Friday, June 3, 2011

News and Notes: Friday Edition

Below, some news and notes for Friday...
  • If you follow The Cornell Basketball Blog on Twitter, you may have read our online discussion yesterday with national recruiting analyst, Dave Telep of ESPN. Telep suggests that all college basketball coaches need to "brand" their programs. In our opinion, Cornell already has a unique brand. Set in an appealing college town, on a picturesque and sprawling campus, Cornell is an elite education with more course offerings and programs of study than any other Ivy League or rival institution. Cornell also offers a basketball program that has very recently cracked the national top 25 poll, appeared in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, and clinched three of the last four Ivy League titles and NCAA Tournament automatic bids. More specifically, Cornell head coach, Bill Courtney has branded his program with a style of play that emphasizes defense, scrappiness, playing hard, pushing the offensive tempo and never letting up on any possession, regardless of the score. This last point of "never letting up" is illustrated by Cornell's late season hot streak during '10-'11 in which Cornell won four of its last five games. Cornell is the team that does not quit.
  • A note on Cornell's 2011-2012 schedule. It appears that as many as four of Cornell's opponents next season will have new head coaches. Princeton is among them.
  • The Ithaca Journal covered the announcement of Cornell's recruiting class and writes:

ITHACA -- The first recruiting class of Cornell men's basketball coach Bill Courtney was unveiled Thursday, featuring six players to join four returning starters for the Big Red when it kicks off the 2011-12 campaign in November.

"With the improvement of the Ivy League over the last few years and the addition of these young men, along with returners, we have a great foundation for the next few years," Courtney said in a news release.

The new class features two guards, two forwards and two post players.

Guard Devin Cherry (6-foot-3, 170 pounds) won a high school state championship as a senior at Meridian, Miss., where he was also named the state's Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

The other incoming guard, Galal Cancer (6-2, 175), hails from Albany, where he was a two-time all-state selection at Christian Brothers Academy. He also was ranked among the top 150 high school guards in the country as a senior by

"We think he has a chance to be a special player here," Courtney said. "We feel like he is one of the top incoming point guards in the country."

Ohio residents Ned Tomic (6-7, 250) and Shonn Miller (6-7, 200) are the forwards. Tomic was his league's MVP as a senior at North Royalton H.S., also garnering all-state honorable mention with 22.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.

Miller also earned honorable mention for all-state despite an injury-plagued senior season at St. Ignatius H.S. in Cleveland.

"Shonn will be one of the most athletic players ever at Cornell," Courtney said. "He also has a growing skill set, and his potential is limitless."

Deion Giddens (6-9, 185) and Dave LaMore (6-9, 230) also will join Cornell's frontcourt.

Giddens, a native of Germany, was a McDonald's High School All-America nominee as a senior at Willow Canyon H.S. in Arizona with averages of 11.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game.

LaMore is a two-time first-team and three-time all-league member from Dexter H.S. in Michigan. He was named to the Dream Team as a senior.

  • Cornell's Bill Courtney spoke with WPIE ESPN Radio Ithaca on Thursday afternoon about the Big Red's incoming recruiting class. Below is the full podcast interview:

  • Colgate Athletic Director, David Roach told ESPN in discussing his decision to hire Matt Langel as the Raiders' new head coach, "In the sport of basketball, it doesn’t take a lot to turn a program around... As mid-major teams have proven throughout the country now, you never can tell.... Cornell did it a year ago, so any school like us can do it, too.’’


Anonymous said...

Does this count as Courtney's first recruiting class? Most of the players were on board under the Donahue regime? Of course, if so, they could have changed course once the coach changed, but they did not.

Anonymous said...

no transfers this year. that seems notable, especially given the need for a big man or two.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Each of these recruits are Courtney's. In no way are these recruits part of Donahue's staff.

This is not a knock on either coaching staff, just a factual clarification.

Also, it is noteworthy that Courtney's staff had only from April through the early fall to recruit. Other Ivies, including Penn, Princeton and Harvard, had 2 year head-starts on the class of 2010.

In short, this class is sensational considering the short time we had to put it together and love the upside of some of these guys, particularly Giddens and Miller, both of whom are still growing and are very athletic.

Anonymous said...

CBB, I agree with you that, in the case of Ivy League recruiting, whatever “brand” the coach can create will almost always be dominated by or at least exist along side the brand of the individual school. The names and educations of the schools in the League will almost certainly be the first reason even highly recruited student-athletes attend.

That’s not “an elitist statement,” as Telep accused, it’s a reality. No non-athlete goes to a specific Ivy because it’s got a beautiful campus, which many Ivies do. Students matriculate because of the name on the door and the diploma.

I’ve got to disagree with you that next year’s Ivy League will be “the most unpredictable in a long, long time.” Maybe for second place in the standings but, at the top, Harvard will be a prohibitive favorite. They were 2.8 seconds away from going to the NCAA tournament and return every single player.

Nobody’s ready to give the Crimson the 2012 trophy yet but, if they don’t win, it’ll be a huge mark against Amaker. That’s actually one of the reasons why I thought he might take a new job this off-season. Next year, Amaker has only downside in terms of career prospects. He cannot exceed expectations.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

The CBB agrees that Harvard is the favorite, and rightfully so, but we don't believe they are as far as ahead of the pack as some might think.

There are so many good teams in the Ivy next year that it will be very easy for Harvard to drop 3-4 Ivy games. In fact, with the exception of Dartmouth, virtually every Ivy team has 3 legitimate 1st team All Ivy candidates. It is a loaded league.

Cornell could very well win the title next year. People forget how much the Big Red improved after enduring 5-game and 7-game losing streaks. This team dug down, and turned their season around. The chemistry started coming together and the players began to understand the system.

And as much as we appreciate the seniors, in some cases, their roles declined as the season progressed (Mark Coury the exception). Throw in a new recruiting class which adds much needed depth at point guard and athleticism on the perimeter and we expect this team to take a quantum leap forward.

Everyone said Cornell would dominate in '08-'09 and it just did not happen. Don't be so certain that Harvard is invulnerable and will dominate next year.

It is a new season and anything can happen.

Anonymous said...

I think we're just talking about matters of degree, and that's fine. Of course I agree with you that there are always injuries, new recruits and coaches tinkering with rosters and strategies. The three-point line adds an unavoidable randomness to basketball which doesn't exist in many other sports.

But Harvard, with both all their players coming back and at least the best new big man (on paper, naturally) if not the best overall recruiting class, is as favored as a team reasonably can be. Your analogy with Cornell coming off championship years in '08 and '09 with the roster mostly intact is an apt comparison. Nobody expected us not to be challenged and, indeed, Princeton pushed us to the brink and Penn surprised us at the Palestra.

But Cornell in '09 and '10 is a fair standard for Harvard in '12: not necessarily dominant but a serious, arguably prohibitive favorite. Anything less than the NCAA bid would be a huge, huge disappointment and a big strike against Amaker. He can't afford not to win.

Think about Amaker's future career prospects in terms of Donahue's had we not won the Ivy championship in '10. That's what Tommy's looking at.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Harvard had more talent than anyone in the league last year and still managed to lose the league bid, the unofficial championship.

Every major recruiting service in the country has ranked Harvard's last 4 recruiting classes as the best in the Ivy... and all Harvard has to show for it is a half-ring and a blow-out NIT defeat.

Until Harvard proves they can win the big games, the road games, they remain suspect. Yes, they are a favorite, but not an overwhelming favorite. Could easily see them dropping some road games next year against a deeper league.

Anonymous said...

Princeton was the majority favorite entering this past year. Experience, size and equal talent were used as the reasons. Harvard was thought to be a close second. Research will support this opinion.
Clearly, Amaker is the favorite for 2011-2012. Harvard will have a big target on their back, and will need to demonstrate that they can handle the higher expectations.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Princeton was not a unanimous favorite. For example, YahooSports and Rush The Court both picked Harvard. Additionally, Harvard received 4 1st place votes out of 16 in the Ivy media poll (Cornell received 1 vote, and Princeton the balance). In short, Princeton was a favorite, but there were members of the media that liked Harvard better.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that CBB and Anonymous 5:41 PM are holding mutually exclusive opinions. CBB asserted that Harvard had more talent than anybody else in the league last year and Anonymous said that Princeton was a majority favorite before the season. Both of those statements are true.

Does anybody doubt that if Sydney Johnson had been coaching Harvard last year, the Crimson would have gone to the NCAA tournament? Similarly, does anybody disagree that if Tommy Amaker had been coaching Princeton last year, the Tigers would have been weaker?

I agree with CBB that Harvard has had the best recruiting classes for four years and the best overall talent last season, with little to show for it. I agree with both that Harvard has yet to prove it can win tough games on the road, especially as the favorite.

Nevertheless, my point is the following: Amaker is a weaker in-game coach than Johnson and perhaps several others in this conference. But the talent advantage is there and keeps growing and growing. I believe that, in 2012, the talent gap will be sufficiently large that it will overwhelm Amaker's in-game coaching deficiencies, especially now that Johnson is gone.

At some level of talent advantage, any poster on this blog could coach Harvard to a League championship.