Tuesday, August 2, 2011

News and Notes: Tuesday Edition

Below, some news and notes for Tuesday...
  • Bloomberg once again touches upon the J. David Salinas investment scandal which victimized former Cornell head coach, Scott Thompson.
  • Blogging for SwooshNation.com, a newly launched basketball website, Jon Jaques (Cornell '10) lists the best mid-majors for the 2011-2012 season, which includes a pair of Cornell opponents.
  • Speaking of Jaques, the New York Times updates its readers on some former Cornell players. Below is the Times article:

From left, the former Cornell players Jeff Foote, Aaron Osgood, Jon Jaques and Ryan Wittman with an instructor during their yoga class at the 92nd Street Y.

Wittman reviewing details from Cornell’s conditioning program.

From top, Louis Dale, Wittman, Foote and Osgood playing a game of two on two.

Picking Up Where They Left Off

By Jorge Castillo

Coming off the elevator and into the lobby at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, an elderly woman could not resist.

“Wow, he’s a giant,” she said with a laugh.

Jeff Foote, who stands 7 feet tall, and his four former college basketball teammates could not help but laugh with her.

The five friends then made their way onto the elevator and to a court — not a basketball court, but the “cardio court” for yoga. There, the five former Cornell standouts — Foote, Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale, Jon Jaques and Aaron Osgood — settled on undersize mats in the front row of the dimly lighted class, staggering their positions to avoid hitting one another with their arms during the stretches. For the next 1 hour 25 minutes, the five labored through an intermediate yoga class of 13 women and 2 other men as the instructor rattled off instructions with the faint sound of music in the background.

“It’s a little difficult when you’re 7 feet tall versus 5-10 like Louis,” said Foote, who needed special attention from the instructor throughout the session. “We used to do it as a team a little at Cornell, but never quite like that.”

Wittman, the 2010 Ivy League player of the year, said: “We probably should be in a beginner’s class, but we decided to give it a try.” He added: “I’ve noticed a big difference since I began doing it this summer. It helps with flexibility, quickness and durability.”

The five received free memberships to the 92nd Street Y through Jadd Schmeltzer, a friend at Cornell and a Boston Red Sox 2011 draft pick. Schmeltzer’s father, Dave, is the director of the Y’s gym.

The strenuous yoga session on Tuesdays is part of the group’s summer workout schedule, which includes skill drills, two-on-two games and weight lifting as often as six days a week, as four of them prepare for a season overseas.

Jaques played for Ironi Ashkelon in Israel last season but is now an aspiring sportswriter and has blogged for The New York Times and the basketball Web site SLAMonline.com.

Four of the five — Foote, Jaques, Wittman and Dale — were seniors on the Cornell team that advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2010 N.C.A.A. tournament before losing to a Kentucky squad that featured five future N.B.A. first-round draft picks. The basketball team lived in a house together in Ithaca, and these four are living in a three-bedroom apartment in Midtown. (Osgood, who graduated in May, lives uptown.) They have no classes or summer jobs to worry about, so basketball is their only focus.

With so much time together, the five find themselves reminiscing about their days in college. They remained in contact last season, when Princeton won the Ivy League title and nearly upset Kentucky in the first round of the N.C.A.A. tournament.

“We talked about wanting to go back and seeing how far we’d make it,” said Wittman, a 6-6 sharpshooting guard. “I think you are always going to miss it when you watch the tournament. It brought back a lot of good memories.”

In addition to their workouts at the 92nd Street Y, Foote, Dale and Wittman play pickup games with some of the area’s college players at the New York Athletic Club three nights a week, and Foote and Dale play on the same team at Nike Pro City at Baruch College against the likes of Metta World Peace, a k a Ron Artest.

The five will continue honing their games together through the end of the summer before all but Jaques make their way overseas and look to prolong their basketball careers before falling back on their Ivy League degrees.

The 6-9 Osgood, along with his Cornell teammate Adam Wire, signed with Vaerlose in Denmark. Foote is waiting on offers after playing two months with the Israeli League powerhouse Maccabi Tel-Aviv before being lent to Mellila of the Spanish LEB league last season. Wittman, who played for Forli of the Italian League’s second division, is still entertaining offers. Dale, a point guard and the 2009 Ivy League player of the year, will return to Göttingen of the German League, where he began his professional career last season, on Aug. 22 for training camp.

For the four, a shot at the N.B.A. is the ultimate goal — lofty for Ivy League players.

Last year, Wittman and Foote worked out for N.B.A. clubs, and Wittman played in seven summer league games — four for Boston and three for the Knicks. He then signed with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the N.B.A. Development League before deciding to go to Italy.

With the lockout in effect, another opportunity is unlikely to come for at least one more year.

“Right now, I’m just waiting to see,” Wittman said. “My agent is talking to teams now, but a lot of people don’t really know what’s going on because the lockout is changing things.”

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