Saturday, April 21, 2012

News and Notes: Saturday Edition

 Below, some news and notes for Saturday and the last week...

  • In discussing the proposed Ivy League Tournament with the Daily Princetonian, Columbia head coach Kyle Smith said he was in favor of the idea and noted, "It’s not absurd to think that the Cornell team that went to the Sweet 16, or that Princeton team or Harvard could do something of Butler’s magnitude [reaching the national finals]."  Chris Wroblewski told the Daily Princetonian he was against the idea while Drew Ferry was in support.  The Princetonian cautions, "[H]istorically, the Ancient Eight has rarely had a team worthy of at-large consideration. In most years, only the conference tournament champion would participate in the NCAA Tournament. Due to the volatile nature of single-elimination brackets, the league’s best team over the course of the season might not win the automatic bid. If Cornell had not represented the Ivy League in 2010, it is unlikely that a different team would have been able to match the Big Red’s run to the Sweet 16, which gave the conference lots of national attention."  Also covering the subject, The Cornell Daily Sun writes:
 Ivy League Might Add Tournament to Determine NCAA Bid
Ever since Brown was defeated by Villanova in the very first NCAA tournament in 1939, an Ivy League team has been represented in the prestigious event every year. Although the tournament has grown from just eight teams in its first year, to 68 this year, the winner of the Ancient Eight has always received a bid. The Ivy League is the only conference in the entire country that does not have its own tournament at the end of the season to decide who it will send to the NCAA tournament. However, according to sources from the Harvard Crimson, that timeless method of choosing the Ivy winner may be about to change.
The Crimson reported on Friday that, according to Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris, Ivy League coaches are preparing a proposal for a four-team, two-round tournament at the end of conference play, which would include the Top-4 finishers from the regular season standings. The winner after the two rounds would represent the Ivy League in the NCAA tournament. According to head coach Bill Courtney, the proposal is still a process.
“It’s still early; there has to be a couple different steps in order for it to happen,” he said. “It’s got to go to the [Athletic Director], then go to a committee … So there’s still several more steps before it can possibly become a reality.”
Part of the proposal includes the removal of one game from the team’s’ non-conference schedule, in order to avoid additional missed class time for the players. The Ivy schedule, which right now consists of 14 games with each team facing off twice, would remain unchanged.
As the last man standing in a world of college basketball, where tournament bids are often decided on late-season momentum, it is widely believed that the Ivy League has done the right thing all these years by sending its top finisher to the tournament. However, as the competitiveness of the Ivy League continues to grow each year, coaches in the conference are beginning to change their minds, according to Courtney.
“I know all the coaches in the league would like it to happen,” he said.
One fear of the new proposal would be that the best team in the Ivy League would not be represented at the tournament. This year, Harvard got the conference bid — eventually falling to No. 5 Vanderbilt in the first round — but the top teams in the league were all so similar in talent that any team could have come out on top in an end of season tournament.
“One way you look at it is, the way it’s done now is that you really get the team that’s been the best all year into the [NCAA] tournament,” Courtney said. “But at the same time, when you talk about postseason berths and the opportunity to maybe send two teams to the NCAA tournament, or even the NIT, this new way helps.”
Additionally, even if the top-finisher in the regular season Ivy League standings does not win the tournament, that team would receive an automatic bid to the NIT tournament, according to NCAA regulations.
The coaches’ proposal would pave the way for teams, like the Red, who had slow starts to the season, to make a run in the Ivy tournament.
“It’s easy to say that we’ve been right around the middle of the pack, but we don’t want to have to say that a tournament would bale us out,” said junior guard Johnathan Gray. “We’re a top team in the Ivy League and we just have to show it.”
The Red defeated top teams Princeton and Yale in the regular season, and only lost to Harvard by four in the final game of the season, proving its worth as a team that could have made a run in a potential Ivy tournament.
Courtney, though, does not believe that the change would alter his team’s approach at the beginning of the season.
“I think as a coach you’re always trying to come out and improve throughout the year, so I don’t think you hide anything,” he said. “I think you just play and try to be in the tournament.”
The idea would also potentially benefit teams who are ruled out of first-place contention midway through the season.
“As much as you don’t want to say it, I feel this would entice teams to put a tremendous amount of effort into games that now actually mean something,” Gray said. “It increases the overall competitiveness of the league when teams have more to play for.”
Despite Cornell’s run to the Sweet Sixteen two years ago, and Harvard’s Top-25 ranking this season, the Ivy League is still not given its due respect on the national college basketball level. The change would not only make the already improving league more competitive, it would also gain some much-needed exposure for a conference that often flies under the radar.
“I really like the idea, I feel like it would be good for the league to get more exposure,” Gray said. “It would attract more fans and give more intense vibes to the games.”
“If we can get on national TV, we can show the quality of our product and we can also galvanize the fan bases for the tournament,” Courtney added.
Though the proposal is not finalized yet, the thought itself holds promise for a new age of Ivy League basketball.
“The conference tournament will promote the Ivy League brand of basketball and show people that the league is really becoming a force to be reckoned with in college basketball,” Courtney said.  
  • Cornell's Jonathan Gray has been named to the U.S. Virgin Islands national team.  Cornell Athletics issued the following release:
    Gray Named to the U.S. Virgin Islands National Team
    ITHACA, N.Y. – Cornell men's basketball junior guard Johnathan Gray has been named to the U.S. Virgin Islands national team. Gray and his new teammates will compete in the 2012 FIBA Centrobasket Championship from June 18-24 in Puerto Rico.

    “I'm really excited about this opportunity. My mom, who grew up in St. Thomas, always talked about wanting to go down there with me,” Gray said. “Now basketball will finally give me the opportunity to see the place where my mom grew up.”

    Gray will head to St. Croix beginning on June 1 for a two week training camp before competing in the Centrobasket Championship. The Virgin Islands qualified for the subgroup tournament after winning gold at last season's Caribbean championship in Nassau, Bahamas. With a top finish at the round-robin event, Gray and the Virgin Islands team would qualify for the prestigious Americas Championship.

    Gray, a junior guard for the Big Red men's basketball team, is two years removed from serving as a team manager. He was named honorable mention All-Ivy League as a junior after ranking sixth in the Ivy League in scoring in league games (12.3 ppg.), while posting 8.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game overall. Gray hit for double figures in scoring 12 times with two 20-point games, including a career-high 29 points in a win over Yale. He also scored 20 points in a victory over Dartmouth. He recorded 18 points against Patriot League regular season champion Bucknell and had 14 points against Ivy champion Harvard.

    The Virgin Islands has had past success in the tournament, finishing among the top six 11 times since 1965, including finishing as the runner-up in both 2006 (to Panama) and 2008 (to Puerto Rico). It placed ninth in 2010.

    The two most famous basketball residents are perennial NBA All-Star Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, who has played for the U.S. National team, and Raja Bell of the Utah Jazz. It I unknown if Bell will play this summer for the Virgin Islands.

    • Committed Cornell recruit Braxston Bunce is awaiting notification from Basketball Canada whether he will be invited this summer for the second consecutive year to the Canadian National U-18 Team.  Per the Kelowna Capital News, Bunce has been nominated for Basketball B.C.'s top male high school athlete of the year.
     Plum's Cressler still reaching new heights
    Some say Nolan Cressler has sky`s-the-limit basketball potential. Thanks to a unique graduation gift, the Plum senior will make his way skyward in August.
    Plum`s all-time leading scorer, Cressler will climb 12,979-foot Mount Toll, located in the Colorado Indian Peaks Wilderness about two hours west of Denver.
    "It`s my uncle Doug`s graduation present," Cressler said. "My brother (Andrew) did it, too. My uncle`s really into the outdoors. He climbs mountains, skis and rides a bike to work. It`s a neat thing he`s doing for me."
    Before his daunting trek, the Cornell recruit has one more high school basketball game to play. He will suit up for the WPIAL Class AAAA all-stars in the Roundball Classic on Saturday night at Geneva College.
    Cressler is one of seven local boys in the WPIAL/City League all-star showcase, which features four games — two girls and two boys. Cressler, who led Class AAAA in scoring at 25.8 points this season, put on a show in the Cager Classic on March 24 at Highlands. He scored a record 38 points on 16-of-24 shooting.
    "It will be a good time playing against all these kids I have competed against over the years," Cressler said. "It`s on more of a personal level for me in that sense."
    Cressler said he`ll have to watch out for bears and other wild animals on his adventure. He`ll have some fierce competition in the Roundball, too.
    The Class A team features Lincoln Park`s 6-10 center Devontae Watson, a Temple recruit who should provide an interesting matchup against Gateway`s 6-10 Barnett Harris, also a Division I prospect.
      • Want to see some video of archived Cornell games from 2011-2012? has archived games for Cornell at Maryland and Illinois and a home game against Harvard.
      • Not a member of Twitter? See what The Cornell Basketball Blog is tweeting and retweeting each day by visiting our Twitter Timeline.
      • So how did Cornell finish the 2011-2012 season? Cornell's RPI rank as of April 2 was No. 180 out of 344 total Division I teams. The Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin rankings are No. 209 and No. 202 respectively. Below are links to our game recap sections from each of Cornell's games this season along with notations of postseason bids received by Cornell 2011-2012 opponents.

      1. November 11, 2011 at St. Bonaventure L 58-79 (NCAA Tournament)
      2. November 14, 2011 vs. Binghamton W 76-61
      3. November 16, 2011 at Buffalo L 59-68 (
      4. November 20, 2011 vs. Boston University W 71-66
      5. November 22, 2011 at Delaware L 68-76 (CBI)
      6. November 27, 2011 vs. American L 63-65 (
      7. December 3, 2011 vs. Lehigh W 81-79 (OT) (NCAA Tournament)
      8. December 17, 2011 vs. Albany W 85-82 (OT) (
      9. December 19, 2011 at Illinois L 60-64 (TV: ESPN3)
      10. December 21, 2011 at Penn State L 67-74 (TV: Big Ten Network)
      11. December 28, 2011 at Stony Brook L 58-69 (OT) (TV: Cablevision 118) (NIT)
      12. December 31, 2011 at Bucknell L 60-63 (CBI)
      13. January 3, 2012 at Maryland L 62-70 (TV: ESPN3)
      14. January 7, 2012 vs. Albright W 78-60
      15. January 13, 2012 vs. Princeton W 67-59 (CBI)
      16. January 14, 2012 vs. Penn L 52-64 (CBI)
      17. January 21, 2012 at Columbia L 56-61
      18. January 28, 2012 vs. Columbia W 65-60
      19. February 3, 2012 at Harvard L 60-71 (NCAA Tournament)
      20. February 4, 2012 at Dartmouth W 68-59
      21. February 10, 2012 vs. Yale W 85-84 OT (
      22. February 11, 2012 vs. Brown W 72-63
      23. February 17, 2012 at Penn L 66-73 (CBI)
      24. February 18, 2012 at Princeton L 57-75 (CBI)
      25. February 24, 2012 at Brown W 69-63
      26. February 25, 2012 at Yale L 40-71 (
      27. March 2, 2012 vs. Dartmouth W 70-57
      28. March 3, 2012 vs. Harvard L 63-67 (NCAA Tournament)
      • Below is an updated directory listing of some Twitter feeds associated with the Cornell basketball program. You can also follow The Cornell Basketball Blog on Twitter.
      -Josh Wexler ('88)
      -Bo Buttenback ('98)
      -Steve Cobb ('05)
      -Ryan Rourke ('06)
      -Andrew Naeve ('07)
      -Jason Canady ('08)
      -Khaliq Gant ('09)
      -Conor Mullen ('09)
      -Brian Kreefer ('09)
      -Ryan Wittman ('10)
      -Pete Reynolds ('10)
      -Jon Jaques ('10)
      -Louis Dale ('10)
      -Alex Tyler ('10)
      -Geoff Reeves ('10)
      -Jeff Foote ('10)
      -Andre Wilkins ('10) (inactive)
      -Aaron Osgood ('11)
      -Adam Wire ('11)
      -Max Groebe ('12)
      -Chris Wroblewski ('12)
      -Andrew Ferry ('12)
      -The Cornell Rebounders Club
      -Jonathan Grey ()
      -Miles Asafo Adjei ()
      -Peter McMillan ()
      -Errick Peck ()
      -Josh Figini ()
      -Galal Cancer ()
      -Ned Tomic ()
      -Dominick Scelfo ()
      -Jake Mathews ()
      -Dwight Tarwater ()
      -Manny Sahota ()
      -Dave LaMore ()
      -Shonn Miller ()
      -Devin Cherry ()
      -Nolan Cressler (committed recruit)
      -Braxston Bunce (committed recruit)
      -Holt Harmon (committed recruit)
      -Tim Higgins (committed recruit)
      -Robert Mischler (committed recruit)
      -Assistant Coach Mike Blaine ()
      -Assistant Coach Marlon Sears ()
      -Assistant Coach Arlen Galloway ()
      -Brian Delaney, WPIE/ESPN Radio Ithaca ()
      -Ed Boulat, Ithaca Journal
      -Cornell Daily Sun Sports ()
      -Slope Sports ()
      -WVBR Sports ()
      -Former assistant coach, Jay Larranaga ()
      -Former head coach, Steve Donahue ()
      -Former assistant coach, Nat Graham ()
      -Former assistant coach, Woody Kampmann ()
      -Former Assistant Coach Ricky Yahn ()
      -Former Intern Assistant Ryan Woerner ()
      • Throughout the year we provide periodic updates on Cornell's alumni playing professionally. Below, some updates:
      -Jeff Aubry ('99) (Halcones Rojos, LNBP Mexico premier league/Arecibo Capitanes, BSN Puerto Rico premier league)-As of April 21, Aubry is averaging 2.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for Arecibo in the BSN Puerto Rico premier league. Arecibo is 12-9 and in 4th place out of 8 teams in the league. Aubry, a 6'11" center, splits his time in both the Mexican and Puerto Rican professional leagues. Aubry holds citizenship in Puerto Rico and with Puerto Rico participating in the FIBA 2012 Olympics Qualifying Tournament this coming July, he has been mentioned as a potential member of the national team roster and could find himself in the 2012 Summer Olympic games. A well traveled pro player, Aubry spent several seasons in the NBA D League in the early part of his career with the Fayetteville Patriots and Florida Flame and earned honorable mention all NBA D League in 2002. During his more than a decade of pro experience, Aubry has also played professionally in the ABA (Miami Tropics) and abroad in Puerto Rico (Arecibo, Leones de Ponce, and Santurce, BSN Puerto Rico), Spain (Tarragona, LEB Gold Spain 2nd Division), Mexico (Halcones Rojos and Chihuahua Dorados, LNBP Mexico premier league), Poland (Slask Wroclaw, PLK Poland premier league), Argentina (Libertad Sunchales, Liga A Argentina), Uruguay (Hebraica, LUB Uruguay )and Peru (Alas Peruanas, Peru).

      -Cody Toppert ('05) (Logitravel Mallorca, LEB Gold Spain 2nd Division)-As of April 21, Toppert is averaging 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Mallorca is 14-19 and in 14th place out of 18 teams in the LEB Gold (2nd Division). Prior to joining Mallorca midseason, Toppert averaged 6.0 points and 1.8 rebounds per game during 2011-2012 for Ourense in the Spanish LEB Silver (3rd Division). During his pro career, Toppert, a 6'4" wing forward, has played in the NBA D-League with the former club, the Albuquerque Thunderbirds (now the Canton Charge). He also played in Spain (Ourense, LEB Silver Spain 3rd Division), England (Plymouth Raiders, British Basketball League), Italy (Forli, LegaDue Italy 2nd division), the CBA (Great Falls Explorers), as well as in Portugal (Barriernese, LCB Portugal premier league), Bulgaria (BC CSKA Sofia, NBL Bulgaria premier league), Germany (Goettingen/Scholz Weissenhorn, BBK Bundesliga Germany premier league) and New Zealand (Taranaki Mountain Airs, NBL New Zealand premier league).

      -Jason Hartford ('08) (Unsigned free agent)-As of April 21, Hartford is unsigned for the 2011-2012 season. He was cut during the week of October 17 by Cader Rocha, LUB Uruguay premier league and is now a free agent. He was averaging 12.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, second on the team in both categories. The 6'9" Hartford previously played professionally in Portugal (Ginasio, LCB Portugal premier league), Finland (Huima, Korisliiga Finland premier league) and Mozambique (Maxaquene, D1 Mozambique premier league).

      -Louis Dale ('10) (Goettingen, BBK Bundesliga Germany premier league)-As of April 21, Dale is out for the season with a torn ACL. He was averaging 11.9 points, 2.2 assists, and 2.0 rebounds per game before the injury. Dale is in his second professional season, both seasons in Germany with Goettingen.

      -Ryan Wittman ('10) (Unsigned free agent)-As of April 21, Wittman is unsigned for the 2011-2012 season after he terminated his contract on September 26 with Zastal of the PLK Poland premier league. He played the 2010-2011 season in Italy (Forli, LegaDue Italy 2nd division) and in the United States (Fort Wayne Mad Ants, NBA D-League).

      -Jeff Foote ('10) (New Orleans Hornets, NBA/Springfield Armor, NBA D-League)-As of April 21, Foote averaged 15.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in the D-League for 2011-2012 after being named a starter at the D-League's All-Star Game during February. Foote finished the D-League season ranked 4th in double-doubles and also 4th in rebounds. Springfield finished the regular season 29-21 (1st place out of 8 teams in the Eastern Conference) and was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Canton. Foote averaged 1.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game in 4 games for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets during a 10-day contract between March 9 and March 19. Foote is ranked by the D-League as its #6 overall NBA prospect. He participated in the Portland Trailblazers' 2011-2012 preseason training camp and played the 2011-2012 preseason with with Zastal of the PLK Poland premier league and the full 2010-2011 season in Spain (Melilla, LEB Gold Spain 2nd division) while on loan from Euro League powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel.

      -Adam Wire ('11) (Unsigned free agent)-As of April 21, Wire is an unsigned free agent. He was waived by Vaerlose, Denmark BBK premier league during December. He was averaging 11.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 1.9 assists per game. On November 4, 2011 he was named the Eurobasket Player of the Week for Denmark. The 2011-2012 season is his rookie year.

      -Aaron Osgood ('11) (Unsigned free agent)-As of April 21, Osgood is an unsigned free agent. He was waived by Vaerlose, Denmark BBK premier league during December. He was averaging 11.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. The 2011-2012 season is his rookie year.
      Visit The Cornell Basketball Blog's Community Forum and Message Board to interact with other fans of Cornell and Ivy League basketball. Membership is free! You may also follow us on Twitter.

      Blueprint for Success, the yearbook commemorating Cornell's memorable 2009-2010 season is on sale. Visit the Cornell Athletics website to order your copy today! Or pick up a copy sold in the Cornell Store on campus.

      Fans of the basketball program in the Ithaca area should not miss the opportunity to join the Cornell Rebounders Club.


      Anonymous said...

      Is there any chance of a postseason tournament becoming a reality for the 2012-2013 campaign? Or are we talking a few years down the road?

      The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

      Definitely a possibility, but 2013-2014 seems more likely because of scheduling conflicts preventing the league from moving forward next year with the plan.