Thursday, July 14, 2011

News and Notes: Thursday Edition

Below, some news and notes for Thursday...
  • Basketball Prospectus is ranking and counting down the top 100 college basketball players for the 2011-2012 season. Several future Cornell opponents have already been ranked, including but not limited to Lehigh's C.J. McCollum (No. 56) and St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson (No. 53).
  • Navy announced its new recruiting class and claims that incoming post player, Jared Smoot, received "offers from Brown, Ball State, Cornell and Evansville, and drew interest from Minnesota, BYU, Purdue, Northwestern, Butler, Nevada and Fordham."
  • The Pittsburgh Post Gazette published an extensive feature on Cornell's Jake Matthews. The Gazette writes:

A year before Jake Matthews enrolled at Cornell University, the Big Red earned its first NCAA tournament win and advanced to college basketball's Sweet 16.

While Matthews was not on that team, his first season at Cornell turned out to be pretty sweet, as well.

Matthews, a 2010 graduate of Greensburg Salem High School, started 11 games as a freshman for a team coming off a run of three consecutive Ivy League titles and NCAA tournament appearances. The Big Red, which lost four starters from the Sweet 16 squad, went just 10-18 in Matthews' first season, but that certainly did not erase the fun he had.

"I loved it," Matthews said of playing at the school located in Ithaca, N.Y. "It was a great experience. I learned a lot, and I'm definitely ready to go my sophomore season."

Matthews is attending what some might call basketball summer school. He is playing in the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro Am League at the Greentree SportsPlex. The league, which consists primarily of Division I players -- Pitt, West Virginia, Duquesne and Robert Morris included -- has provided Matthews with the type of competition most collegiate players don't get during the summer months.

"It's been tremendous," Matthews said. "I mean, you can't really beat the competition. The speed of the game and everything, it will definitely help for the season."

Matthews, a 6-foot-2 guard, plays for SPK Law, which is led by Pitt's Ashton Gibbs and Lamar Patterson. In a game recently against Center Court, Matthews scored seven points off the bench, including a deep 3-pointer from the right wing.

Being a reserve was nothing new for Matthews, who did so about as frequently (10 times) as he started (11 times) his freshman season at Cornell. He averaged 8.9 minutes and 1.4 points per game. Those numbers won't wow many people, but considering Matthews played that much as a freshman for an established Division I program, his early contributions are nothing to undervalue.

"I was ready for whatever my role would be, so I just wanted to step in and help the team however I could," said Matthews, whose grandfather, Bernie Matthews Sr., won more than 500 games as head coach at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.

Matthews took on a Big East team in his collegiate debut, finishing with three points, four assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes in a loss against Seton Hall and Aliquippa graduate Herb Pope. Matthews scored a career-high 10 points in a victory against Dartmouth.

Matthews saw his numbers fluctuate throughout the season.

"My minutes were sporadic," he said. "As the season progressed, I started to play a lot more. I started consistently for most of the last half of the season, but my minutes were still kind of sporadic."

Prior to arriving at Cornell, Matthews had a fine career for Greensburg Salem and coach Paul Sapotichne. A two-time all-section pick, Matthews averaged 19.7 points his senior season. As a junior, Matthews chipped in 16.1 points per contest and helped the Golden Lions reach the PIAA Class AAA title game.

A coaching change didn't derail Matthews' path to Cornell. Steve Donahue, who originally recruited Matthews, coached Cornell in its Sweet 16 run. Donahue, however, took the head coaching job at Boston College shortly after the season, and the Big Red hired Bill Courtney, a former assistant at Virginia Tech, to take over for Donahue.

Matthews said he liked Courtney from the start, and added that even though the team stumbled to a 6-8 Ivy League record, it improved by leaps and bounds by the later stages of the season, evidenced by wins in six of its final nine games.

"As the year progressed, we kind of jelled together as a team. I'm definitely looking forward to next year," Matthews said.

With three seniors having graduated, additional playing time and full-time starting jobs will be up for grabs, so Matthews hopes his career at Cornell just keeps on getting sweeter.

Greensburg Salem graduate Jake Matthews started in 11 games as a true freshman for Cornell University last season.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Matthews is having a valuable summer experience.