Wednesday, October 26, 2011

News and Notes: Wednesday Edition

Below, some news and notes for Wednesday...

  • Above, our Tweets of the Day from the world of Cornell Basketball on the twittersphere.
  • Above, this poster is being utilized by Cornell Athletics in promoting the Big Red's home opener vs. Binghamton on November 14. We found this poster just outside Bartels Hall, the home of Cornell's Newman Arena.
  • The Associated Press writes, "After finishing 21-13 (9-7 ACC) in Steve Donahue’s first year since coming to BC from Cornell, the Eagles lost all five starters — and 10 lettermen in all."
Ex-Badgers forward Vershaw doing what it takes to stay in coaching

NORMAL, Ill. - Getting back to the NCAA Division I ranks as an assistant coach is so important to Mark Vershaw he's willing to serve what he likens to an "internship" with Illinois State's men's basketball program this season.

Vershaw, the leading scorer on the University of Wisconsin's 2000 Final Four team and an East Peoria, Ill., native, joined the Redbirds' staff as an administrative assistant.

Vershaw has been an assistant at Washington State and Cornell (along with Illinois Central College) before spending the past four years as the head coach at Division III Monmouth College (Ill.).

As an administrative assistant, Vershaw won't be allowed to do any coaching, scouting or recruiting.

He can perform duties in the office such as video editing, mailings and anything coach Tim Jankovich wants "to make their lives easier."

"For me as a learning experience, it's outstanding," said Vershaw, 32. "You can be in the office every day and see things develop and how coaches make decisions and all this stuff. You get to really observe and learn. Looking back at the coaches I've been around who have been successful and done it the right way, this is another step."

Vershaw called Jankovich this summer asking if he could join the staff. Jankovich got a good recommendation from Virginia coach and former UW assistant Tony Bennett, who had Vershaw on his staff at Washington State. Vershaw's coach at UW was Dick Bennett, Tony's father.

"Tony said he was an outstanding person and worker and all those kinds of things. It made it easy," Jankovich said. "He's not going to make the money he deserves, but we're thrilled to have him."

Vershaw resigned as Monmouth's coach after last season. His four-year record was 23-67.

"We didn't know what our next step was going to be after our time at Monmouth," Vershaw said of his wife Natalie and their two children. "It was very disappointing I didn't do a better job there. We really wanted to get that thing turned around. But it was a great experience - not the kind of experience you want, but still an experience."

Vershaw had interviews for assistant jobs at South Dakota and Northwestern (La.) State but didn't get those. With his wife a teacher in Peoria, Vershaw decided to give Jankovich a call.

Growing up in East Peoria, Vershaw is familiar with the Missouri Valley Conference, having watched Bradley and Illinois State.

He played two games against Illinois State at UW. His trip to Redbird Arena as a sophomore in 1998 wasn't so memorable.

"I fouled out in 13 minutes. I don't know if I fouled out of another game in my career," he said.

Vershaw's appreciation for the Missouri Valley only grew later that season when UW was eliminated by Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) in the second round of the 1999 NCAA tournament.

"This is a night-in, night-out conference where they come out battle-tested," Vershaw said. "That's why they do well in the NCAA tournament."

Vershaw can observe the Redbirds in practice, and watching forwards John Wilkins and Jon Ekey has made the 6-foot-9 Vershaw, who has put on a couple pounds since his playing days, a bit envious.

"I wish I was that athletic," he said. "They have already dunked more in practice than I did my entire career."

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