Friday, September 9, 2011

News and Notes: Friday Edition

Until another Ivy League team finishes a college basketball season ranked in the top 25 and advances as deep as the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, Cornell's 2009-2010 team continues to remain the celebrated gold standard of Ivy League basketball in the modern era. Above, the starting five from the toast of America during 2010's March Madness. Below, some news and notes for Friday...

Above, the tweets of the day from the world of Cornell basketball on the twittersphere...
  • After Zastal of Poland's premier league, the PLK, announced the signing of 6'9" Phoenix Suns forward, Gani Lawal, Lawal's agent Andy Miller told the Tuscon Citizen, "They were looking for a forward to go next to (former Cornell center) Jeff Foote." Cornell's Foote (class of 2010) is in his first season with Zastal along with Ryan Wittman (Cornell '10).
  • In stressing a need of more school spirit at Columbia, Jeremiah Sharf of the Columbia Spectator refers to the "Beat Cornell" T-Shirts passed out last season at the Big Red's game in Morningside Heights.
  • Take this with a grain of salt, but student writer, Brian Kotloff of the Daily Pennsylvanian picks his Penn Quakers to finish in second place in the Ivy League. He also projects the Quakers' freshman, Greg Louis as a frontrunner for Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Kotloff writes, "Last year [the Rookie of the Year competition] brought us Miles Cartwright vs. Laurent Rivard, won by Rivard on a highly questionable judges’ decision. " Of course, Kotloff is incorrect. The Ivy League Rookie of the Year was won by Sean McGonagill of Brown. And of course, we told you McGonagill was the best guard long before he arrived in the Ivy League when we wrote on November 10, 2009, "By the way, we are hearing from a few sources that Brown recruit, Sean McGonagil is the best incoming guard in the Ivy League next year." In any event, Louis, an excellent recruit, did choose Penn over Tulane, which by the way, for the sake of some perspective, the Green Wave also offered scholarships to two Cornell freshmen, Dave Lamore and Dominick Scelfo.
  • We hear that Cornell's Homecoming Weekend will be a huge recruiting weekend for the Big Red basketball program as several high profile recruits will be on campus to take in the football game and weekend festivities.


Anonymous said...

Every day I dislike Penn more and more.

Also, this came out a few days ago (don't think you mentioned it under news about opponents) but Dime Magazine published a top 10 list of most underrated programs in the country and Harvard was #1. "The Crimson should easily win the Ivy League outright this year."

Here it is:

Anonymous said...

Historically, we had to win two against Columbia to even think about a chance to win the league. Now with the new schedule, we have to win the first four.

mark twain said...

why again was the schedule changed??

Anonymous said...

Harvard should win the conference easily this year. It may not happen because pre-season favorites falter all the time. But Dime Magazine's statement is true; Harvard is an overwhelming favorite this year.

Didn't Penn and Princeton make it to the Final Four? I'm pretty sure you need to make the Sweet Sixteen to get to the Final Four.

Anonymous said...


The scheduling of the H-and-H with the Lions is what it is.

The only possible variation on this would be a league-wide decision to have one of the traveling partner matchups in January, and move the rematch to four weeks later. This would entail starting the back-to-backs a week earlier and have a weekend midway through with only one game. A break in the midst of the six-in-a-row B-to-B weekends wouldn't be bad. And a month between seeing your traveling partner wouldn't be bad either.

As I toured the Princeton campus today, and saw that students were just arriving and classes start Thurs, I was reminded that they are not back in session in January in time to accommodate something like this.

As to my view of seeing P/P in Ithaca in late January, now, Penn and Princeton have to come to Ithaca during the first back-to-back and beat us to put a dent in our chance to win the league.

Road wins in the Ivy League are tough to come by. I'd be OK with this sequence every other year.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

In 1979, when Penn made the NCAA Final Four, there were only 40 teams in the tournament and about 175 fewer Division I teams overall. Also, the disparity between the Ivy League and the rest of the country was not significant. There were no tv contracts for big schools, no sneaker deals, no mega arenas.

Anonymous said...

Penn does not deserve consideration as the gold standard of Ivy teams because "the disparity between the Ivy League and the rest of the country was not significant.". Penn's achievement was devalued because the conference was BETTER? What kind of argument is that? I suppose Princeton's accomplishment is devalued because they were led by a future US Senator.

Making the round of four in a 40-team field still requires beating somebody who made the Sweet Sixteen and then somebody in the Elite Eight. You still need to win four games to get to the Final Four.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

The league was not better in 1979.

There was just parity across the country, just like there is parity across pro football or pro basketball due to salary caps. Without cable tv, mega arenas or sneaker deals, the Ivies were not all that different from the rest of the country in the 60s and 70s, where the NCAA was truly an amateur sports world.

Today, not only do the Ivies face hurdles of academics and scholarships (just as they did in the 70s), but we now also lack the cable tv contracts and many of the other perks that go with playing in the BCS leagues.

Ask any coach in the league and they would agree. 1979 and prior was just a different world.

After the birth of ESPN and the launch of Nike sneakers... everything changed.

For these reasons... no Ivy team after 1979 won two games in the NCAA Tournament until Cornell did so in 2010.

Anonymous said...

Not sure I follow your logic here.

You say that in 1979, the Ivies were closer to the elite teams, and that more recently, a significant gap has opened between the Ivy League and the best teams. (Which is true).

Doesn't that directly suggest that the Ivies were much better able to compete with the best then (which of course is also historically correct).

If being able to compete more successfully with the best teams around is not an obvious sign of the league being 'better' then, then on what basis are you making your contradictory evaluation?

That they wore short shorts then?

Anonymous said...

Cornell beat a #5 seed and a #4 seed, then lost to a #1 seed.

Penn beat seed numbers #8, #1 (North Carolina), #4 and #10, then of course lost to eventual national champion Magic Johnson and Michigan State.

I might evaluate which was the more signficant achievement in the following manner. Both Ivy representatives beat a #4 seed. Cornell also beat a #5 which I would compare to Penn's #8, #1 and #10.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Again, in the 60s and 70s, many Ivies won Tournament games.

Ivies won NCAA games in 61, 64, 65, 67, 68, 71, 72, 73 and 78. So, leading up to Penn's 79 run, it was done quite often by Ivies.

When Cornell won its first round game in 2010, it was the first Ivy to do so in more than a decade and the first Ivy to win 2 games in 30 years.

Anonymous said...

I think that the guest posters are questioning whether the Final Four runs of Penn and Princeton should be so easily dismissed as not comparable to Cornell's Sweet Sixteen finish. CBB is responding that the Quakers' and Tigers' accomplishment occurred in an earlier era when the Ivies operated under less of a disadvantage compared to the major conferences.

CBB's point is well taken that cable television and other qualitative factors have changed the landscape of college basketball. But CBB's primary quantitative evidence offered is the paucity of Ivy wins in the NCAA tournament since 1980.

It's definitely true that the Eighties were generally a lost decade for the Ivies, punctuated by 86-87-88 when we got blown out by an average of about 40 points. Ouch.

But starting with Princeton's near miracle one-point loss to Georgetown in 1989, we've actually acquitted ourselves reasonably well. The Tigers pushed a variety of high seeds right to the final seconds in the Nineties until they finally got over the hump, beating defending national champion UCLA in 1996.

CBB might counter that, hey, near-misses don't count except in horseshoes and hand grenades. I'm not one who is so quick to denigrate achievements like a one-point loss to top-seeded Georgetown.

But whether one shares that philosophy or not, it's somewhat disingenuous to point to NCAA wins as the sole determinant of whether the Ivies are a competitive conference. The Ivies' W-L record in the tournament is necessarily a small sample size.

Nobody takes anything away from beating Temple and Wisconsin (by big margins no less), but they are still just two data points. In the grand scheme of things, the Ivies have not embarrassed ourselves in the tournament since Arizona beat Cornell by 40 in 1988.

My point is that it's somewhat arbitrary and a little too convenient to define the relevant period for comparison as beginning immediately after Penn's great achievement in 1979.

What Penn did and Princeton's run earlier stand on their own as major Ivy highlights which should inspire some manner of pride in all Ivy Leaguers. I'm not sure why CBB is so intent on tearing them down.

Anonymous said...

Just cos people aren't impressed with the same thing as you doesn't mean they're purposely being malicious. I for one was far more impressed with Penn's tourney win than I was with any of Princeton's multitude of close games. Their Princeton style basically assured close games with everybody, and while close games were expected, wins were not. With not so great teams, they'd usually pull out the narrow win. With great teams, however, it was usually a narrow loss. It practically guaranteed narrow games, but we were expected to be impressed with those narrow games that we knew were the default anyway. But IMO it was a completely unreliable way to make sure you actually won, which to me is why I never viewed Princeton as a great team by national standards. They were still small-ponders. In 2010 it felt for the first time that you had a team that was actually expected to win, that was what felt so different about it. It is hard to explain. But they belonged in the big pond and IMO that is what led to actually getting to the sweet 16 for the first time in ages.

I think it's actually useful that we acknowledge this difference in hopes of setting higher standards for the league and creating teams that expect to win instead of expect to maybe pull of a narrow first round only upset once every 15 years and could hardly dream of expecting to do it twice.

While we shouldn't poo-poo their accomplishments, we shouldn't be forced to pretend it they comparable to the Class of 2010's because they weren't. Different standards for what was possible for Ivies were set that year, and acknowledging that the Ivy can produce teams that can realistically be expected to win against a BCS schools is what's inspirational for the future, not whatever the Ivy was doing before. I want to be able to say this, which I think is just the truth though others might disagree, without being accused of purposefully trying to tear others down. We're not allowed to think we did something different without being accused of such things and it's annoying.