Thursday, May 23, 2013

News and Notes: Thursday Edition

Above, A Date in Cornell Basketball History, Cornell's Media Guides for the '92-'93, '93-'94, '94-'95 and '95-'96 seasons.  Below, news and news for Thursday...

  • As we first reported, Yanni Hufnagel (Cornell '06) has accepted an assistant coaching position at Vanderbilt.  He was an assistant at Harvard and a former team manager at Cornell under Steve Donahue. The Tennessean writes, "Animated and highly energetic, the 2006 Cornell graduate plans to arrive in Nashville to begin his job next week, pending a background check."
  • writes: "Chesapeake’s Darryl Smith signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Cornell University.  Smith, a 6-foot-3 guard, played at Norfolk Collegiate as a freshman and sophomore but transferred to Blue Ridge School, a boarding private school near Charlottesville, for his junior and senior seasons.  This past season he averaged 14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.8 steals for the Barons who were 7-13.  Smith also played on for the football team which won the VISAA Division II state title this past season with a 41-16 win over Nansemond-Suffolk."


Anonymous said...

Yanni is going to a school with the most stringent admissions requirements in its conference. That will be a shock to him. Will be interesting to see if he can maintain his extraordinary recruiting success relative to conference opponents in this more difficult competitive environment.

I'm sure that one of the attractions of Yanni to Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt is that, on an absolute level, he will probably be recruiting a lot of the exact same kids. They'll just go from being barely admissible low AI recruits in the Ivy League to being the equivalent of rocket scientists and heart surgeons in the SEC.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Pretty much on point. Tweeted this sentiment earlier today.

But he really needed a BCS job to later become a head coach. So, this is a necessary step for him. And he clearly feels more comfortable with an academic-oriented school, even though he got his start at Oklahoma, which is far from academically oriented.

Anonymous said...

I had not read your tweets. Sorry for any redundancy. As an aside, I don't think Yanni will ever replace Amaker at Harvard because I don't think Amaker's ever leaving Harvard.

Unless he can take Harvard to the Elite Eight or Final Four, he won't be a candidate to replace K at Duke. As far as other programs are concerned, Amaker is smart enough to know that his success in Boston is built upon Harvard-specific circumstances.

Most likely scenario is that Amaker prowls Lavietes for another two decades, reaching greater success all the while by lowering academic standards bit by bit as the AI formula gets further imprecise over time. (The class rank/GPA portion of the AI is getting fuzzier as grade inflation creeps down from colleges to high schools.)

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Completely disagree.

Amaker will eventually want to make the major money, particularly when he realizes he has hit his ceiling at Harvard. He is no different than anyone else. He wants money and security for his family. He may be very happy at Harvard, but he is not in the perfect situation and he knows it.

Yes he passed up other more lucrative offers, but they weren't exactly traditional basketball powers (Miami, USC, Northwestern). Thus, they did not offer the assets he required for long term success. He's never had the likes of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UNC, Syracuse, Georgetown or any other real basketball school call upon him. (Michigan was looking to rebuild a shattered and destroyed image when they hired him)

As for Duke, Coach K. will be charged with the responsibility of choosing his successor, just as Boheim had the choice. K will choose from a small group of qualified coaches, which will likely include Amaker, Brey, Collins and Dawkins. Of this group, Brey is not a Duke grad and he is not K's closest relationship. Collins will probably be too young, unproven and unsuccessful. That leaves Dawkins and Amaker. Unless Dawkins ramps it up, Amaker is the favorite.

Given K's age (he is 66), I would imagine he would be retiring around his 70th/71st birthday. He understands there is more to like than competition. He won't die on the bench.

Granted he could coach for another decade if he wanted, but one must wonder if he really wants that kind of life at age 75 (not exactly good for one's heart).

My hunch is K retires by 2017 with Amaker and/or Dawkins in the mix. K will stay involved at Duke in some type of consultant relationship. Maybe even do some tv work.

Also believe that by 2017, other Ivies will have "caught up" to Harvard.

Anonymous said...

Some observations:

Amaker turned down a five-year $5.5 million contract from Miami. Most would consider that "major money."

What do you think Amaker makes now? I'm thinking somewhere in the neighborhood of the $600,000 he made at Michigan. That's probably not "major money" by the inflated standards of college coaches, but add his wife's salary to get his equivalent gross comp at Harvard.

I would guess that his wife makes well into six figures at Harvard Medical School. He's got to replace that money if he leaves Allston, so that's a net addition to his income at Harvard. All of which explains why Amaker, unlike most of the rest of us, is not just going to jump at the first raise in salary put in front of him.

Michigan just played for the national championship a month ago. When Amaker took the job, the Wolverines had scandal problems, but were just over decade removed from a previous national championship. That sounds like a "real basketball school." He's been at the BCS level at two previous stops. He knows the downside of the expectations there. At Harvard, his employer has zero expectations of him other than dramatically lower academic standards.

Krzyzewski just re-upped for another four-year old term with USA Basketball. He may be 66 years old but he's still going strong. What the hell else is he going to do besides enjoy the emotional and professional rewards of leading a powerhouse program, play shuffleboard at the retirement home?

My bet is that K stays at Duke until his health forces him to step down, which might be not be within the next decade given his seemingly endless personal energy.

Finally, and most important for our purposes, why do you think that the other Ivies will "catch up" to Harvard? Most Ivy observers think that Amaker is expertly exploiting all of Harvard's natural advantages in financial aid and brand name. Those two benefits aren't going away.

The AI system is becoming a less precise threshold over time as class rank/GPA gradually becomes a less meaningful standard because of grade inflation. Look at how easily Zena E raised his AI score above the Ivy minimum just by spending a year at NMH.

As the AI develops more wiggle room, everybody in the League will have more ability to push the envelope academically. What signs do you see that Harvard is taking its foot off the accelerator of low academic standards? I see none.

Amaker will continue to win at Harvard for as long as Harvard grants him unfettered access to low AI recruits. I predict that will continue at least until there is a new Harvard president, which might be at least another decade given Faust's age.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Major money? See John Calipari, Roy Williams, Coach K, Jim Boheim, Bill Self. They make more in a year than Amaker makes in a decade.

You could be right on Coach K.

Amaker was with Michigan for several years and could not get it done. Other scandal ridden programs came back overnight. See Rick Pitino at Kentucky.

Ivy League has a lot of rumbles going on behind the scenes. The current landscape and trends won't last.