Sunday, December 23, 2012

Game Recap: Cornell 57, Boston University 70



 Box Score

BOSTON – Career scoring days by Devin Cherry and Dwight Tarwater and a terrific performance from the Big Red bench was not enough to get Cornell a victory at Boston University on Saturday afternoon, as the Terriers pulled away for a 70-57 win at Case Gymnasium.

Cherry set a new career high for scoring with 16 points and Tarwater topped his previous career best with 11, but the Big Red offense went cold midway through the second half with the contest tied at 46-46 as the Terriers went on an 11-0 run late to seal the game.

“We're probably nine equal guys,” Cornell coach Bill Courtney said of the bench scoring. “It can be a different guy's night every night. It's probably something we'll continue to do.”

Cornell (4-8) also committed 10 turnovers in the half to the six turnovers for Boston University (5-6). The Terriers converted those Cornell turnovers into 13 points, and the Big Red shot 37 percent in the period.

Boston University evened the lifetime series against Cornell and now holds a 2-2 record all-time against the Big Red.

Playing its third game in six days – the first two against major conference schools Vanderbilt and No. 1 Duke – the Big Red starters combined for just nine points. Eight of those points came from Shonn Miller and one was scored by Eitan Chemerinski. Miller led the Big Red in rebounds for the fifth consecutive game, bringing down 10 boards.

Saturday's game began in the same way as Wednesday's game at Duke. The Big Red committed four turnovers in the first 2:50, but the Terriers were unable to turn any of those into points.

After a slow start, the Big Red got its offense going midway through the half. Trailing 13-10, Cornell scored eight of the next 11 points. Tarwater had two three-pointers in that span, and the Big Red turned a three-point deficit into a five-point advantage. BU had multiple turnovers during that stretch, and Cornell ended the first half with 14 points off turnovers.

The Big Red bench was stellar in the first 20 minutes, as the team's top three scorers were not starters. Tarwater ended the half with 11 points thanks to three three-pointers, and Errick Peck added eight points and three rebounds.

Cherry also had seven points, and their 26 combined points left just nine between the other eight Big Red players who had seen time. Tarwater surpassed his previous career high of 10 points before the first half expired. Galal Cancer also added six points off the bench by game's end.

But in the second half, Cornell was unable to hold onto the lead. Cherry scored nine more points in the half to surpass his career high by two points, but Boston University shot 52.4 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes including 5 of 11 from long range. With the contest tied at 46-46, the Terriers scored the next 11 points including back-to-back threes from Malik Thomas. When the game had ended, BU outscored Cornell 40-22 in the half.

BU's D.J. Irving led all scorers with 23 points – the second-most Cornell has allowed from any opponent this season -- and Thomas added 17 on a 5 for 5 performance from beyond the arc.

The Big Red will return to the court after nearly a week off for Christmas, traveling to Loretto, Pa., to take on St. Francis on Friday. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.


Dec. 22, 2012
Box Score | Video Highlights | M. Thomas' postgame comments
BOSTON - Trailing 46-44 with 8:38 remaining in regulation, the Boston University men's basketball scored the game's next 13 points en route to a 70-57 victory over Cornell on Saturday afternoon at Case Gym. With the win, BU (5-6) enters the holiday break having won five of its last six non-conference games, a feat last accomplished at the start of the 2004-05 season.

Junior D.J. Irving went 7-of-10 from the field and 8-of-10 at the line to lead all players with 23 points, while sophomore Malik Thomas contributed all of his season-high 17 points in the second half. The 6-foot-7 wingman was on fire, hitting a career-high five 3-pointers on five attempts. Freshman Maurice Watson Jr. set up four of them with drives to the basket to finish with a game-high seven assists against two turnovers.

Owning a 35-30 lead at the half after shooting 51.9 percent from the field, Cornell (4-8) was held to just 37.0 percent in the second. Devin Cherry was one of three players in double figures with 16 points. Errick Peck and Dwight Tarwater were the other two at 12 and 11 points, respectively. Shonn Miller was one field goal shy of a double-double with eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds, as the Big Red won the battle at the boards, 28-26.

The teams battled back and forth to open the game with Watson's jumper giving #BU a 13-10 lead with 11:43 remaining. The Big Red responded with a 10-1 run behind two treys from Tarwater to move ahead, 20-14 at 8:39.

Tarwater's tip-in five minutes later gave Cornell its largest lead of the game, 30-22. He recorded his third and final trey with four seconds left to give Cornell a 35-30 advantage entering the locker room.

Despite the teams shooting over 47 percent, the first half was sloppy as they both recorded nine turnovers apiece. BU kept the miscues to a minimum in the second though with just six against the Big Red's 10.

Trailing 37-32 with 16:41 remaining, BU went on a 10-2 spurt over the following three minutes with Thomas hitting his first two bombs to give BU the 42-39 lead.

Cherry scored Cornell's next seven points and used a layup to push the Big Red back ahead, 46-44, before the Terriers took control of the game. Irving started the run with back-to-back baskets and then freshman Justin Alston hit two free throws before Thomas added two more 3-pointers.

Trailing 57-46 with 4:33 remaining, Cherry got the layup and helped Cornell get the defensive stop on the next possession. However, the Terriers prevented any chance of a rally with freshman John Papale swiping Cherry's pocket. Watson grabbed the ball and sent a bounce pass to junior Dom Morris, who threw down a thunderous dunk to bring the crowd to its feet.

Feeding off the energy, BU forced Cherry into a tough a shot and then found Thomas in the corner for his fifth and final 3-pointer. The Terriers shot 52.4 percent in the second half to finish 21-of-42 (.500) from the field and 9-of-19 (.474) behind the arc.

A key statistic came at the free throw line, as BU went 19-of-23 (.826) from the charity stripe while Cornell managed just five attempts the entire contest. Cornell scored nine second-chance points in the first half but was limited to four in the second.

Following the victory, the Terriers will next travel to the UCF Tournament in Orlando, Fla. BU will first face off against defending Atlantic Sun champion Belmont on Friday (Dec. 28) before playing against either the host Golden Knights or Howard on Saturday, Dec. 29.


BOSTON — Saturday afternoon’s game was not the way the Cornell University men’s basketball would have liked to head into the Christmas break.
The Big Red dropped its final game before the holiday, 70-57, against Boston University in Case Gymnasium. BU (5-6) went on a 13-0 run late in the second half to put the game away.
The loss wrapped up a 0-3 week for the Big Red (4-8), and it also highlighted the miscues the team needs to fix before Ivy League play: Turnovers and inconsistent defense.
“We have stretches where we show that we’re a really good team,” sophomore guard Devin Cherry said. “We have to really put it together. The inconsistencies that we have, we just have to fix those problems.”
Cherry led the Big Red with 16 points off the bench, shooting 7 of 14 from the floor. Errick Peck (12 points) and Dwight Tarwater (11 points) also provided a boost off the bench on a night when the starters scored a combined nine points.
Saturday’s game wrapped up a week-long road trip for the Big Red. They played at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday night and at top-ranked Duke University in Durham, N.C., on Wednesday night. Vanderbilt handed the Big Red a 66-55 defeat, while Duke turned an 11-point halftime lead into an 88-47 rout.
Following the game at Duke, a game against Boston seemed like an opportunity to clean up the deficiencies that tend to come to the forefront against the No. 1 team in the country. Instead the Big Red showed more of the same issues that plagued them earlier in the week.
“We looked at film from (the Duke) game, and a lot of our turnovers were from within ourselves,” Cherry said. “It wasn’t anything another team was doing. Basically, we’ve just got to come out and play better. We’re just not playing that well right now. We’re a good team. We’ve just got to put it together.”
Junior forward Dwight Tarwater lead a bench brigade that scored 30 of the Big Red’s 35 first-half points. Tarwater scored 11 points in the half on 4 of 7 shooting (3 of 5 on 3-pointers). Cornell’s bench has outscored the opposition’s in 11 of 12 games this season.
 The Big Red grabbed a 35-30 lead at halftime, but the Terriers went on a 13-0 run beginning with a jumper by guard D.J. Irving with 8:37 left to play. That jumper tied the game at 46 and sparked the Terriers to a 57-46 lead with 4:33 remaining.
That run also epitomized the lessons the Big Red took away from the week’s games.
In the first half, the Big Red took control because of its defense. A steal and layup by Galal Cancer gave the Big Red its first lead, 14-13. Defense appeared to be contagious as 6-foot-8 223-pound senior center Eitan Chemerinski reached one of his big paws into the passing lane and intercepted a pass. Shonn Miller and Errick Peck both had blocked shots.
The problem was the Big Red inability to sustain that level of defense as Terriers guard D.J. Irving caused the Big Red fits. He scored five points, handed out two assists, and his pass out of a trap led to a foul and a pair of free throws for Justin Alston during the game-changing run.
Terriers 6-foot-7 forward Malik Thomas scored six points during the stretch, making the Big Red pay for slow or half-hearted defensive rotations and close-outs with a pair of 3-pointers. The Terriers shot 50 percent (21 of 42) from the floor.
“We’re not nearly where we need to be, defensively,” Cornell coach Bill Courtney said. “This is the third consecutive game where we’ve given up 50 percent or more from the field. That’s something that we’re supposed to pride ourselves on. We just haven’t got there yet. I’m not saying we won’t get there, but we’ve got to keep working on it.”
The Big Red also committed a pair of turnovers to help propel the Terriers on their run. Courtney’s squad turned it over 20 times, which led to 24 points for the opposition. Against Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Big Red committed 26 turnovers. Earlier this season, they had 23 turnovers against Arizona State.
“We’re just really not valuing the basketball like we should be, and that’s really hurt us,” Courtney said. “We started the game that way and then we started the second half that way. When you don’t get field goal attempts or chances to get it up to the basket, you’re going to struggle.”
Prior to this week, the Big Red had won three out of its four previous games. The Big Red will not play again until Dec. 28, when they will play at St. Francis (Pa.) followed by a game two days later at Binghamton University.

Malik Thomas’ identity as a basketball player may not be that of a pure 3-point shooter just yet, but there was always a feeling he could hit the deep shot.
And yesterday, when Boston University needed it, the sophomore forward from Harlem proved it.
Thomas went 5-for-5 from behind the arc — all in the second half — and matched a career high with 17 points to go along with five rebounds, spurring the Terriers to a 70-57 victory against Cornell at Case Gym.
“It was a great feeling,” said Thomas, who came into the game shooting just 3-for-15 on treys for the season. “My shot finally fell. I hadn’t been shooting well on the season and it was a good feeling. My teammates were trying to pick me, telling me to keep shooting and I was able to help my teammates and get some big rebounds as well. But it was beyond the shots, although the shots went in. It was about us getting stops in a row, getting big rebounds and making the right passes, the extra passes. I think that was more important than the shots.”
BU coach Joe Jones said Thomas had played several consecutive all-around games and, yesterday, it came together with the shots falling.
“He’s a very confident kid and, to his credit, he’s worked hard on his shot. He put a lot of time in, he believes in himself,” Jones said. “My thing has always been with him is I think he has a chance to be a terrific all-around player. I’ve wanted him to know that and for him to look to do different things with his game.”
Guard D.J. Irving led all scorers with 23 points to lift the Terriers (5-6) to their fifth win in six games, the first time the team has won 5-of-6 nonconference games since 2004-05.
Irving kept BU in the game in the first half when Cornell was threatening to break it open. The Big Red (4-8) led by as many as eight points in the first half but, thanks in large part to Irving, they could never shake the hosts.
Cornell, which took a five-point lead into halftime, contributed to its own demise. The Big Red dominated in the paint throughout the game, outscoring the Terriers 34-18 in close and beating BU in second-chance points 13-3. But 19 turnovers, 10 in the second half, did in Cornell.
“That’s our biggest bugaboo,” Big Red coach Bill Courtney said. “We’re just not really valuing the basketball like we should be, and it’s really hurt us.”
A 13-0 run in the second half gave the Terriers an 11-point lead with 4:33 remaining that essentially served as the knockout punch.


As Boston University heads into its holiday break, the Terriers hope they’ve left behind for good their disastrous start to the season.
D.J. Irving scored 23 points and sophomore forward Malik Thomas came off the bench to score all 17 of his points in the second half to the lead the surging Terriers past Cornell, 70-57, Saturday at Case Gym.
Thomas made all five of his 3-point attempts and also hit a pair of free throws for BU (5-6), which has won five of six games after losing its first five.
Down by 2 points with 8:38 to play, Irving scored three baskets in a row to kick off a 13-0 run and put the Terriers ahead to stay.
Devin Cherry led Cornell (4-9) with 16 points, while Errick Peck and Dwight Tarwater added 12 apiece. Tarwater’s tip-in midway through the first half gave Cornell its biggest lead, 30-22, and his third and final 3-pointer with four seconds left sent the Big Red into intermission with a 35-30 advantage.



Playing its second Ivy League team this season, the Boston University men’s basketball team defeated Cornell University 70–57, Saturday afternoon at Case Gymnasium.
Cornell (4–8) entered the game fresh off an 88–47 dismantling courtesy of the Duke University Blue Devils. Cornell has also lost to other powerhouse teams such as Vanderbilt University, Arizona State University and the University of Wisconsin.
In their only other matchup against an America East opponent this season, the Big Red lost to Stony Brook University by a score of 76–53
Even with the teams having similarly below-average records, BU (5-6) expected a physical game from Cornell.
“[The Big Red] had most of their team back from last year and they thoroughly outplayed us last time, even though we only lost by six,” said BU coach Joe Jones. “We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in.”
The teams were evenly matched in the first 10 minutes of the game, with neither squad controlling the tempo or building a significant lead. After two 3-pointers from Cornell guard Dwight Tarwater midway through the first half, the Big Red took the lead over the Terriers, 20–14. Cornell led the rest of the half and went into the locker room with a 35–30 advantage.
“We gave them some second-chance points in the first half,” Jones said.  “They had four offensive rebounds that led to straight put backs. That really hurt us.”
Junior guard DJ Irving kept the Terriers in the game with 12 points, even as BU was being out rebounded on the glass in the first half.
At the start of the second half, redshirt sophomore forward Malik Thomas found his shot. With zero points in the first half, Thomas shot a perfect 5-for-5 from behind the 3-point line and totaled 17 points.
“[Cornell] left [Thomas] open a lot when they tried keeping DJ out of the lane,” Jones said. “When we rolled [junior forward] Dom [Morris] to the basket, the defenders were helping off Malik, leaving him open because he wasn’t shooting well coming in. Once he hit one, he started feeling it a little bit and he got it going.”
Thomas hit two clutch 3-pointers to tie the game at 37 points apiece 5:06 into the second half. The score remained close for the next few minutes, with the teams exchanging baskets.
Then, Irving and Thomas took over for the Terriers.
Irving got the run started with six quick points, and then Thomas nailed two 3-pointers for six points of his own. After being out-rebounded in the first half, the Terriers began pulling down boards and giving themselves second chances on the offensive side.
A dunk from Morris at the 17:00 mark of the second half put the Terriers up by eleven and put the Big Red in a deep hole.
The Terriers built on their lead late in the game when Thomas hit his last 3-pointer of the night. After hitting their foul shots late in the game, the Terriers defeated the Big Red, 70–57.
The second-half defense for the Terriers was exceptionally strong. BU held Cornell to 22 points in the second half while forcing 10 Big Red turnovers, six of which came from forward Errick Peck.
Cornell shot just 37 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from 3-point land. The BU defense also played smart, tight defense, committing only one foul in the second half.
“[The Big Red] were bigger in size and they tried to post us up a ton, so in the second half we really packed it in and forced a lot of turnovers when they tried passing out of the double team,” Jones said.
On the other hand, the Terriers’ offense, led by Irving and Thomas, was able to shoot 52.4 percent from the field while also hitting 13-of-14 free throws in the second half.
Following the holiday, BU will travel to Orlando, Fla., for the Men’s Basketball at University of Central Florida Holiday Tournament. The Terriers are slated to play Belmont University on Friday.

20 comments:

Unknown said...

Reading Courtney quotes makes my skin itch.

You're not "valuing the basketball?" Perhaps if you run the "valuing the basketball" drill more in practice, instead of the "chicken with head cut-off" drill, things would improve.

Lead the team. Coach with calm. Substitute sanely. Run an offense that an Ivy team can execute. Teach a defense that doesn't lead to 50% opp. field goal percentage. That's your job. I'm sure the kids value the ball plenty.

Anonymous said...

As the Ivy season approaches Coach C got to decide which players give him the most productivity and play them accordingly. Equal minutes is a nice gesture to those who receive the time , but to have a winning program u have to keep your better players no the floor for extended mins to maximize there production. Without question Miller is the most productive all around player on the team and arguements can be made for many others to receive extended mins. This is my arguement for why D. Cherry should b on the floor right along with him. Leading scorer on team in points per min, ability to.create his on shot when defenses pack it in to prevent the bigs from receiving the ball down low, capable three point shooter also more than capable ability to assist others, last but not least the ability to take it the length of the floor coast to coast ..... Very exciting

Anonymous said...

It's difficult to win games when the team is shooting 39% overall and 29% from three point range. The guards are especially struggling with overall FG percentages:

Cherry 39%
Cressler 33%
Gray 29%
Cancer 36%
Asafo-Adjei 37%
Scelfo 27%
Peck 38%

The team overall needs to be shooting at least 42% or better to be successful. The name of the game is still putting the ball in the hoop. Hopefully the shooting percentages will improve..

The good news is that there is still time to get it figured out and turn things around. There is no upside to being negative.

Anonymous said...

These last two games have featured two stats that are mind-boggling. They really do show Cornell's fall into cupcakeland.

Duke's 47-4 run against Cornell was the most lopsided run during a game between two D-1 opponents since inclusion of the shot clock. There have been more lopsided run between D-1 and D-3 teams playing against each other (but only two). Ouch.

Cornell starters combined for only nine points against Boston University. Yes, nine. This is the lowest point total for starters since the shot clock instituted. Granted, the bench had a lot of points, but something doesn't seem right here.

So with Courtney now in his third year, with his own players and applying his own game plan, should we expect him to be unsure of his rotation late into the season, YET AGAIN? I was drinking the kool-aid for a while, but not anymore.

BigRed1965 said...

Coach is not wrong to distribute playing time more liberally at this stage of the season. He is still appraising who will best carry the ball into the Ivy League segment of the season. Anyone impatient with the Coach should remember that in Steve Donahue's first 3 seasons, the team had awful losing seasons. Seven years later he gave Cornell its best basketball season ever. I do agree Cherry should be out there more, and I am sold on Asafo-Adjei as a reliable point guard. Cressler will still emerge this season as a scorer, I predict.

Anonymous said...

BigRed1965, I'm not specifically advocating that we all lose our patience with Coach Courtney at this point in time, but I do think drawing a parallel with Coach Donahue's early career is misleading.

Donahue did in fact lead us to our best season ever in 2010 but he was very lucky in three important respects: (1) the serendipitous falling into his lap of Jeff Foote and Foote's subsequent remarkable development beyond his prior perceived potential; (2) Louis Dale finding and choosing Cornell rather than the other way around and HIS subsequent development; and (3) in the entire formal history of the Ivy League, Donahue caught the one brief window in which both Princeton and Penn were weak.

Now, that's the kind of good luck which benefits all winning coaches so I'm not trying to discredit Donahue's achievements in 2008, 2009 and 2010. And of course he had the skill to take advantage of the luck which came his way.

But it's simply wrong to imply that, during his early losing seasons, Donahue was somehow working on a long-term grand plan which simply required that we fans stay patient. Donahue got lucky -- pure and simple. Indeed, his current experience at BC is only serving to underscore how much good luck he needed to win. And unless you are counting on Courtney being similarly lucky, it's not a reasonable argument to suggest that Courtney is successfully tracking toward an Ivy championship down the road.

The team looks lost and disorganized. Does that mean we should panic and/or right now abandon what Courtney is trying to build? No. But you've got to stop implying that he's building the foundation for something great. Currently, we're simply lost and disorganized. That's it.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

The fall of the Ps had nothing to do with Cornell's rise.

If Penn or Princeton were good, they would have been just small speed bumps that Cornell would have crossed over to the finish line.

Ask Alabama, St. John's, UMass, LaSalle, St. Joe's, Kansas, Temple and Wisconsin if they thought that Cornell would have finished in 2nd in the Ivy BUT FOR the fall of the Penn/Princeton.

That Cornell team would crush any P team from last 30 years.

Can tell you that Donahue speaks very politically correct in public about his 2010 Cornell team (as does Nat Graham who played at Penn during a dominant time).

In private, they think '10 Cornell team would have crushed those Penn teams-- including Maloney and Allen.

Cornell was 10 deep with size and weapons at every position. We had a dominant 7 footer, a lethal wing gunner in Wittman, multiple point guards (Dale/Ski) and a lot of dangerous role players who could step up and give big games (Jaques, Reeves, Tyler, Coury, Peck).

Anonymous said...

Yes, so why is Peck not getting more minutes?? And where are the screens that get 3 point shooters (Cressler, Gray, Miles, Devin, etc.) straight-up shots? Duke had a very good defense, but we did not screen, or make the moves around the one person screen to get open. 2010 had two person screens (amoung others).

Anonymous said...

A lesson from Duke - play inspired defense full time and good things happen. Details, details.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:40 AM here again.

I agree with you that, with the team which took the floor in 2010, Cornell would have beaten even a typical Ivy champion P team. But part of what made the 2010 team great is the experience the squad gained in 2008 and 2009. I believe that, while it's an old cliche, it's true that programs need to learn how to win. Cornell learned in 2008 and 2009 how to close out close games, how to play in the NCAA tournament without being intimidated by the spectacle, how to EXPECT victory. That was critical to having everything come together for the magical 2010 season.

Donahue was exceptionally lucky that both of the P's were weak in 2008 and 2009, allowing the Cornell team to lay the foundation for 2010. Imagine a typical P-P rivalry in those two earlier years; maybe we win one of the two seasons, maybe we tie for the title but lose in a playoff.

Finally, as has been discussed on this board before, 2010 Cornell would not "crush any P team from the last 30 years." We shot way over our season averages, including from 3-point distance, to beat Temple and Wisconsin. Good for us -- that's clutch play that all champions need. But that doesn't make us good enough to "crush," among others, 1998 Princeton, who by the way shot way under their season average in losing a very winnable game against Mateen Cleaves and his Michigan State team. That's the nature of any single elimination tournament.

Let's celebrate every wonderful aspect of the 2010 season but let's also never forget just how lucky we were back then. That includes not deluding ourselves that 2010 was some inevitable planned result from Donahue's early losing seasons. We lucked out in 2008 and 2009; Courtney may need some of the same good fortune to break us out of our current funk.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

This is not even a debate.

Let's look at the resume's actual accomplishments, not some formula.

First, go look back at the 1998 Princeton schedule and who they beat. They had no high quality wins. Their best two wins were in New Jersey over a pair of NIT teams. No a single win over any of the 64 teams in the NCAA Tournament. Pathetic. Not a single win over an NIT team on the road. Pathetic.

Princeton's best wins in 1998 were over big name BCS schools that stunk.

Texas (in NJ) (no postseason)
NC State (in NJ) (no postseason)
Rutgers (no postseason)
UNC Wilimington (in NJ) (NIT team)
Wake Forest (in NJ) (NIT team)

Now let's compare to Cornell 2010:

Temple (neutral court) (Top 25, NCAA Tourn)
Wisconsin (neutral court) (Top 25, NCAA Tourn)
Vermont (neutral) (NCAA Tourn team)
AT St. John's (NIT team)
AT Alabama
Boston U. (College Basketball Invit team)
AT UMass (no postseason)
AT LaSalle (no postseason)
AT St. Joseph's (no postseason)

Princeton would have had multiple losses with Cornell's schedule.

Cornell's 5 losses came to 3 FINAL top 10 teams (Cuse, Kansas, Kentucky), Seton Hall (an NIT team in season opener) and the bad loss to Penn.

Princeton just did not beat anyone of value and did not beat anyone on the road. Princeton also played in a softer Ivy League.

Michael James said...

Here's what I'm always confused by in this argument... If Cornell 2010 was clearly better than Princeton 1998, and you want to use the resume, not the "formulas," to prove this, then why did the Big Red get a 12 seed and Princeton get a 5 seed?

That's a pretty large difference to not only overcome but also push Cornell ahead.

Granted, the formulas prove this more clearly and objectively, but even in the subjective world of resumes, the tournament committees in 1998 and 2010 put a bunch of space between these two teams.

Anonymous said...

The fact that people think we got "lucky" in 2008-2010 makes me sick, but also makes me understand why people are now so willing to accept cupcake status.

But it mostly makes me sick. Even before Ryan Wittman & Louis Dale arrived, the woman who wrote that book about Ivy League basketball predicted that Cornell would win the championship. Of course Penn fans at Basketball-U laughed. She followed the Ivy League before Wittman & Lou showed up, but she was looking at guys like Adam Gore (eventual ROY) and seeing potential future champs. This was a stage when Cornell wasn't doing that great non-conf, but had become legit within the league; a few years prior, they had been jokes.

The next year, with NO Foote yet, so no "perfect storm" magical big 3 yet, Gore, Dale, & Wittman started the year by defeating a decent, borderline top 100 team Northwestern. Unfortunately, Gore then got injured and the young team suffered a bunch of bad losses, but you could see something was up, and of course then they produced ROY #3 in the last 5 or 6 years.

The point is, before Foote, before even Wittman, people could see Cornell was up to something. First, they were suddenly legit winning Ivy games. Then they were legit beating decent non-Ivy competition.

Then Dana O'Neil at ESPN wrote, after Cornell won their first championship, about the "are they good or is it just the absence of the P's" issue. She analyzed their non-conference performance and concluded that their vast improvement outside the conferenced proved that they didn't simply win because of a vacuum. They had taken Duke down the wire and had suffered no major blowout losses to BCS schools.

So people in the media who kept one eye on the league could see that Cornell was looking unusually special, not just "the Ps are absent" special... yet Cornellians themselves think it was a fluke.

It wasn't winning against weakened P's that shaped Cornell. It was games against teams like Duke that began giving them ideas. If dominating the Ivy leads to doing better outside the league, then the P's should've been winning multiple BCS games a year and getting tournament wins at a better rate than once a dozen years or so, but they weren't.

Anonymous said...

As of late December, the three highest rated teams (Harvard, Princeton and Columbia) are ranked higher by Ken Pomeroy than the 2008 Ivy champion Cornell team, speaking to the weakness of the P's and the conference overall in 2008.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Great argumentative point by M.James above on the PU seed in '98. But this argument is easily refuted.

Princeton had just one (1) defeat headed into the NCAA Tournament in 1998 (to a ranked UNC team).

There was no way that the Committee was going to grant Princeton anything worse than a 5, 6 or maybe a 7 seed. Could you imagine the committee giving them a 12 seed with just 1 loss to UNC? There would be riots among mid majors.

The fact that Princeton, a 1 loss team, only received a 5 seed (despite a No. 8 national AP ranking headed into the Tournament) shows just how much the Committee DID NOT RESPECT Princeton's resume that season. Princeton was penalized for having little to show for its record and soft schedule.

Computer formulas can spit out whatever they want on these two teams. But the facts are that Princeton had virtually no quality wins to boast their argument that they were the best of the last 30 years. Two wins over NIT teams (UNCW and Wake) in New Jersey (one in Jadwin, other in Meadowlands) is just not enough to make the claim that Princeton '98 was best ever.

Cornell's 2010 resume included:

-Two (2) Top 25 wins on neutral court in Florida (Wisconsin/Temple).
-Road win at NIT team St. John's

(ALL THREE OF THESE WINS WERE DOMINANT BY CORNELL)

-Neutral court win vs. NCAA team Vermont
-Home win vs postseason team Boston U.
-True road wins at Alabama, UMass, La Salle
-Home win over St. Joseph's

An argument could be made that Princeton just played its schedule and won its games.

Great, good for Princeton. They won a cupcake, heavily New Jersey-based schedule. But they provide no real tangible evidence that they were a special team.

Cornell challenged itself-- went to #1 Kansas (nearly won), went to Top 10 Syracuse. And won the above games.

The only knock on Cornell is a home loss to NIT team Seton Hall and bad loss at Penn.

Cornell has the wins, the tangible results evidencing that it was a truly great, truly special team.

Princeton was a very, very good team, but did not prove it was a special team.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that I would ever put forward the assertion that the NCAA men's basketball committee seeded a certain team on a certain line because the committee was afraid of "riots among mid majors" or anybody else.

There are way too many examples of teams being seeded too high or too low relative to public opinion or Las Vegas lines. The committee seems to seed teams where they want to, public outcry be damned.

There have been comments from time to time over the years in which basketball committee members imply that, if they do a good job, every higher seeded team will win every game until the top 32 teams make the first weekend and the top 16 make the Sweet Sixteen, etc. These guys know that they are under tremendous scrutiny from the public, the media and Vegas bookmakers. They want to get the seedings right.

To say that the committee was essentially afraid to seed Princeton too low is without foundation. That's not how the committee works.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Right, the Committee is not human. It is a computer with no alternative motives or agendas.

It is just a strange set of coincidences that Cornell played Stanford (smart school super bowl), Temple (Dunphy vs. Donahue), Harvard vs. Vandy (smart school super bowl), Kentucky vs. Princeton (Ivy 2010 rematch with Kentucky).

The committee never manipulates seeding. Never.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm sure that the men's basketball committee is thinking the following:

"You know, the way that we can sell more tickets and jack up our television ratings and negotiate ever more lucrative contracts is to make sure that Cornell plays Temple in the first round. The tens of millions of Americans who closely follow Ivy League athletics and know the history between these two coaches will find it compelling sports drama." Ha ha ha, that's a rich one.

If a team is seeded 12, there are only four teams seeded 5 which it can play in the first round. There will be some kind of back story to some of those potential match-ups. You're seeing patterns where the rest of us see random noise.

By the way, the American sports public, the people who actually buy tickets and drive television ratings have only the vaguest idea of which college teams come from universities which are "better" than others. Those of us who live in the Ivy tower obsessing over US News rankings and admissions department admit rates are the flea at the end of the tail which does *not* wag the dog of the colossus which college sports has become. To think that anybody really cares about matching "smart schools" in the tournament is the ultimate in self-serving hubris. We should be so lucky to have people care about us like that.

By the way, there have been a number of surveys in which people are asked which universities are in the Ivy League. About half the respondents can name Harvard and about a quarter can name Princeton and/or Yale. That's it. That's the sporting public which we're talking about here. Joe Six Pack does not read the US News rankings, apparently.

Anonymous said...

This whole disagreement on whether a school is a greater team than another just seems to be stuck on apples and oranges methods of evaluation.

Seeding and statistics will lump together all a team's games to make its valuation, including bad losses, which will pull a team's valuation down.

A human being, however, will see more nuances. For example, the human being might see a particular bad loss as a fluke on a night when the team was playing complacently and the other team had an unusually good shooting day *cough* Penn loss in 2010 *cough*. He might therefore believe it has no bearing on the team's ability to play good competition, and that the team is still more capable of beating good competition than another team, hence the team is greater.

Anonymous said...

I think Anonymous 12/25 5:14 PM objects to my use of the word "lucky" because the term to him suggests that the 2008-10 titles were somehow undeserved or we were not worthy. That was not my meaning at all. Good fortune is a factor in most championships. Players stay healthy. Opponents get injured. Important components of a title team result from seemingly random or serendipitous events.

I don't know who you mean by "the lady who wrote that book about Ivy League basketball" but I readily agree that players such as Adam Gore positioned Cornell to make a run. They were necessary but not sufficient for our championships. At the same time, you cannot reasonably assert that Jeff Foote and Lou Dale arriving were not indispensible components to our championships or that Steve Donahue was not lucky, just plain lucky, they arrived in Ithaca.

Furthermore, the League was weak in 2008 and 2009. That's a fact. My opinion is that our championships in those years were a contributing factor to the greatness achieved in 2010 because we learned how to win and we learned to expect victory, which is a prerequisite for most overachieving teams.

That doesn't make our three rings undeserved or unworthy; it merely means like many champions, we were lucky.