Friday, November 23, 2012

Cornell Athletics Game Notes for Presbyterian in Las Vegas

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Game #6: Cornell vs. Presbyterian
Tip off: Friday, Nov. 23, at 1:30 p.m. PT
Site: Orleans Arena (9,500), Las Vegas, Nev.
2012-13 Records: Cornell (1-4, 0-0 Ivy); Presbyterian (0-4, 0-0 Big South)
Series Record: First-ever meeting

Radio: HITS 103.3 FM (Barry Leonard)
TV: None
Live Stats: available at
Live Video: not available for this game
Tickets: check availability by calling (607) 254-BEAR

Cornell head coach Bill Courtney is in his third season at Cornell (23-38, .377; 13-15 Ivy, .464) ... Courtney became the fifth Robert E. Gallagher '44 Coach of Men's Basketball at Cornell on April 23, 2010.

STORY LINES: After a few days to reflect on all the things it's thankful for, the Cornell men's basketball team will return to action with a renewed energy when it completes competition at the 2012 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational this weekend at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The Big Red will play Presbyterian on Friday, Nov. 23 at 1:30 p.m. PT, then will meet either Florida A&M or Longwood the following day.

The Big Red will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak when it meets Presbyterian for the first time on the hardwood. The Big South member is one of two conference teams in Cornell's bracket, joining Longwood. Cornell is coming off consecutive road contests during the four-game road swing over Thanksgiving break, falling at No. 22/20 Wisconsin (73-40) and Arizona State (64-53) over the span of three days. Now it will compete in a pod where the Big Red's season-opening victory over Western Michigan is the lone victory among the four schools so far this year.

Cornell has defended as well as any team in the country, allowing opponents to shoot just 39 percent from the floor overall and 27 percent from 3-point range while blocking 5.4 shots and stealing 7.4 passes per game. Its problems in the 1-4 start have come on the offensive end, where it is connecting on just 36 percent of its shots and 30 percent from beyond the arc. Cornell doesn't have a double figure scorer, though eight players are averaging between 3.8 and 9.6 points per game, led by sophomore guard Devin Cherry (9.6 ppg.). With its top four scorers freshmen or sophomores, the Big Red has gone through some understandable growing pains on the offensive end, but players like reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year Shonn Miller (8.6 ppg., 7.2 rpg., 2.4 bpg.), sophomore classmate Galal Cancer (7.6 ppg., 3.4 rpg., 3.8 apg.) and freshman Nolan Cressler (8.6 ppg.) join seniors Errick Peck (6.8 ppg., 4.0 rpg.), Josh Figini (5.4 ppg.), Johnathan Gray (4.0 ppg., 2.8 rpg.) and Eitan Chemerinski (3.8 ppg., 3.4 rpg.) in forming a solid nucleus.

The Big Red will attempt to get healthy against a Presbyterian team that has played on of the most challenging schedules in the country, dropping its four games to Clemson, Georgia Tech, No. 15 Creighton and No. 24 Wisconsin on the road. Head coach Gregg Nibert's team will be in search of its first win of the year.

• make the Big Red 2-4 on the season.
• snap a four-game losing streak.
• give Cornell a 1-2 record in the 2012 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.
• be the 1,198th in program history (1,197-1,312 in 114 seasons).

ABOUT PRESBYTERIAN: At 0-4, Presbyterian has faced four consecutive major conference schools to open the season. The Blue Hose have dropped consecutive road games to Clemson (77-44), Georgia Tech (52-38), No. 15 Creighton (87-58) and No. 24 Wisconsin (88-43), losing by an average of 30.2 points per game. Presbyterian is shooting 36 percent from the floor and 32 percent from 3-point range while allowing foes to hit 50 percent from the field. It is being outrebounded by 10.2 per contest while forcing just 7.5 turnovers per contest. Jordan Downing is one of three double figure scorers, averaging 11.5 points with a team-leading eight 3-pointers. Khalid Mutakabbir (10.5 ppg., 4.5 apg.) and Joshua Clyburn (10.0 ppg., 5.8 rpg.) are also in double figures. Head coach Gregg Nibert is in his 24th season with the Blue Hose and has won more than 370 games while directing the program.

THE CORNELL-PRESBYTERIAN SERIES: This will be the first-ever meeting between Cornell and Presbyterian on the hardwood.

CORNELL VS. THE BIG SOUTH: Though Cornell will be playing Presbyterian for the first time, it is 3-1 all-time mark against teams currently comprising the Big South Conference. Cornell has faced VMI (2-0) and Winthrop (1-1), while never having met Campbell, Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, High Point, Liberty, Longwood, Radford and UNC-Asheville. Cornell could also face Longwood on Saturday if their first round results match up. The Big Red's last win over a Big South team came during the 2006-07 season when Cornell defeated VMI 99-94 in the first round of the William & Mary Tip-Off Classic in Williamsburg, Va.

NBA SCHEDULE: Cornell is in the midst of playing six games in 11 days, covering four states (New York, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada) and all four continental U.S. time zones (Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific). Cornell opened on Nov. 16 against St. Bonaventure at home (72-68 loss) and two days later lost to Saint Peter's (68-64). The Big Red hopped a plane on Saturday to play at Wisconsin (L, 73-40), then off to Arizona State for a Tuesday game (L, 64-53). Cornell now is in Las Vegas to play Presbyterian and then either Longwood or Florida A&M on Nov. 23 and 24. All told, Cornell will travel 4,400 miles to play its six games.

CROSS OFF ANOTHER STATE: Cornell's schedule in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational has allowed the Big Red men's basketball team to cross off two states on its list of states the team has played in. Cornell's game at Arizona State was the first-ever contest in Arizona, and its two games at Orleans Arena will cross off Nevada. They are the 43rd and 44th states the Big Red has played in. After the 2012-13 campaign, Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Mississippi, Texas and Wyoming will have never hosted a game involving Cornell. Over the years, the Big Red has also played games in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Australia and France.

THE BIG RED AND IN-SEASON TOURNAMENTS: Overall, Cornell is 42-96 in tournament play during the regular season. The program last won an in-season tournament when it dropped Davidson and St. John's to capture the 2009-10 MSG Holiday Classic. The Big Red has also won tournament championships at the 1978-79 and 1967-68 Kodak Classic (both in Rochester, N.Y.) and the 1990-91 USAir-Cornell Classic. Cornell was a perfect 4-0 at the Legends Classic in 2009-10, but due to the tournament format, was not considered to be the tournament champion. Florida (4-0) also finished the tournament unbeaten.

• Cornell is 94-59 (.614) in the last five seasons.
• The Big Red is 51-19 (.729) in its last 70 Ivy League contests over the last six years.
• Cornell is 57-14 (.802) over its last 71 home games, including 52-13 (.800) in the last six years.
• In non-conference games, the Big Red is 43-40 (.518) over the last five seasons.

• Opponents have been under 30 percent shooting from 3-point range in four of Cornell's five games this season.
• Cornell hasn't allowed a non-conference team to shoot 50 percent in 18 straight games, including contests against eventual postseason teams American (CIT), Lehigh (NCAA), Stony Brook (NIT) and Bucknell (NIT), as well as nationally ranked Illinois and Wisconsin and BCS schools Mayland, Penn State and Arizona State. The last non-Ivy to shoot 50 percent or better was St. Bonaventure in the 2011-12 opener. The Bonnies made exactly 50 percent of their shots (27-of-54).
• Over the last two seasons, Big Red non-conference opponents have hit just 98 3-pointers in 19 games (5.1 per game) on .269 shooting (98-of-364). Only twice in 19 games has a team shot better than 33 percent from beyond the arc. That trend continued so far this season, as Cornell opponents have made just 26 3-pointers (5.2 per game) on .274 shooting (26-of-95).
• The Big Red blocked 13 shots in the season-opening win over Western Michigan, the second most in school history behind 14 blocks recorded against Niagara in the 1978-79 season.
• The last time Cornell opened a season with three straight home games was in 1998-99, when the Big Red lost the opener to Buffalo (64-63) before bouncing back with wins over Bucknell (69-56) and Penn State-Behrend (80-70).
• Cornell's 3-point season totals in the last five years represent the top five single-season marks in school history. The Big Red's 217 3-pointers a year ago ranks fifth on the chart. Prior to 2007-08, when the run began, Cornell had made more than 200 treys in a season just once.
• The Big Red has reached double figures in victories in nine consecutive years, the most since hitting that mark 10 consecutive times from 1981-82 through 1990-91. The school record is 12 straight years beginning in 1944-45 and stretching through the 1955-56 season.
• Cornell lost 141 player games due to injury in 2011-12 (Asafo-Adjei - 15; D.Cherry - 4; Gatlin - 26; Groebe - 6; LaMore - 3; Matthews - 28; Peck - 28; Sahota - 28; Scelfo - 3).

• In the last four games, sophomore Devin Cherry has posted 48 points (12.0 ppg.) after scoring a total of 40 points in the 2011-12 campaign, spanning 22 games played.
• Freshman Nolan Cressler scored 20 points in the opener against Western Michigan, the most by a Big Red rookie in his collegiate debut in school history. The previous mark of 18 was set by Ryan Wittman against Northwestern to begin the 2006-07 campaign.
• Cressler was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after the win over Western Michigan.
• Sophomore Shonn Miller recorded six blocks against Western Michigan, a mark that is tied for sixth all-time in a single game for the Big Red.
• Miller had six blocks and three steals in the win over Western Michigan, becoming the second player in school history to have at least five blocks and three steals. Jeffrion Aubry was the first to do it with five blocks and three steals against New Mexico in the 1998-99 season.
• Miller entered the week ranked first in the Ivy League in blocks (3.3 per game) and fifth in steals (2.3 per game). He's the only player ranked in the top five in both.
• Sophomore Galal Cancer is the first Cornell player to surpass 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds with one turnover or less since Wallace Prather against Penn State Behrend (19 points, seven assists, five rebounds, one turnover) in 1998 when he did so against Western Michigan. He is the first player to reach that mark off the bench.
• Over the last two seasons, senior Josh Figini is 16-of-33 from 3-point range (.485).
• Senior Johnathan Gray needs 12 points to reach 400 for his career.

• Senior Johnathan Gray was a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands national team this summer, competing in the 2012 FIBA Centrobasket Championship from June 18-24 in Puerto Rico. He averaged 8.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists while hitting 10-of-21 3-pointers (.476) from the international 3-point line to rank fourth on the team in scoring. The Virgin Islands team went 1-3 with a win over Costa Rica (92-64) behind Gray's 12 points and five assists.
• Gray is a former walk-on who served as team manager during the 2009-10 Sweet 16 season until midseason, when he joined the varsity roster during Christmas break.
• Junior forward Dwight Tarwater's brother, Davis, earned a gold medal in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, England. Dwight was there to see his brother, a three-time NCAA champion and 13-time All-American swimmer at Michigan. At the Olympics, Tarwater swam the third leg of the preliminary round of the 4x200. His time of 1:46.33 was a personal best, and the second fastest leg for Team USA, which turned in the fastest preliminary swim. His leg was the third fastest among all 64 swimmers in the prelims.
• Freshman center Braxston Bunce earned his second straight appearance on Team Canada's Under-18 national team this past summer, competing at the 2012 FIBA Americas Championship from June 16-20 in Brazil. Canada went 4-1, with Bunce averaging 1.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in two contests,
• Men's basketball was one of 11 Cornell teams honored by the NCAA in its annual Division I Academic Progress Report (APR). The APR measures semester-by-semester records for every individual team in Division I with regard to each team members' continuing eligibility, retention and progress toward graduation. The NCAA “commends” teams that have APR scores in the top 10 percent within their sport, with the minimum necessary score ranging from 975 to a perfect mark of 1000 depending on the range of team scores within that sport.
• As a team, Cornell sports a 3.2 cumulative grade point average.
• Senior Eitan Chemerinski (Applied Economics and Management) has been a member of the 400 Club, joining an exclusive group of Cornell student-athletes to post a grade point average of 4.0 or better.
• Chemerinski solved the Rubik's Cube in 2 minutes and 43 seconds during a road trip in 2009-10, a video that went viral on YouTube. Chemerinski speaks five languages, including Mandarin.
• Cornell has had four Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans this decade, including a first-teamer in Graham Dow '07, who was a Rhodes Scholar candidate.
• Recent Cornell graduates have attended Harvard Law (Lenny Collins '06), Cornell medical school (Ugo Ihekweazu '07), Georgetown medical school (David Lisle '06) and Stanford graduate school (Graham Dow '07, biology).
• Cornell has been represented on the five member All-Ivy first team four times in the last five years, with three of those years placing multiple players on the first team.
• The Big Red has had four Ivy League Rookie of the Year selections in the last 10 years, including Shonn Miller in 2011-12.
• Over the last three seasons, Cornell has graduated three of the school's top 13 scorers, the top two assist-makers all-time, two Ivy League Players of the Year, two Associated Press honorable mention All-Americans, an Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, a Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American, three Academic All-Ivy picks and six players who competed in more than 100 career games.

CORNELL IN OVERTIME: Cornell went 3-1 in overtime in 2011-12, moving head coach Bill Courtney's record to 4-1 in overtime games during his three seasons. All-time, dating back to the first overtime game against Penn way back in 1922, Cornell is 38-45 in games that go an extra period. Cornell is 5-9 in multiple overtime games, with the longest game for the Big Red being a five overtime contest against Princeton, won by the Tigers 66-61 on Feb. 24, 1979 at Barton Hall. Cornell is 29-15 in home overtime games, 2-2 in neutral contests and 8-27 in road games.

CORNELL BEYOND THE ARC — 600 AND COUNTING: The Big Red hit six 3-pointers at Arizona State on Nov. 20, its 660th consecutive game with a made trey. With five 3-pointers at Seton Hall on Nov. 14, 2010, Cornell extended its streak of games with at least one 3-pointer to 600. The last time Cornell did not hit a 3-pointer was against Denison in the 1988-89 season opener (0-for-2). Since the 3-point shot came into effect in NCAA play during the 1986-87 season, Cornell has hit at least one shot behind the arc in 708 of 712 games, connecting on 4,447 treys, an average of 6.3 per game. Cornell has hit at least 10 3-pointers in a game 37 times in 94 games over the last four years, including an Ivy League single-game record 20 at Brown in 2009-10.

TALL IVY: Dating back to the 2004-05 season (nine years), Cornell's 76-36 record is the best among Ivy League teams in conference action. Penn is second at 75-37, followed by Princeton and Yale, each tied at 62-50. Rounding out the field is Harvard (50-52), Columbia (43-69), Brown (42-70) and Dartmouth (28-84). Going back to the 2006-07 campaign, the Big Red is a full 10 games better than anyone else in the league with its 60-24 mark. Penn is second (50-34), followed by Yale and Harvard (48-36), Princeton (46-38), Columbia (36-48), Brown (31-53) and Dartmouth (17-67).

STATING THE STATES: Members of the Cornell basketball team represent 15 states and one Canadian province.

FINAL FOUR KILLERS: Over the years, Cornell has defeated some of the most storied and well-known programs in NCAA history, including 34 programs that have reached the Final Four. (Arkansas, California, Cincinnati, CCNY, Connecticut, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Illinois, Kentucky, La Salle, Loyola-Chicago, Massachusetts, Michigan State, Minnesota, New York Univ., Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Rutgers, St. Bonaventure, St. John's, Saint Joseph's, Stanford, Syracuse, Temple, Villanova, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin).

TOUGH SCHEDULE: The Big Red will play 15 games against teams that participated in the postseason a year ago, including six contests against squads that competed in the NCAA tournament. Road games at Duke (preseason No. 8, NCAA second round), Wisconsin (preseason No. 23, 2012 NCAA Sweet 16 participant), Vanderbilt (2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament champ) and American (2012 CIT participant) and home games against St. Bonaventure (2012 Atlantic 10 Tournament champion), Stony Brook (2012 America East regular season champion) and Bucknell (2012 Patriot League regular season champ) will test the Big Red in the non-conference. In addition, four out of Cornell's seven Ivy League foes (Harvard - NCAA, Princeton and Penn - CBI, and Yale - CIT) won at least 19 games a year ago and made the postseason.

CORNELL FOURTH IN IVY PRESEASON POLL: The Cornell men's basketball team was picked to finish fourth in the 2012 Ivy League Preseason media poll. Princeton, last year's league runner-up, was the near-unanimous preseason favorite, picking up 16 of the 17 first-place votes and 134 points total. Defending league champion Harvard picked up the lone remaining first place vote and was second with 109 points, while Columbia was selected third with 90 points. The Big Red rounded out the top half with 80 points. Rounding out the field was Penn in fifth (74 points), Yale in sixth (55 points), Brown in seventh (50 points) and Dartmouth in eighth (20 points). Two media members from each school and one national representative voted in the poll.

NEXT UP: Cornell will play its final game of the 2012 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational when it faces either Longwood or Florida A&M at either 12 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, Nov. 24.

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