Tuesday, August 23, 2011

News and Notes: Tuesday Edition

Below, some news and notes for Tuesday...

Above, Cornell basketball-themed tweets of the day from the twittersphere...

A reminder, The Cornell Rebounders Club picnic is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, August 24. Visit the Rebounders' website to get involved.

Former Cornell star point guard Louis Dale ’10, who was the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2008, recognizes that the stakes are raised when playing a game becomes a profession.

Dale ’10 on Life After Cornell’s Run to Sweet 16

By Lauren Ritter

The past two years in Cornell athletics have been highlighted by unprecedented success for the Red, beginning with the inspirational story of the 2009-10 men’s basketball team and its legendary NCAA tournament run. The squad earned a spot in the Sweet 16 after taking the country by storm with two upset victories in the first weekend of March Madness.

Led by a senior class including center Jeff Foote ’10, guard Ryan Wittman ’10, forward Jon Jaques ’10 and guard Louis Dale ’10, the Red won the Ivy League championship for the third consecutive season. Dale, a three-time All-Ivy first-team honoree and 2008 Ivy League Player of the Year, proved that he was a force to be reckoned with throughout his Cornell career.

Leading the conference in assists (4.8) and setting a career-high in steals (40), Dale had an explosive senior season that concluded with an impressive run in the NCAA tournament. The point guard averaged 23.5 points, 5.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game, and notched a career-high 26 points against Wisconsin in the second round. Leaving the next generation of players with some big shoes to fill, Dale graduated and turned his collegiate basketball experiences into global ones, signing a contract to play his rookie season for BG Goettingen — a professional team in Germany.

So what convinced this Alabama boy to ditch his Southern digs and board a trans-Atlantic plane?

“After I graduated I got an agent and he shopped around to teams in Europe,” Dale recalled. “[BG Goettingen was] interested in me, so I pretty much chose them over a few teams in Belgium and Australia. The German league is better than the Belgium and Australian leagues. Also, they play in the Euro Cup, which gives you exposure to other teams — you play at a high level of competition.”

BG Goettingen is known for its aggressive style of play, often called “40 Minutes of Hell.”

“Our style of play is to press teams and play at a really fast pace with an aggressive full court defense,” Dale explained.

The German league teams play a tougher game than Dale was used to, he noted; however, Dale explained that the pressure to succeed is distinctly different when compared to his playing days on East Hill.

“There’s more pressure when you get to that level. It’s more of a business, so when you lose or win it makes a huge impact financially,” Dale said. “The coach or president of the team might get angry if you lose, so there’s more pressure than in college. In college you won’t get kicked off the team if you lose. In college you win and lose as a team, but overseas they tend to point the finger at one person or a group of people.”

Being uprooted from his teammates was a bit of a change for Dale, but he is handling the transition very well. He credits talking to and spending time with the other Americans on his new team as an important part of adjusting to the new environment overseas.

“It was tough because I was in a new place, in a new country with a new coach and new teammates,” he explained. “In Germany there is no limit as to how many Americans on the team … I was the only rookie, so I had people to talk to about new situations. The transition was easy in that sense.”

Dale seems to be enjoying his new home off the court as well. While he isn’t quite accustomed to hearing German spoken so frequently, Dale finds that he is picking up bits and pieces every day. In addition to the change in language, Dale has been adjusting to a new diet.

“They eat a lot of pork and potatoes,” he explained. “The food is good — Schnitzel is my favorite.”

Though he is embracing this culinary change, Dale admits he misses some of the simpler items that most people take for granted in America, like Skittles or Gatorade. Dale has found ways to keep in touch with his American roots, like watching the Super Bowl last February.

“We were watching the Super Bowl in this bar and it was crazy,” he recalled. “The bar owner was American, so he tried to make it an American scene with Pepsi products and things you miss from home like mac and cheese.”

While he was at the bar with some of his fellow teammates, Dale ran into a few students who were studying abroad including Dennis Hui ’12, who recognized the star point guard and came over to introduce himself.

After the season ended, Dale left Goettingen for the summer and returned stateside where he spent time with some of his former teammates in New York City.

“Over the summer I was with Jaques, Foote and Wittman and we lived together and played basketball,” he said. “Foote and I played in a summer league, and then all of us went to Boston College and played with [former Cornell head coach Steve] Donahue and saw his new atmosphere and the players he recruited.”

Dale has been offered a contract extension by BG Goettingen and will return to play for the German squad this fall.

C.U. Faces Difficult Schedule in 2011-12

By Quintin Schwab

Following an up-and-down campaign in head coach Bill Courtney’s first year, the Cornell men’s basketball team has its work cut out for itself during the 2011-12 season. The Red will face 10 postseason teams from last year, including two Big Ten squads and one Atlantic Coast Conference foe in a five-game road swing over Winter Break.

Cornell struggled to find offensive rhythm and defensive intensity for the first two-thirds of the 2010-11 season before winning six of its last nine games to finish 10-18 and 6-8 in the Ivy League. The Red faced opponents with a collective 53 winning percentage in the rebuilding year after three consecutive Ivy League championships. Using last year’s records, the strength of this season’s lineup is only slightly higher at 54 percent; however, elite opponents are arguably more abundant on the Red’s 2011-12 slate. Cornell faced only one team that earned an NCAA at-large bid last year (Syracuse), but the team is set to visit two such teams near the Holidays this season — Penn State and Illinois. In addition, the Red must contend with traditional powerhouse Maryland shortly after the new year, along with 2010 NCAA participants Boston, Bucknell and Ivy-representative Princeton over the course of the season.

The Red opens the year on Nov. 11 at St. Bonaventure, a team that defeated Cornell, 56-54, on Nov. 19 of last year — the first of eight straight losses for the Red. The team will then host five of its next seven games at Newman Arena against northeast schools, as opposed to last season, when seven of the squad’s first nine games were played away from Ithaca.

After the string of usual Cornell opponents comes the most rigorous portion of the Red’s 2011-12 schedule, starting on Dec. 19 against the Fighting Illini. On Dec. 21, the team travels to State College, Pa. to face the Nittany Lions, followed by a matchup against Stony Brook on Dec. 28. On New Year’s Eve, reigning Patriot League champion Bucknell stands in front of the Red, who will then finish up the road trip at Maryland on Jan. 3 before returning home for a contest against Division III opponent Albright four days later.

Afterwards Cornell shifts to its Ivy schedule with the annual home-and-home versus Columbia on Jan. 14 and 21; the two teams finished tied for fifth place in the league a year ago. The next weekend, traditional Ivy powerhouses Princeton and Penn visit Ithaca before the Red travels to Harvard and Dartmouth on Feb. 3 and 4, respectively. Cornell hosts Yale and Brown a week later, and then hits the road for two consecutive weekends and finally wraps up its season in Ithaca versus the Green and the Crimson on March 2 and 3, respectively.

Many of Cornell’s rivals in 2011-12 are familiar teams who have improved in recent years. Nine of the 28 opponents on Cornell’s schedule this season won at least 19 games last year. Of those nine, excluding the three teams from the Power Six conferences, American was the only squad that Cornell did not face in 2010-11 or during the Red’s three years atop the Ivies.


Anonymous said...

Lou Dale is a terrific success story. As the years pass, Lou Dale and the graduating class of 2010 will no doubt cherish the purity of playing college basketball at Cornell and the memories of what they accomplished, more and more.

Funny how unpredictable recruiting can be. The 2006 recruiting class of Wittman, Dale, Reeves, Tyler, Jacques, Reynolds, and later Foote and Wilkins, arrived at Cornell as a solid class. But, did they arrive with proclamations of "best recruiting class ever?" "Most athletic class ever?" How many total scholarship offers did they have combined?

Yet, the facts show that it clearly was the best recruiting class ever, primarily because every player continued to improve and they played so unselfishly together. No question, they arrived at Cornell as pretty good players; but, just as important, they were also the type of unheralded, high character kids that Steve Donahue recruited who could become tremendous players.

That class also never had the pressure of having to live up to excessive hype, and just played, developed, had fun and won.

What a joy it must have been for Donahue to recruit, develop and coach those guys. From a pure coaching standpoint, it doesn't get any better.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Well said.