Tuesday, December 10, 2013

News and Notes: Tuesday Edition

They say "a picture can speak a thousand words."  Below, news and notes for Tuesday...

  • Cornell assistant coach, Jon Jaques (Cornell '10) posted the below photo from the past weekend's Alumni Game.
      POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - There are officially 351 Division I men’s basketball teams in America this season. Heading into last weekend’s action, exactly four had yet to pick up a win: Grambling (who didn’t win a game last year, either), Tennessee State, Cornell, and Marist.  If that seems low, then you haven’t been paying attention to the lengths that most teams will go to to assure themselves that they will get at least one early-season win. Division II, Division III, NAIA, even the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) appear on most mid-major schedules, a necessary evil, just as many of the guarantee games we see the BCS teams play against many of the teams we deal with.  For instance, Savannah State, currently 351st and dead last in the RPI, recorded its lone win against Florida National last month, a tiny, mostly Hispanic commuter school near Miami that just decided to form an athletic program (with the interesting nickname of the Conquistadors) and start with men’s basketball this season. Their recruiting? Signs on campus telling people where to try out.  We can disqualify Grambling for now, because frankly, it’s a mess down there in their athletic program, although after a painful winless season last year, the Tigers have scheduled a couple of lower division teams later this month and will likely beat at least one of them.  Which leaves us with Cornell, Tennessee State, and Marist. How did they get here? Well, Cornell thought they would be good. The Big Red made some strides in Bill Courtney’s third season, but lost All-Ivy forward Shonn Miller to a season-ending injury before they even began. Still, losses to Binghamton, Radford, and St. Francis University (the PA one) have been tough to swallow (they actually led now fourth-ranked Syracuse for much of the game in their opener). If they haven’t won by Jan. 11, they host Division III Oberlin.
      • The Daily Pennsylvanian writes, "Tony Hicks scores 40 points against Cornell. Yeah, Tony Hicks is coming off of a few bad nights. But this man tore Cornell up last season, putting up 29 points away from home, because what else are you going to do in Ithaca, N.Y. besides rip apart the Big Red? And this season, Cornell is bad. How bad? The Big Red are 0-10 on the season and have lost every game by an average of 17.7 points. If Penn has any shot in hell at bouncing back from a disappointing start and saving face in the Ivy League, its first contest against Cornell at home on Feb. 7 is a must-win. And Hicks, who has an eye for the big game, will rise to the occasion."
      • Bleacher Report discusses Syracuse's improvement and writes, "In their opening game, the Orange played Cornell and trailed by 14 points before cutting the deficit to 38-32 at the half. Syracuse pulled away for an 82-60 win thanks to a 27-point effort by [Trevor] Cooney. However, coach Jim Boeheim knew his team had some work ahead."  On the A.P. Pool, Bleacher Report writes, "The Orange apparently got all of their doubts out of the way early in the year by struggling with Cornell and St. Francis (NY) during that pre-Thanksgiving portion of the season that's already getting a little fuzzy in our memories.  Since then, they've merely breezed through the Maui Invitational and completely demoralized both Indiana and Binghamton in the past week. Coupled with losses by many of the teams around them, it was more than enough to jump to No. 2 in this week's AP Poll."
      • Cornell RPI Watch: The RPI (Rating Percentage Index) is a measure of strength of schedule and how a team does against that schedule. It does not consider the margin of victory, but only whether or        not a team won and where the game was played (home/away/neutral court). The formula is 25% team     winning percentage (WP), 50% opponents' average winning percentage (OWP), and 25% opponents' opponents' average winning percentage (OOWP). (See: CollegeRPI.com for a further explanation of the formula.) The RPI may be the most influential factor in NCAA Tournament seeding. Cornell's RPI rank as of December 10, 2013 is No. 332 out of 344 total Division I teams. While neither the Ken Pomeroy or the Sagarin Rankings (USA Today) are used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, the KenPom.com site ranks Cornell No. 339 in the nation, while the Sagarin Rankings (USA Today) have Cornell at No. 344. Both sites are predominantly used by fans and the media.
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