearance, and you wonder if coach Steve Donahue would be snatched up by a bigger program if that happens.
Below, The Cornell Basketball Blog monitors the Ivy League's bracket and seeding projections until the 2010 NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday.

News and Notes: Early Evening Edition

Below, some early evening news and notes...

Sports Network Picks Cornell by 17


DATE & TIME: Friday, February 26th, 7:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Newman Arena (4,473) -- Ithaca, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Princeton 7-3, Cornell 9-1. Away Record: Princeton 9-4, Cornell 11-3. Neutral Record: Princeton 0-0, Cornell 3-0. Conference Record: Princeton 7-2, Cornell 9-1. Series Record: Princeton leads, 134-77.

GAME NOTES: Ivy League powers collide in Ithaca, New York tonight, as the Cornell Big Red play host to the Princeton Tigers.

Princeton began this season by losing four of its first six games, so the fact that the team is now 16-7 overall is quite impressive. The Tigers did, however, suffer a setback in their most recent outing, a 57-54 loss to Brown last Saturday. They are 7-2 in Ivy action and can draw even with Cornell in the loss column with a victory tonight.

The Big Red have won their last three games and 11 of the last 12 to move to 23-4 overall and 9-1 in league play, good for sole possession of first place. They easily handled Dartmouth last Saturday in an 88-70 final and carry a 9-1 home record into this evening's affair. The club's lone Ivy loss thus far came to Penn by 15 points in what was a true shocker considering the Quakers' struggles this season.

Two weeks ago, Cornell beat Princeton in a defensive battle, 48-45, but the Tigers still own a 134-77 advantage in the all-time series between the rivals.

Princeton has played tremendous defense this season, holding opponents to 52.7 ppg on 40.2 percent shooting from the floor. Offensively, the Tigers are generating 59.4 ppg, and the team possesses two double-digit scorers. Douglas Davis is tops with 12.8 ppg on 42.7 percent shooting from three-point range, and Dan Mavraides checks in with 12.0 ppg. In the three-point loss to Brown on Saturday, Princeton had more than twice as many turnovers as assists and was outscored 18-4 from the foul line. The squad also permitted the Bears to shoot 57.6 percent from the floor. Marcus Schroeder tallied 17 points in the setback to pace the Tigers.

Ryan Wittman continues his quest for Ivy League Player of the Year honors, as the Cornell standout is generating 17.6 ppg on the strength of his 41.6 percent shooting from three-point range. Jeff Foote is often overshadowed by Wittman's scoring prowess, but the big man is posting 12.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg and 2.0 bpg for the Big Red, impressive numbers for sure. Louis Dale has dished out 115 assists for Cornell, and he rounds out a trio of double-digit scorers with 11.5 ppg. The Big Red are generating 75.7 ppg while allowing 64.0 ppg to opponents. Wittman scored 23 points on the strength of 5-of-9 shooting from three-point range against Dartmouth last Saturday, while both Dale and Errick Peck added 14 points. Foote scored 10 points for Cornell, which connected on 57.1 percent of its field goal attempts.

The Big Red will make it very clear that they are the class of the Ivy League by trouncing Princeton tonight. Wittman will light it up as usual.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cornell 77, Princeton 60

News and Notes: Friday Snowstorm Edition

Below, some news and notes...
  • From the LA Times, "The only conference not to have a tournament to decide its automatic berth is the Ivy league. Cornell entered this weekend's play with a 2½-game lead over Princeton. They play Friday night and Cornell faces Penn, the only conference team to beat the Big Red, on Saturday."

Another round of Ivy League play for the three locals who call the Ancient Eight home, and there should be no doubt as to which game is the biggest. Princeton visits Cornell (7 PM) sitting one game out in the loss column, and with one of those losses coming to Cornell a couple weeks ago a loss here puts Sydney Johnson's team in dire straits in regards to that automatic bid. Coming off of a stunning loss at Penn two weeks ago the two-time defending Ivy champs bounced back in a way you expect champions to do, gutting out a 48-45 win at Jadwin Gym. Ryan Wittman led the Big Red with 13 points but don't expect the game to be played at the same pace tonight.

That means Princeton will need more from someone other than Douglas Davis, who scored twenty in that defeat. The next in line: Dan Mavraides with eight. The Big Red have a number of scoring options to make up for one guy having an off night; it could be Jeff Foote inside, Louis Dale on the perimeter or even a long-range sharpshooter like Chris Wroblewski. Mavraides and Ian Hummer will be the most likely guys to step up offensively if the Tigers are to have any chance of knocking off Cornell. But just like the first meeting they've got to control tempo; there is really no other way around that. Princeton shot just 33.3% from two in the first meeting and if the tempo is at more of a Cornell-preferred pace a similar night means the game gets out of hand.

7p Penn at Columbia
The Lions won the first meeting thanks to their three-point shooting, making nine of sixteen from distance on their way to the 66-62 result. Nico Scott was the primary culprit, hitting seven of nine three-pointers on his way to a 29 point night. The Quakers must do a better job defensively against Scott while also keeping tabs on Norwua Agho. Four Quakers reached double figures on the night following their upset of Cornell but they'll need better shooting from Zack Rosen (2-8 FG) this time around. Perimeter shooting decided the first meeting and will likely do the same tonight.

7p Yale at Dartmouth
The Bulldogs look to end a two-game skid at Dartmouth, and despite the Big Green sitting in last place this won't be an easy contest. Yale won the first meeting 69-56 behind 20 points from Michael Sands and outscored Dartmouth 40-19 in the second half to win going away. Neither team shot particularly well from the perimeter but it was Yale's ability to get to the basket that decided the game in their favor. Sands and Alex Zampier will have to lead the way for the Bulldogs on the road tonight, where the home team could receive an extra boost due to the snowstorm.

News 10 Now Previews Cornell Hoops Weekend


(Click here for video)

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The Cornell Big Red have a chance to be the first team to clinch an NCAA bid this weekend when they close out the home season against Princeton and Penn.

Cornell is looking to complete the three-peat of three consecutive Ivy League titles.

Already two championship banners hang at Newman Arena, and Cornell might be just a couple wins away from a third.

If the Big Red beat Princeton tomorrow and Penn Saturday, they'll clinch a share of the title but NOT the NCAA bid.

They would need the Tigers to lose again and Harvard to also lose once this weekend to win the title outright again.

Throw in the fact it's also senior weekend for Cornell and there's even more at stake.

The Trentonian: "Princeton Men Ready for Cornell"


By Joe O'Gorman
The Trentonian
February 26, 2010

Coming off its most disappointing performance of the season the Princeton University men’s basketball team is now facing its most challenging test.

News and Notes: Senior Weekend

Below, some news and notes for Friday...

Game Preview Center

Get all the information you need about the Cornell Big Red's games this weekend vs Princeton (2/26) and Penn (2/27) with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center.

This weekend Cornell looks to return to the "Big Stage"-- the NCAA Tournament.

Trip Down Memory Lane...

Below, we post some "senior class" themed links to posts we previously published here on The Cornell Basketball Blog. Above, Louis Dake's first career game in a Cornell uniform at Northwestern. Cornell beat the Big 10 program 64-61 on November 11, 2006. Dale finished with 7 points while Ryan Wittman pumped in 18 points.

WPRB Princeton Radio Previews Tigers at Cornell


By Doug Newton
WPRB-Princeton Radio
February 26, 2010

The Princeton men’s basketball team is having one of their best seasons in recent memory. The Tigers have compiled a 16-7 record while going 7-2 in Ivy League play. With 5 games left in the season, Princeton has a chance to win

20 games for the first time since the 2003-2004 season, which happens to be the last time the Tigers won the Ivy League title and went to the NCAA tournament. Currently the Tigers sit in 2nd place in the Ivy League, 1 ½ games behind league leader Cornell, who are 9-1 in the Ivy League and 23-4 overall.


Daily Pennsylvanian Previews Quakers at Cornell

Senior center Jeff Foote and the then-No. 22 Big Red suffered a stunning defeat the last time they stepped on the floor against Penn. Tomorrow’s rematch in Ithaca will reveal whether the Quakers have the Big Red’s number.


by Brian Kotloff
Daily Pennsylvanian
February 25, 2010

One would think a team that’s already gone toe-to-toe with No. 1 Kansas and compiled a 14-3 non-conference record would have already cleared its biggest hurdle.


Daily Princetonian Previews Cornell


By Mary Reid Munford
Daily Princetonian
February 26, 2010

This weekend is do-or-die for the men’s basketball team.

After its second conference loss last weekend, Princeton (16-7 overall, 7-2 Ivy League) sits second in the Ivy League behind Cornell (23-4, 9-1). The Tigers will travel to play the Big Red today and will face Columbia (9-15, 3-7) on Saturday. Victories in both games are necessary to keep the team’s championship dreams alive.



Harvard Crimson Previews Ivy Weekend


By Timothy J. Walsh
Harvard Crimson
February 26, 2010

During lay-up lines last Friday night, as posters of Jeremy Lin made their way through the bleachers, Harvard players and coaches stopped for a moment and looked at the crowd—blacked-out and boisterous. They whispered to one another, pointed at people and posters (one impromptu sign read, “Hey Cornell, Andy Katz came to see us, not you!”). Smiles crept across their faces.

I felt chills.

Cornell Daily Sun Previews Princeton/Penn Weekend


So for one last time, make some noise: The seniors will play their last game at home tomorrow. - By: Tina Chou


By Matthew Manacher
Cornell Daily Sun
February 26, 2010

This weekend Cornell’s all-time leading scorer, Ryan Wittman, and all-time assists leader, Louis Dale, will take to the hardwood at Newman Arena for the final time. Nevertheless, this is not the time for sentimental farewell sendoffs. This year’s senior class has attained unparalleled success in program history, but the Red still has some unfinished business left to take care of in its quest to three-peat as Ivy League champions.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

News and Notes: Evening Edition

Below, some evening news and notes...
  • ESPN's "Bubble Watch" lists Cornell as an "at-large contender" and notes:
Cornell [23-4 (9-1), RPI: 49, SOS: 199] Cornell took a big step toward winning the Ivy League regular-season championship -- and claiming the corresponding NCAA tournament automatic bid -- by beating Harvard 79-70 on the road last week. After defeating Dartmouth 88-70 on the road on Saturday, the Big Red maintained a one-game lead over Princeton in the Ivy League standings, and the teams will play at Cornell on Friday. The Big Red has a couple of so-so victories over teams from BCS conferences, winning 71-67 at Alabama and 71-66 at St. John's. It also lost at Syracuse by 15 points and at Kansas by five. Cornell is 0-2 against RPI top-50 foes and 3-3 against the top 100. Its 11-3 record in true road games will help its chance of earning an at-large bid if it doesn't win the Ivy League crown.

Big Red Senior Week.

The Cornell Seniors-- Ryan Wittman, Jeff Foote, Geoff Reeves, Jon Jaques, Louis Dale, Andre Wilkins, Pete Reynolds and Alex Tyler.

So far... two years of Ivy League Championships, two years of NCAA Tournament appearances, four years of class and representing the very best of Cornell University.

Thank you, fellas.

The seniors... as freshmen during 2006-2007.

(originally published 2.21.10)

Brian Delaney, Ithaca Journal: "Perfect Storm of Emotion" at Cornell this Weekend

Below, Brian Delaney previews Cornell's upcoming emotional weekend.

Princeton Athletics Game Notes for Cornell

Below, Princeton Athletics' game notes for Friday's Cornell game in Ithaca.

Big Red Brackets: Thursday Update

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

News and Notes: Cornell Still Clinging to Top 50 RPI Rank, Scout Says Wittman Will Find His Way Onto an NBA Roster

Below, some news and notes for Thursday...

Bleacher Report Previews Cornell Weekend


By Sam Bum
Bleacher Report
February 25, 2010

This weekend will be the last home weekend for the Big Red seniors. They hope, however, that there is still a lot more excitement to come. Cornell can clinch an outright birth to the NCAA tournament this weekend by sweeping Princeton and Penn, getting a Columbia win over Princeton on Saturday, and a Harvard loss in one of their two home games to Brown or Yale.

Cornell will graduate eight seniors on Saturday versus Penn, but the real excitement will come on Friday versus Princeton. Princeton is currently one game behind Cornell in the loss column, and a Princeton win would put them within one half of a game of first place. However, Princeton has one more additional game than Cornell and can make up that half game difference with a win there.

Ultimately, a Cornell win all but gives the Big Red another Ivy League Championship.

With Cornell seniors Jeff Foote and Ryan Wittman both being invited to an NBA draft camp in Portsmouth, Virginia, there should be a buzz around Newman Arena, knowing that this might their last game they see their stars before they're on the biggest stage, the NBA. In addition, Jeremy Lin of Harvard was also invited.

A factor in this weekends Ivy League games might be something totally out of any team's control. The weather for the northeast this weekend is expecting snow, snow, and more snow. More than a foot will drop on Cornell's home, Ithaca, New York, with just a little less expected for Columbia's home in New York City. Travel for Penn and Princeton might be hard.

Princeton will have a matchup with a struggling Columbia team on the Lions' senior night on Saturday, before returning home for their last three games against Dartmouth, Harvard, and Penn. If they win out, they will clinch at least a play-in game with possibly Cornell, or a very unlikely three-way tie with Harvard included. They also have a chance to clinch a birth to the tournament.

Cornell has an easier path if they win their next three games.

Harvard will basically need to win out, and hope for at least two Cornell losses and one Princeton loss.

As nice as it would be for the king to be dethroned, I predict a final of 86-66 in favor of Cornell.

For now, all anyone can do is speculate. The real action starts Friday at 7:00 PM (eastern), assuming the weather allows it.


Brian Delaney of the Ithaca Journal Scouts Princeton, Talks Errick Peck


By Brian Delaney
Ithaca Journal
February 25, 2010

Scouting Princeton

Coach: Sydney Johnson (third season)
Record: 16-7, 7-2 Ivy League
Last time out: Princeton lost at home to Brown on Saturday, 57-54.
Last time vs. Cornell: Ryan Wittman scored seven points in the final 2:14, and Doug Davis missed a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer in the Big Red's 48-45 victory on Feb. 13.
Probable starters: Patrick Saunders (6-foot-7, 200 pounds, Sophomore, Forward), Pawel Buczak (6-11, 220, Sr., C), Doug Davis (5-11, 155, Soph., G), Marcus Schroeder (6-3, 180, Sr., G), Dan Mavraides (6-3, 205, Jr., G).
Key reserves: Kareem Maddox (6-8, 225, Jr., F), Zach Finley (6-9, 230, Sr., C), Ian Hummer (6-7, 225, Fr., F), Will Barrett (6-10, 200, Fr., F).
Statistically: Princeton missed 19 of 25 shots from the three-point arc in the Brown loss. ... Schroeder scored 17 points. ... Davis scored 20 against Cornell on Feb. 13, including 18 in the second half. ... Davis (12.8 ppg) and Mavraides (12.0) are Princeton's leading scorers. ... Cornell and Princeton are Nos. 1 and 2 in the league in turnover margin, at +1.33 and +1.30, respectively.
Outlook: Princeton plays as good a team defensive system as Cornell has seen this year, and it took every ounce of energy for Cornell to rebound off the Penn loss and beat the Tigers 24 hours later. It was as entertaining, and physically punishing, a game that you'll see played in the 40s. Cornell's experienced offensive talent was a key difference down the stretch. The Big Red had an easier time getting better looks than Princeton. Not by much, but it was noticeable.
Princeton can't fall behind early, and it must get more production out of its frontcourt this time around. Newman Arena is a tough enough place to win without the added pressures of Ivy League title implications, but the Tigers will help themselves a great deal by keeping the crowd quiet as much as possible.
With a win, Cornell would open up a nearly insurmountable two-game edge in the loss column over Princeton and Harvard. It's the final home weekend for its eight-man senior class, and emotions will be at an all-time high. As long as that doesn't become a negative, expect Cornell to continue to defend its home court successfully.

**

Had a nice chat with Errick Peck today after practice, for a story on how the freshmen are coming along, and to gauge opinions on what next year's Cornell team could be like. I figured last weekend did a lot of good for Peck's confidence. He had some quality first-half minutes against Harvard, then scored 14 points Saturday night at Dartmouth.

It hasn't been easy for Peck this year, but he's handled the transition fairly well and he's shown a lot of improvement over the last month since the coaches made a tactical change. Donahue took Peck off the first string in practice and put him on the second string full-time. The move allowed Peck to just play ball instead of overthinking or worrying about making a mistake or making the correct "role player" decision, which he's really never done at any level. He more or less has become the second string's top offensive threat, and Donahue admitted his first group has had trouble stopping him on a consistent basis. There's no question in my mind that Peck has a chance to be the guy next year. He's a great talent.

Penn Athletics Game Notes for Cornell

Below, Penn's game notes for its visit to Cornell on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Game Preview Center

Get all the information you need about the Cornell Big Red's games this weekend vs Princeton (2/26) and Penn (2/27) with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center.

Recruiting News

Dominic Scelfo, next stop, Cornell.

Below, some recruiting news from around the Ivy League...

HoopStars Canada ranks incoming committed Harvard recruit, 6'4" wing, Laurent Rivard, the No. 1 small forward in Canada. Incoming committed Cornell recruit, 6'6" wing, Manny Sahota is ranked No. 4.

Incoming committed Cornell recruit, 6'2" shooting guard, Jake Matthews (Greensburg Salem, Pennsylvania) is averaging 20 points per game as his team prepares to head into the WPIAL playoffs.

Incoming committed Cornell recruit, 6'1" combo guard, Dominc Scelfo (New Orleans, Louisiana) led his Jesuit High School team to a second place finish in his district. Scelfo, pictured above with his parents, recently celebrated his senior night. When committing to Cornell, Sceflo passed up scholarship offers from Tulane, Saint Louis, Texas-San Antonio, New Orleans, Army, Texas State, and Louisiana Lafayette. Several other schools attempted to get involved late.

Former Cornell prospect, 6'6" Sebastian Koch of the Christ School in Arden, North Carolina, committed to Elon. Cornell, along with Wisconsin, Penn State, Charlotte, and Wichita State are recruiting his teammate, 6'4" Trevonte Dixon according to SCNow.com.

Hoping to upgrade the talent level of its perimeter personnel, several reports indicate that Harvard has Chasson Randle (Rock Island HS) Rock Island, IL 6-1 and Andre Hollins (White Station HS) Memphis, TN 6-3 high on its list of class of 2011 guard targets. Both players are entertaining a wide array of interest from BCS schools.

Penn is still hoping to add one more recruit to its class of 2010 and the Quakers would like it to be Kevin Panzer (Capistrano Valley HS) Mission Viejo, CA 6-8. Panzer decommitted from Penn during the fall and is currently entertaining discussions with Pac 10 schools, hoping to land a scholarship offer.

Future Cornell guard, Dominic Scelfo defends in district action.

Cornell Featured on CollegeHoopsNet.com

(Above Photo, Tina Chou)
Mid-Major Madness: Cornell



















This is the second in a series we have began running again here at March Madness All Season. We did it last year from late January to the end of the season. "Mid-Major Madness" is simply a weekly column chronicling the small-conference sleepers that I feel have the best shot at pulling an upset or two during the NCAA Tournament. The only real criterion is that a team has to be a projected 11 seed or lower in the Big Dance and from outside the major conferences. We looked at all the non-BCS conferences and teams two weeks ago, but these are the real sleepers for March. Two Weeks Ago: Siena. Next Up: Cornell

After the past two seasons, when it rolled through the Ivy League and won its automatic bid, Cornell came into this year as the heavy favorite to win the conference and potentially throw a scare into a first-round opponent. Many people, including yours truly, felt that the Big Red were the best Ivy League team in years. While they have hit some bumps this season, this team still has all the pieces to pull a first-round upset. Cornell started off the season in impressive fashion, heading on the road and beating Alabama and Massachusetts. However, the Big Red then slumped, losing by double-digits in back-to-back games against Big East clubs Seton Hall and Syracuse. Cornell rebounded by winning nine in a row, including a solid win at St. John’s in December. It set up a surprising showdown against No. 1 Kansas on the road. Not many people gave Cornell a chance, but the Big Red put the rest of the nation on notice, losing by just five. With Harvard playing well, some thought that Cornell might have trouble winning the Ivy – not so much. The Big Red have beaten the Crimson twice by an average of 14 points, although they did suffer the biggest upset of the season, losing at Pennsylvania by 15. As it stands, Cornell is 9-1 in the conference, 1.5 games ahead of Princeton, and 23-4 overall.

For the Big Red, it all starts in the frontcourt. 6-6 senior Ryan Wittman is one of the best three-point shooters in the country, hitting better than 41 percent from behind the arc in each of his four season in college. He can fill it up in a hurry, and has hit at least three three-pointers in 16 games this season. Wittman also doesn’t fall off when going up against good teams – he is averaging 20.0 points against Alabama, Seton Hall, Syracuse, St. John’s and Kansas. He is very efficient from the field and can also score inside the arc. to him is a luxury at the mid-major level – a 7-foot center. Senior Jeff Foote is a go-to big man who is second on the team in scoring, while pacing the squad in rebounding and blocked shots. Foote has racked up eight double-doubles this season, although he hasn’t scored more than 11 points since February 6 and has been somewhat inconsistent in Ivy League play. With that said, Foote is a very effective player from the field who dominates the defensive glass. He is also not afraid of contact down low. Jon Jaques has started 17 games at the other forward position, providing excellent three-point shooting (47 percent) and solid scoring. Off the bench, Cornell has plenty of options. Errick Peck is instant offense in limited minutes, while Alex Tyler has been solid when given the opportunity. Former Kentucky transfer Mark Coury also sees minutes, and Adam Wire is decent on the glass.

The backcourt is not too shabby, either. Another senior, Louis Dale, leads the way on the perimeter. Dale is a solid three-point shooter who has started heating up in Ivy League play. In conference games, Dale has upped his scoring average to 13 points per game, while also continuing his solid distributing numbers. He has passed for at least five assists in 13 different contests this season, and is also decent defensively. Starting next to him is Chris Wroblewski, who is second on the team in assists and is another player who is shooting at least 40 percent from three-point range. Wroblewski has cooled off considerably in conference play, though. After scoring in double-figures eight times in the first 12 games, he has only done it three times since then. Sixth man Geoff Reeves is one of the most effective offensive players in the country, ranking No. 8 according to Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rating. He takes care of the ball and plays solid defense. Like several of his teammates, he is a gunner – Reeves knocks down 44.4 percent of his threes. Max Groebe averages only seven minutes per game, but he also averages four points. Cornell is a very experienced team that has been to the NCAA Tournament two seasons in a row, and brings back many of the same key players from those groups. Offensively, the Big Red prefer a half-court contest, taking advantage of their outstanding three-point shooting ability. They rank second in the country in three-point percentage, hitting 42.5 percent of their outside attempts, and also get 38.1 percent of their points on three-pointers. Cornell ranks No. 6 in the country in effective field-goal percentage, and also take care of the ball and share it well. Defensively, they control the glass and force teams to take difficult outside shots. The Big Red don’t allow many second chances and play the passing lanes well. Their man-to-man defense has allowed more than 70 points just eight times this season. On the negative side, Cornell is susceptible to bigger teams who can defend the perimeter well. If the Big Red aren’t hitting threes, they are in for a long day offensively.

Cornell is going to be a team no one wants to see opposite them when the NCAA Tournament brackets are released on Selection Sunday. The Big Red have a host of three-point shooters that can get hot from deep and make life miserable for an opponent. Furthermore, they have something that not many mid-majors – or anyone in general – has: a very good seven-footer. With Foote down low and Wittman filling it up from the outside, Cornell has good inside-outside balance. A team that isn’t comfortable in the half-court and doesn’t have dominant inside players will be the perfect match-up for Cornell. Fortunately, several teams likely to be seeded four through six fit that mold. Look out for the Big Red in a few weeks.

News and Notes: This Weekend We are Rooting for Roar-ee

We love the Columbia Lions this weekend. We will explain why down below in our late afternoon news and notes...
  • Tiger Blog writes:
    Princeton is 7-2 in the Ivy League (16-7 overall), while Cornell is 9-1 (23-4 overall) and Harvard is 7-3 in the league (18-6 overall). The math still exists for all three to reach 20 wins, which would be a first in Ivy history. The other math is also simple as Princeton is at Cornell Friday night. A Tiger win would leave the teams tied in the loss column; a Cornell win puts the Big Red two games clear of the field.
  • Tiger Blog does not mention that by Cornell's sweeping Princeton and Penn this weekend, Cornell would clinch at least a share of the league crown, the Big Red's third consecutive conference championship. However if Cornell sweeps Princeton and Penn; and Princeton (7-2) gets swept by Cornell and Columbia; and Harvard (6-3) loses to either Yale and/or Brown, Cornell would capture the Ivy title outright and the NCAA's automatic bid. This means, Cornell fans are now Columbia, Brown and Yale fans. Lions, Bulldogs and Bears, oh my!
  • FanHouse.com writes, "Nothing against the state, the region or the team, but you can have Northern Iowa. The same goes for Cornell, New Mexico, BYU, any of those Atlantic 10 folks (Temple, Richmond, Rhode Island, take your pick) and even Gonzaga, always college basketball's little darlings. Give me Butler as the dark horse -- or shall we say the dark dog? -- that will run the farthest during March Madness."
  • From StarNewsOnline, "a rare rant about mid-majors. William & Mary has been roasted for losing to the Dub … but for the second time this month, a ranked mid-major has been beaten by the last-place team in its league. Cornell — bad move losing to Penn. Northern Iowa put up its stinker at Evansville last night. Losing games like this give the mids a bad name. Knock it off!"

Foote, Wittman Accept Invites To Portsmouth NBA Pre-Draft Camp


Portsmouth Invitational Tournament web site

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cornell seniors Jeff Foote and Ryan Wittman have accepted invitations to compete in the 2010 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament NBA pre-draft camp it was announced today. The duo will be among 64 prefessional hopefuls who will compete in front of approximately 200 NBA general managers, scouts and international scouts from April 7-10 at Churchland HS in Portsmouth, Va.

Foote and Wittman will join fellow Ivy League hopeful Jeremy Lin of Harvard at the camp. The four-day, 12-game tournament began in 1953 and has spearheaded the rise to prominence of players such as John Stockton, Dennis Rodman, Tim Hardaway and Scottie Pippen. Six players that participated in last season’s Portsmouth tournament were selected in the 2009 NBA Draft and 57 alums are presently on NBA rosters.

Foote, a 7-0, 265-pound center, is averaging 12.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 blocks while shooting .616 from the floor while starting all 27 games for the Big Red. A three-time Ivy League Player of the Week, Foote has scored in double ! gures in 21 of 27 contests in 2009-10. He has posted eight double-doubles this season. Foote scored 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished off four assists and blocked three shots in a home win over Harvard, posted 19 points, 11 rebounds, five blocked shots and three assists at St. John’s. Foote set career highs of 28 points and 18 rebounds to go along with three blocked shots in the overtime win at Bucknell. Foote also posted 16 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in an overtime win over Davidson to earn MVP honors at the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival. The 2008-09 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, he has been a second-team All-Ivy selection each of the last two years.

Wittman, a 6-7, 215-pound forward, is the all-time leading scorer at Cornell (1,908 points, sixth in Ivy League history) and owns the Ivy record for career 3-pointers (355). A three-time All-Ivy selectio nand two-time unanimous first-team pick, Wittman is a two-time first-team NABC all-district selection. A 10-time Ivy League Player of the Year, he was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2006-07. This season, Wittman was named MVP of the Legends Classic Regional and to the all-tournament team at the MSG Holiday Festival. Wittman also earned a spot on collegeinsider.com’s Mid-Major All-Decade team. He scored 27 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots in a victory at Harvard and posted 13 points, including seven in the final 2:14, to lead Cornell to a 48-45 win at Princeton. Wittman scored 24 points with four rebounds, three assists, two steals and one turnover at No. 1 Kansas. He became the school’s all-time leading scorer with a career-high 34 points at La Salle to go along with six rebounds, three assists and two steals and notched 29 points, including a 35-foot 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer to lift Cornell to a 91-88 win over Davidson. His shot was No. 3 on ESPN’s Plays of the Week. Against Big East squads, Wittman had 19 points and five rebounds at Syracuse and hit six 3-pointers on his way to a 24-point performance vs. Seton Hall. Wittman opened the season with 23 points, including hitting five 3-pointers, and added three rebounds and three assists in the win at Alabama.

You can watch Foote and Wittman at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament by purchasing tickets (on sale beginning March 8) for the games. Click here for more information on the tournament.

"The Jeremy Lin Show"

There is no disputing that Jeremy Lin is a very good college basketball player. But any fan of Ivy League basketball has to appreciate the following irony. Harvard Athletics put together a highlight video of Lin and selected as the background music, "Heart of a Champion," by Nelly.

First off, the obvious. Lin has never won a championship at Harvard. In fact, Harvard has never won a basketball championship at Harvard. Why not just use Queen's "We Are The Champions" if we are going for the absurd.

Our choice for the song would've been this.

Second, it is a bit odd to select a song from an artist with the birth name, "Cornell" -- and it is Cornell University that has won the last two Ivy League Championships, virtually eliminating Harvard on its home floor, and is primed to seize a third consecutive title

Anyhow, nicely produced video package by Harvard Athletics. Lin is without a doubt a super talent. Of course, none of the highlights come from Cornell's dominant sweep of the Crimson.

ESPN College Basketball Nation: "Cornell finds a way to pass the time"


In an age when Rick Majerus finds flying commercial to be the ultimate in inconvenience, college basketball teams don't spend too much time rolling around on buses anymore. They certainly don't take too many seven-hour bus trips. Most journeys that long would take place aboard chartered jets, with caviar, champagne, and Beatz by Dre. (OK, so maybe not the first two.)

Not in the Ivy League, and not at Cornell. The Big Red had a seven-hour bus trip back from their wins at Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend. How did the victors pass the time? Duh, you guys! With truth or dare! Ugh, Mom, GET OUT OF MY ROOM I HAVE FRIENDS OVER:
Like a bunch of teenage girls at a slumber party, we began to play Truth or Dare on Jeff Foote’s iPhone. [...] Truths were revealing, as always, but the Dares proved to be the most entertaining.

Geoff Reeves was picked on early and often: he was dared to simultaneously wear an article of clothing from each participating player until his next turn, then one turn later was required to give himself a toothpaste mustache. I was dared to let a blindfolded Ryan Wittman draw a highlighter mustache on my face. He didn’t do a terrible job either. (The color was green, if you were curious.) The game got old pretty fast, however, and the bus ride sailed along smoothly until we literally hit a bump in the road.
Truth or dare managed to get boring, so the players decided to build a fort with bed sheets -- no boys allowed, and that means you too, Dad, gosh -- and watched "Scream" and "Scream 2" because those movies are, like, totes the scariest. LOL. Then they stayed up way past their bedtime and talked about boys at school. OMG you guys. Best. Slumber party. Ever.

OK, not really; Cornell's bus driver encountered a family of deer, one of which found its run-in with a large charter bus to be fatal. Then Cornell went home, having built its record to 23-4 and retained its commanding lead in the race for the Ivy League regular season crown. Truth or dare? Truth: The Big Red are looking pretty good.

News and Notes

Below, some news and notes...
  • FoxNews believes excellent three-point shooting teams like Cornell and Utah State could take down Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament.
  • DocSports writes, "I wouldn’t want to play for Penn this Saturday. Cornell is the only team in the nation with five senior starters and that group comprises one of the top teams in Ivy League history. So not only are these guys playing the last game of their storied careers but they also have revenge against the Quakers for an emotional loss at Penn earlier this month. If Cornell beats Princeton on Friday they will also have a shot at wrapping up the Ivy League title and a third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth with this victory. If they lose to Princeton, they will need this game even worse. Revenge. Senior Night. Shot at the NCAA Tournament. I mean, does it set up any better?"

Big Red Brackets: Wednesday Update

(Photo, Tina Chou)

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