Friday, May 10, 2013

News and Notes: Friday Edition

Above, A Date in Cornell Basketball History, the 2003-2004 Cornell Basketball Media Guide.  Below, news and notes for Friday...

  • Jeff Foote (Cornell '10) and his Zalgiris club are in the final home stretch of their season.  After winning the Lithuanian LKL premier league title and bowing out in the Top 16 round of the EuroLeague, Zalgiris has one last league championship to aim for in the Eastern European VTB league.  Currently ranked #3 in Europe, Zalgiris opens the quarterfinals of the VTB playoffs against Novgorod on May 15.  However, Foote is unlikely to play in the VTB playoffs due to back pains.  Foote could potentially find himself in the D-League again next season for last push at the NBA or could sign a bigger contract with another top club in Europe.
  • The Indianapolis Star notes, "Cornell senior Errick Peck, a 2009 Cathedral graduate will visit Xavier on Saturday. Peck, who will be eligible next season as a one-year transfer, also has visited Purdue."
  • Below is an updated list of players committed to Ivy League schools in the class of 2013 (unless otherwise noted):
Steven Spieth.(Jesuit HS) Dallas, TX, 6-6, F, Brown
Aram Martin (Miller School) Charlottesville, VA, 6-9, F, Brown
Lealand King (Brentwood School) Los Angeles, CA, 6-6, F, Brown
J.R. Hobbie (Manasquan HS) Manasquan, NJ, 6-4, G, Brown
Tavon Blackmon (Gonzaga) Washington, DC, 5-11, G, Brown
Matt Madigan (Mt. Tabor HS) Winston-Salem, NC, 6-4, G, Brown
Chris McComber (John McCrae School) Ottawa, ON, 6-7, F, Columbia
Kendall Jackson (Suffield Academy) Suffield, MA, 5-9, G, Columbia
Jeff Coby (Choate Rosemary Hall) Choate, CT, 6-6, F, Columbia
Luke Petrasek (Northport HS) Northport, NY, 6-10, C, Columbia
Ikemefuna Ngwudo (Milton Academy) Milton, MA, 6-5, F, Dartmouth 
Eli Harrison (Sisters HS) Sisters, OR, 6-6, F, Dartmouth 
Mike Flemming (N'field Mt Hermon, MA) Lincolnshire, IL, 6-1, G, Dartmouth 
Matt Fraschila (Highland Park HS) Highland Park, TX, 5-10 G, Harvard 
Hunter Meyers (Douglas HS) Minden, NV, 6-6, F, Harvard 
Zena Edosomwan (Northfield Mt Hermon, MA) Hollywood, CA, 6-9, F, Harvard 
Matt Howard (A.J. Flora HS), Columbia, S.C., 6-4, G, Penn 
Dylan Jones (Village HS) Houston, TX, 6-8, F, Penn 
Dave Winfield (Harvard Westlake HS) Hollywood, CA, 6-8, F, Penn 
Tony Bagtas (Westlake HS) Atlanta, GA, 5-11, G, Penn
Preston Troutt (Trinity Christian) Dallas, TX 6-0, G, Penn
Khyan Rayner (Jesuit HS) Portland, OR, 5-9, G, Princeton
Henry Caruso (Serra HS) San Mateo, CA, 6-4, G, Princeton 
Hashim Moore (Hun School, NJ) Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 6-5, F, Princeton 
Spencer Weisz (Seton Hall Prep) Florham Park, NJ, 6-4, G, Princeton 
Steven Cook (New Trier HS) Winnetka, IL, 6-5, G, Princeton
Pete Miller (Northfield Mount Hermon, MA) Northfield, MA, 6-10, C, Princeton 
Amir Bell (East Brunswick HS) E.Brunswick, NJ, 6-4, G, Princeton (2014) 
Sam Downy (Lake Forest HS) Lake Forest, IL, 6-9, C, Yale
AJ Edwards (South Kent School) Kent, CT, 6-5, F, Yale
Anthony Dallier (Northfield Mount Hermon, MA) Wexford, PA, 6-6, F, Yale 
JT Flowers (Lincoln HS) Portland, OR, 6-5, F, Yale
Maki Mason (Hotchkiss School), Lakeville, CT, 5-11, G, Yale (2014)


Unknown said...

I was just noticing that Zena E - the guy who is supposedly dragging down Harvard's API - is a graduate of Harvard-Westlake (the number 1 academic private school in all of Los Angeles - puts about a dozen kids into Stanford every year) and soon a post-graduate of Northfield Mount Hermon, one of the top 10 or so academic prep schools in the U.S. (near 100% matriculation rate - couple dozen to Ivy League schools every year). How is it that he is unqualified as an athlete to attend Harvard?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Not a great argument. Here is why...

Zena may have attended an excellent academic high school (and basketball factory) at Harvard-Westlake, but his GPA and SAT scores were in fact well below the Ivy League's minimum floor.

This is not subject to debate. This is fact.

He attended Northfield Mt. Hermon School as a postgrad for 1 reason and 1 reason only, to boost his GPA and get himself above the Ivy floor.

It is not even clear what classes he took at NMH. But the postgrad year conveniently took care of the admissions issue and his GPA was boosted.

He is now above the Ivy minimum floor and was accepted to Harvard.

But while Harvard is admitting students at the Ivy League AI floor such as Zena, Yale and Princeton recruit at a much higher AI level because these two schools refuse to lower their admissions standards, especially Yale.

In other words, Harvard has GREATLY reduced its academic standards in order to compete in sports (mainly football and m/w basketball) with the likes of Cornell and Penn.

At the end of the day, each of the Ivy League schools are supposed to recruit athletic teams that are representative of their general student bodies. When Harvard takes a kid barely above the AI floor, Harvard is breaching the fundamental core values of the Ivy League Agreement. He is not representative of the Harvard student body. His SAT and GPA falls well, well below Harvard's student body.

Harvard enforces Ivy rules when it is convenient for Harvard.

Harvard violates Ivy rules when it is convenient for Harvard.

Anonymous said...

You say they are violating Ivy rules, but technically they aren't violating any rules, right? I understand your argument, and agree with it, am just curious...

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Fact. Harvard did violate Ivy league and NCAA rules in 2008 and was sanctioned by the NCAA in 2010.

With respect to Harvard's current practices, I am saying they are NOT violating rules. But they are circumventing the rules and breaching the spirit of the 1954 Ivy League Agreement and the 1976 Ivy League Principles.

Harvard is able to recruit low Academic Index kids like Zena by adding "AI booster" kids to the program like Camden McRae, who was a junior varsity high school basketball player with a high SAT score from Zena's high school. By averaging Zena's and Camden's respective GPAs and SATS, Harvard Athletics is able to convince Harvard Administration that the TEAM as a WHOLE is representative of the general student body when each player is supposed to be representative. Harvard is the only Ivy League men's basketball team to use academic boosters and the practice of "averaging" to such outrageous extremes and it is the sole reason why Harvard has lost nearly two dozen players off its roster for non-graduation/non-health reasons since 2009. Essentially, Harvard recruits very smart kids that the coaches have no intention of keeping in the program or ever giving playing time. They then run them out of the program once they've served their purpose of admissions averaging.

Harvard already has a kid in its incoming recruiting class that is being used merely for his academic profile. This student-athlete had ZERO Division I offers except for Harvard. But his SAT and GPA serve the program a purpose.

Anonymous said...

Harvard-Westlake and Northfield Mount Hermon are indeed outstanding prep schools but they, like many others around the country, lower their own academic requirements for recruited athletes. Why? For the exact same reason that colleges do, because they enjoy having winning teams.

I'm not passing judgment on Zena E's academic profile but, judging solely by the fact he needed a post-grad year after high school, one would surmise that he and any athlete admitted into an Ivy under such circumstances needed help to clear the minimum AI. That's just common sense.

It doesn't hurt that he'll enter college a year older than his contemporaries, with another year of muscle mass and basketball experience to boot. That's not a strategy exclusive to Harvard, by the way. Rob Pannell is a 24-year-old man competing against, in some cases, 18-year-old boys still looking forward to shaving some day.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Some athletes do postgrad seasons to raise their stock athletically, to get stronger, but are already academically qualified--- see Pete McMillan as an example as well as numerous others in the League.

Zena is a very rare case of an Ivy guy that did not need a postgrad year for basketball purposes. He needed it academically to play in the Ivy.

He's not a bad student. At Cal or UCLA, he'd could be arguably the best student on the team. But he's not Ivy League and certainly not Harvard material. Stanford did not offer him because he was not qualified for them either.

But Harvard wants to win. So, they admitted him. And Harvard wants to win so badly that they committed recruiting violations in 2008, alienated 19 kids since 2009, and now have multiple kids returning to school from an academic scandal.

Are these all coincidences?
Name one other Ivy with so many problems. There are none. This is the culture Robert Scalise and Tommy Amaker built at Harvard. And this is the culture has no place in the Ivy League.

But back to Zena. He's a good student. And I hear he is a great kid. But this is not about his character.

He had an SAT and GPA that placed him below the Ivy League's minimum AI bar.

A year at Northfield Mount Hermon with some easy cruiser classes and some easy "A" grades is all he needed to boost his A.I. score above the Ivy minimum.

Thankfully, Harvard has Matt Fraschila coming on board with his stellar academic profile and Division III/University Athletic Association level of play to help with admissions. Matt will do his part to boost the recruiting class academic average. He'll then spend the next 4 years either cut from the program or sitting on the end of the bench as a spectator watching as the 17th man, with no chance of ever playing.

These are the facts and it is nothing new in the last 5 years since Tommy Amaker arrived.

He failed at Seton Hall and Michigan.

Understand folks, Tommy's last and final chance to succeed was Harvard. If he failed, he was done.

This is what he needed to do to build a winner and save his career.

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about these events.

q'nis said...

I am generally a big red homer, but I don't really see much wrong with this. I think it's a pretty weak argument. These kids who get "alienated" probably see the writing on the wall, and get Harvard degrees. Maybe this is a bit unethical, but way worse things have gone down in college sports.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...


You have to remember, this is not the Northeast Conference. This is not the Big 10. This is not the Sun Belt. This is THE IVY LEAGUE. We are supposed to be better than Tommy Amaker's method. That's the fundamental problem here. Academic are supposed to trump sports. Otherwise, we are just 8 good academic schools which treat sports over academics like any other school in America, like Texas, Cal, UVa, etc.

We are supposed to recruit with ethics and to treat our kids the right way. Amaker has already cheated. We already know his character in college sports.

He may be a great friend, a great father, a great husband. But as a coach, the guy has cheated and his record in how he manages a program speaks for itself. By Ivy standards, his program's off the court conduct is a train wreck.

Anonymous said...

My problem with Harvard's behavior is simple fairness.

In virtually every other conference in the country, it's anything goes. Find the best athletes that you can and get them on campus. A lot of the recruiting practices are shameful and occasionally an NCAA penalty highlights how aggressive coaches push every rule right up to and in some cases past the breaking point. But at least everyone in those conferences knows the game going in: It's every man for himself.

In the Ivy League, for whatever reason, whether you agree with it or not, we have formally agreed as eight members that we will follow a specific set of principles intended to prioritize academics and ethical admissions policies above pure winning on the field or the court.

If Harvard finds those policies too confining or restrictive for its newly raised athletic ambitions, it's Harvard's prerogative to say, "The AI system no longer is acceptable for us. We either want to change it or we may rethink our membership in this conference." Okay, that's cool. If Harvard aims to be Duke or Stanford athletically, that's their business.

But Harvard hasn't been above board. They've just gone ahead and pushed every guideline and rule right up to and in some cases past its breaking point. It's the Ivy League version of some SEC or Big XII school pushing the envelope with a different set of rules.

So now Harvard follows one set of rules and the other seven Ivies follow another.

Right now, the problem with the AI in non-football sports is that it's too subject to manipulation. In men's basketball, we need to either tighten it up by introducing football-style banding or loosen it up by dropping AI targets and just going with a minimum AI floor. Either extreme is better than the untenable middle when one school wants to abuse the system.

I would be fully comfortable if Harvard simply said, "See ya later, guys. We're out of this AI system." But instead they're simply playing games with the rules that the other seven Ivies don't. That's bulls__t. If you're going to aim higher athletically, fine -- just be ethical about it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Q'nis. Yes, Harvard is gaming the system with its use of boosters. But it's really an issue for Harvard internally -- if their administration can live with this, then it's really meaningless to whine about the "spirit" of the league, because no one else can force Harvard to do a darn thing.

The bottom line is that all their kids pass the AI floor, and while they have floor kids, so do we. I'm not persuaded by the "representative of the student body" argument when EVERY Ivy uses a comprehensive admissions system not solely reliant on test scores, whether it be for legacies, to increase diversity, or for sports. Apparently, Julian Jacobs barely missed the AI floor, but if, hypothetically, he were barely above the floor and decided to go to Cornell, no one would have complained.

The bottom line is that they are landing kids like Zena, who will be a force in this league. They are getting kids like Vic Law to seriously consider them. As long as they are pulling in this caliber of talent, it will be an uphill (but not impossible) climb to unseat them as Ivy champs.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Listen folks, to have an intelligent conversation on the topic, you need to read the Ivy Agreement and the Principles.

If you have not read it, then you don't understand the breach.

Anonymous said...

2012 Harvard recruit, high school junior varsity player and alleged academic booster Camden McRae was dismissed from the Harvard basketball program before the team began practicing last October. Does a tree falling in the woods make a noise if nobody is there to hear it? Should a basketball player count toward his team's AI score if he is terminated before the first practice of the season?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

It is very impressive that Harvard supporters are able to explain away how 19 players left from their program since 2009.

It is very impressive that Harvard supporters are able to explain away the NCAA recruiting violation in 2008 which was punished in 2010.

It is very impressive that Harvard supporters are able to explain away the academic scandal and claim that it had nothing to do with the program even though both team captains were involved.

Harvard always has an excuse...

Anonymous said...

The problem with the AI system for sports other than football is that there is too much room for manipulation. Harvard or any other team could literally fill their entire 15-player roster with kids who have the exact minimum AI score of 176. They would make up for these low AI scores by recruiting smarter lacrosse, crew and squash players. There are 31 other Ivy sports besides football in which to place high AI recruits. In this fashion, fielding a basketball team composed entirely of 176 AI scores would still be within Ivy rules.

Meanwhile, according to a 2012 New York Times article on the AI, "a vast majority of [Ivy] recruited athletes have index numbers well above 200." Yale and Princeton by their own internal policies rarely recruit any players who score below 200.

So we're left with a system in which one team with a 176 average score could be playing seven opponents whose averages are all above 200. That's bringing a gun to a knife fight.

The problem is not that there is simply a little wiggle room in the rules. The problem is the magnitude of the wiggle room.

Anonymous said...

Everyone gets that Harvard is playing with AI numbers for its basketball team. But no one is answering this simple question: What is the rest of the league going to do about it?