Monday, January 13, 2014

News and Notes: Monday Edition

Below, news and notes for Monday...

  • Above, highlights from Cornell's win over Oberlin on Saturday. 
  • Cornell recruiting commit, Pat Smith scored 10 points on Sunday per The Intelligencer.
  • The Syracuse Post Standard writes, "[tonight] the Orange travels to Boston College. The Eagles are 5-11 for the season and 1-2 in the ACC. Boston College, which is led by former Cornell coach Steve Donahue, defeated Virginia Tech 62-59 on Saturday in Blacksburg, Va., to snap a four-game losing streak."
 Former Cornell standout Wittman reunites with former head coach as Boston College assistant
When Steve Donahue talks to his Boston College players during practice, it gives Ryan Wittman flashbacks.
Whether it be about an offensive play or words of encouragement, it brings Wittman back to his days as a player on a star-studded, senior-laden Cornell team that won three straight Ivy League Championships under the now-BC head coach.
Wittman, a graduate manager for the Eagles, is on the bottom rung of a long coaching ladder. At the top sits Donahue, his former coach and mentor.
“It shows the person that he is and coach that he is,” Wittman said. “It’s not always all about basketball with him, it’s about helping people grow. And now, I don’t really think our relationship has changed all that much. We were always really open with each other.”
After playing for Donahue at Cornell, Wittman had trouble at the next level. After stepping away from the game as a player, Wittman was offered a spot by Donahue on his coaching staff with Boston College (5-11, 1-2 Atlantic Coast), and has taken on an important role with the Eagles in his first season with the team.
“He mentioned that they had this spot open,” Wittman said. “He said I’d be a great fit. It was a no-brainer for me.”
At Cornell, Wittman averaged 16.8 points per game through his four-year career, is the leading scorer all-time in the Ivy League and the only player in program history to surpass 2,000 points. He was also the face of a 2009-10 team that went to the Sweet 16.
But when he graduated, his post-college basketball career never took off. He decided to officially pack it in this past summer, taking a job with a real estate company.
That’s when Donahue reached out to him about the open spot, a job that would allow him to study for his master of business administration and get coaching experience.
The two hadn’t competed together since the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The last time they were on the same court, Cornell lost to No. 1-seeded Kentucky 62-45 at the Carrier Dome.
Donahue said that team was able to achieve such a feat because of the intelligence and experience of the personnel on that team. The Big Red had eight seniors, and they’d been Ivy Champions the two seasons prior.  
“All of those kids have great basketball minds,” Donahue said of the 2010 team. “It’s one of the reasons we were really good.”
Wittman has gone from top option on the floor to the end of the bench at BC. He’s not a player anymore, which he said is hard, but has accepted a different type of role.
Now, he’s the guy grabbing rebounds for shooters during practice, offering pep talks to younger players and giving Donahue postgame reports.
“Because it’s someone young enough who has just done it, he can be helpful,” Donahue said.
Donahue sometimes asks Wittman for his thoughts on the game, and every time, he said, Wittman is spot on. The head coach recently implemented a more analytical approach to his postgame evaluations, and put Wittman — whose father Randy is the head coach of the Washington Wizards — in charge of that process.
Wittman said he still doesn’t know if he wants to be a head coach after this two-year stint, but he’s thankful for the opportunity. He’s one of three players on that Sweet 16 team who has entered the coaching realm.
Louis Dale, a point guard with Wittman at Cornell, now works with the BC women’s basketball team. Jon Jacques, a senior captain on that team, is now a full-time assistant with the Big Red.
“We definitely all enjoyed the game and enjoyed it at a probably more cerebral level than teams typically do,” Jacques said. “It’s no surprise that a few of us have gotten the itch to get in this business.”
At Boston College, it’s Wittman and Donahue, continuing a relationship they both say has hardly changed.
Donahue said he believes Wittman is an invaluable asset to his team. Though they’re colleagues, Wittman still considers Donahue a mentor.
Wittman was never just a player and Donahue was never just a coach. That’s the reason they’ve had success together.
“It’s been very enjoyable for me, because obviously four years of coaching was fun,” Donahue said. “It’s been a really enjoyable experience to be coaching someone for four years to have this opportunity.”
  • Some highlights of Cornell's visits in recent years to Vanderbilt and Illinois found their way recently onto You Tube.

  • 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: 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 January 13, 2014 is No. 336 out of 351 total Division I teams. While neither the Ken Pomeroy or the Sagarin Rankings (USA Today) are used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, the site ranks Cornell No. 349 in the nation, while the Sagarin Rankings (USA Today) have Cornell at No. 342. Both sites are predominantly used by fans and the media.
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Anonymous said...

What's wrong with Bunce? Same knee problem?

Anonymous said...

It would be so nice if we had a 6' 10 - 7 footer to hold down the post with Tarwater at the 3 and Giddens or Tomic at the 4 but lets face it , its not going to happen! We got to go with what we have! Giddens at the 5 Tomic at the 4 Tarwater at the 3 Cressler at the 2 and Cherry at the 1. Believe this could give us enough size down low to start games and sub accordingly with Lamore and Dave O for the bigs and Hatter and Smith for the guards.

Keeping a balance of offense and what defense we have on the floor at all times and see how that comes out. Believe that would give BigRed its best opportunity to compete in the Ivy this season.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see how that lineup works out, hope we see it in Ivy play.

Anonymous said...

The article mentions that Dale now works with the women's team at Boston College. Is he no longer playing overseas?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Lou has been sitting out the year for rehab of an injury he suffered in Greece.

Anonymous said...

Why does the coach refuse to play LaMore and Bunce?
You keep those 2 on the bench. Why?? That is just crazy. Courtney has too go. No one sit's there bigs like Cornell, Everyone else plays them.