Tuesday, May 29, 2012

News and Notes: Tuesday Edition

Below, some news and notes for Tuesday...

  • The Bleacher Report suggests that Cornell, Syracuse, St. Bonaventure Fordham, Iona, LIU-Brooklyn, and St. John's should all consider joining up for a New York State preseason basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center.
  • Barry Leonard, the voice of Big Red Basketball, gets a shout-out in the Utica Obersever Dispatch from NBA broadcaster Tim Royce.
  • During Michael Bloomberg's commencement speech at Cornell's graduation this past weekend, Bloomberh said in reference to Cornell's new high tech campus under construction in New York City, "I would say this is the biggest thing that has happened to Cornell in decades, but I know two years ago, the men’s basketball team made it to the Sweet 16 … which sort of rivals it."
  • Jeff Aubry (Cornell Class of 1999) finished with 6 points, 4 blocks and 11 rebounds on Sunday as his Arecibo Capitanes team in Puerto Rico's BSN defeated San German, 98-89, in overtime in the league's semifiinals.  Arecibo leads the series 3-1.
  • Nets Daily writes of Jeff Foote (Cornell Class of 2010), "Jeff Foote credits the [Brooklyn] Nets for getting him to where he is today: near his goal of playing in the NBA. After he played in Israel, Spain and Poland, and tried out for the Trail Blazers, Milton Lee offered him a job with the [NBA D-League's Springfield] Armor. By season's end, Foote was an all-D-League center and an invitee to the Nets' summer league team. And he's grateful for the opportunity, saying he's passed up offers from Europe, where he could have made a lot more money. "I like their organization. Milton Lee has been tremendous for me. He’s been a great mentor and friend and really helped me." Foote and Lee attended Ivy League schools (Cornell for Foote, Penn for Lee) and Foote jokes with Alex Raskin that Ivy Leaguers "have got to stick together."
As we discussed in Tuesday’s NBA PM, centers are hard to find and team’s like the Boston Celtics—who can conjure up a productive big man like Greg Stiemsma—have a leg up on the competition.
The Brooklyn Nets’ efforts to develop their own seven-footer have led them to former Cornell standout Jeff Foote, who spent most of the past season with the team’s D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor.
But Foote’s pursuit of a guaranteed NBA contract isn’t quite typical. Unlike many D-Leaguers, who joined the league out of college, Foote was signed to a three-year deal by legendary Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Unfortunately, things never worked out for Foote in Tel Aviv. He was a star player on the greatest men’s team in Cornell history (the Big Red made it to the Sweet 16 in 2010, where they fell to the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats), but coach David Blatt never found a role for the two-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year.
“Maccabi Tel Aviv is a big-name club,” Foote told HOOPSWORLD at the Nets’ free agent mini-camp. “It’s a lot of pressure. Right out of college, it’s kind of a different transition. There’s so much more pressure and much more responsibility.
“You don’t know anybody,” he continued. “I relied heavily on my teammates while I was there: Richard Hendrix, Doron Perkins, Jeremy Pargo. They kind of helped me through it and since then I’ve grown a lot physically and mentally.”
In November of 2010 Maccabi Tel Aviv loaned Foote to the Spanish Club Melilla Baloncesto and, following that, he opted out of his Maccabi contract and signed a one-year deal with Zastal Zielona Góra before the 2011-2012 season. However, Foote backed out when he got a tryout with the Portland Trail Blazers, and while he wasn’t able to make the team, he did sign with the D-League’s Springfield Armor. Foote even went on to ink a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Hornets, appearing briefly in four games.
Rather than return to Europe, though, Foote went right back to Springfield, where he had developed a good working relationship with Nets general manager of minor league operations Milton Lee.
“Being with the Springfield Armor, the Nets affiliate, I saw guys like Jerry Smith go up and Dennis Horner go up, so I’ve had a pretty close connection to the Nets,” said Foote, who has signed on to play for the Nets’ summer league team in Orlando this July. “I like their organization. Milton Lee has been tremendous for me. He’s been a great mentor and friend and really helped me.”
And, like Foote, Lee attended an Ivy League school (Penn), which prompted Foote to joke that Ivy Leaguers “have got to stick together.”
But Lee’s interest in Foote is more than just some affinity for an athletic conference. Foote has displayed significant progress with the Armor, both physically and on the court.
“At Cornell I finished up at about 250 (pounds),” said the seven-footer. “Right now I’m about 265. My goal for the end of the summer is to end up around 275, 280. But it’s got to be a good 275, 280. If I end up 265, that’s fine because right now I feel pretty comfortable with my body weight.”
Over 42 games with the Armor, Foote averaged 14.6 points, nine rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 54 percent from the field. He still struggles at the foul line (55.1 percent last year), but he now has the advantage of three years of college experience followed by a stint in Europe and 42 D-League games. In other words, he has the perfect pedigree for someone hoping to ascend to the NBA.
“To specifically gear yourself toward the NBA, it’s better,” Foote said of the D-League. “In Europe, it’s so much more of a power game. The absence of a defensive three-seconds (rule) congests the lane so it becomes more of a shooter’s game out there. The bigs over there are a lot more heavy. With Maccabi Tel Aviv I was with Sofoklis Schortsanitis, who is 400 pounds (his listed weight is 345). You know, you don’t have many of those guys in the NBA. Sadly, there’s a few of them over in Europe. It’s much more of a power game as opposed to the NBA where it’s speed and quickness as well as power.
“I feel like the D-League is a better prep for the NBA than Europe but there’s a lot of great leagues over there. I don’t want to discount anything like that.”
In fact, Foote said he’s received “a couple” of offers to return to Europe—deals that would assuredly be more lucrative than returning to the D-League. But money isn’t Foote’s biggest motivating factor. He’d prefer to go to an NBA team—and not just somewhere where he’d end up sitting on the bench. He’s hoping for a situation like the one former D-Leaguer Gerald Green found himself in this season when the Nets called him up and immediately started giving him regular minutes.
“I want to actually play in this league,” Foote said. “I don’t want to just be there on the bench.”
Foote is hoping that the Nets can be that team (“I’m very happy here”) and he thinks there’s a future for him in Brooklyn.
“If the cards fall into place and I get a training camp invite, Brooklyn is probably where I’ll be,” he said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Ivy Leaguers did a better job of "sticking together," Jeff Foote would still be playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv because Dave Blatt is a Princeton grad.