Saturday, January 4, 2014

News and Notes: Saturday Edition

Get all the information you need about Cornell's game at St. Bonaventure (TV: NBC Sports Network), Saturday January 4, 2014 with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center.  Below, news and notes for Saturday...

  • The Pittsburgh Post Gazette discusses the rising talent level out of Western Penn and notes, "Former Plum standout Nolan Cressler, a sophomore at Cornell in the Ivy League, is averaging 16.7 points and 4.8 rebounds.
  • Barry Leonard talks to ESPN Ithaca about Cornell Basketball.
  • BC Interruption reports that Boston College is holding a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the program.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, "Archbishop Wood's Pat Smith, a senior swingman and Cornell recruit, is averaging 19.4 points."  From action last night in Western New York, the Olean Times Herald writes, "Senior Wil Bathurst added 24 points for [Olean High School], which has won 21 in a row at home..Bathurst had one of his best rebounding efforts of the season, pulling down 10 boards. The Cornell commit looked to push the ball after each rebound, getting up and down the court and driving to the hoop.  With his future teammates and coaches in attendance — the Big Red plays at St. Bonaventure this afternoon — Bathurst delivered a solid performance."
  • The Buffalo News writes, "Other men’s teams in action today include... St. Bonaventure hosting Cornell in a nationally televised game from the Reilly Center (2 p.m., NBCSN)... Bona (9-4) looks to end the non-conference slate with a win over Cornell (0-12). A 10th non-conference win by the Bonnies would be the most for them heading into Atlantic 10 play during the Mark Schmidt coaching era."
Cornell men's basketball hoping new year means new result

ITHACA — Bill Courtney will no doubt be hoping that more than just the year is new when his Cornell men’s basketball team hits the floor for the first time in 2014 Saturday to take on non-conference foe St. Bonaventure.

The game, slated to tip off at 2 p.m., will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network (Time Warner channel 59).

The Big Red (0-12), which has the nation’s longest losing streak at 18 games, will have its hands full with the Bonnies (9-4), who have won three of their past four and have yet to lose this season in five games on the Bob Lanier Court at the Reilly Center. St. Bonaventure is coming off an 80-73 home victory Monday over Delaware.

In a season of negative superlatives for the Big Red, Courtney’s squad will be looking to avoid another one — the first 0-13 start in program history. To do that, the Big Red will need a performance similar to its first-half effort in the season opener at Syracuse, when it raced to a 14-point midway through and led by six at the break before losing, 82-60.

The Bonnies are led by the backcourt trio of 6-foot-4 senior Matthew Wright (16.3 points per game), 6-3 senior Charlon Kloof (12.8 ppg.) and 6-4 junior Andell Cumberbatch (12.3 ppg.). Cumberbatch has come on of late, averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds over his past six games.

Wright led the Bonnies with 23 points in Monday’s victory, in which St. Bonaventure held the Blue Hens to 38 percent shooting and 10 points below their scoring average.

Courtney’s youthful Big Red has also been led by its backcourt trio, led by sophomore Nolan Cressler (16.7 ppg., 4.8 rebounds per game), along with freshman Robert Hatter (11.3 ppg.) and junior Devin Cherry (10.4 ppg.). The Red’s lone senior starter, 6-6 forward Dwight Tarwater, is averaging 7.2 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds.

Cornell’s defense has yielded 83.3 points per game and is allowing its opponents to shoot 49 percent from the floor, including 41 percent from beyond the arc. Cornell has allowed as many 3s as it has made (96), although the Red has attempt 71 more than its opposition and is shooting 31.6 percent from long range.

Rebounding has also been an issue for Cornell; it is being outrebounded by nearly six per game, while St. Bonaventure has been more than six boards per game better than its opponents this season.

Cornell’s last win in the series with St. Bonaventure came in the 2004-05 season, a 58-54 victory at the Reilly Center. It was the fifth straight win for Cornell at the time in the series, but the Bonnies have won each of the past three meetings, including 72-68 on Nov. 14, 2012, last season at Newman Arena.

The Big Red wraps up its nonconference schedule next Saturday at Newman Arena against Division III foe Oberlin College (3-7), before opening Ivy League play on Jan. 18 at Columbia.

NOTES: Cornell ranks last among the Ivies this season in scoring offense (66.1 ppg.) and defense; Pennsylvania (78.4 ppg. against) is the only other team allowing more than 75 points per game. The Quakers are 2-9 thus far. ... St. Bonaventure is 424-188 at home (.693) since opening the Reilly Center in 1966. ... St. Bonventure’s only loss in its last four games came at Wake Forest, 77-62 on Dec. 17.
  • The Olean Times Herald also previews today's game:

    Bonnies expect a test from winless Cornell

    By the time they played their first Atlantic 10 contest, the Bonnies were already reeling from three-straight setbacks of 19 points or more, only halfway through an eventual six-game slide.

    This year, they have an opportunity to do the opposite.

    By picking up perhaps their biggest win of the year — an 80-73 triumph over Delaware — on Monday night, the Bonnies can win three in a row to close the OOC campaign, and, in the process, become the first Bona team to win double-digit non-league contests since the 1997-98 NIT squad.

    And that chance comes this afternoon (2 o’clock, NBCSN-TV, WPIG-FM, WHDL-AM) when Bona hosts Cornell, which owns the nation’s longest current losing streak, in the Reilly Center.

    With a win, coach Mark Schmidt’s team (9-4) can go into Wednesday’s home matchup with Richmond having won four of five and with 10 victories already under its collective belt.

    How big would that be?

    “It’s momentum,” Schmidt said. “You never want to lose. And the next game, when you lose, is that much more difficult.

    “It’s important to get 10 wins ... that’s been a goal from the very beginning. You want to have some momentum going into the Atlantic 10 because we know how difficult it’s going to be.”

    Added junior guard Jordan Gathers, who has given Bona eight points per game in primarily coming off the bench: “Last year, we went on a three-game losing streak and I think that’s partly why we got off to such a bad start (in A-10 season).

    “Winning three in a row would be a big confidence boost (for us).”

    The Bonnies have already played a pair of teams with an RPI of 300 or higher (Niagara-320, UMass-Lowell-337) this season.

    This afternoon, they get one more.

    Cornell (0-12), which currently sits at No. 345 (of 350), has lost 18 in a row dating back to last season, the longest live streak in the country. It’s one of just nine programs without a win against a Division I opponent on the year.

    Bona, a whopping 20-point favorite in this one, has, for the most part, maintained focus against those “lesser” opponents, especially at home, where it’s won all five games by an average of 17 points.

    It knows it has to do the same this afternoon.

    “They’re good,” Schmidt said. “They’re a team that’s right there. They’re going to get somebody.”

    “We can’t overlook their record,” Gathers added. “We have to look at it as another game. We’ve been here at home, the crowd has been great, the energy and intensity has been there for 40 minutes at home. We want to protect our home court as much as we can.”

    The Bonnies are leary of just how desperate a winless team, especially this late in the season, can be. And their recent history with the Big Red only further illustrates their need for focus.

    Yes, Schmidt’s team has won all three matchups since the series was renewed in 2010. But two of those games came down to the final seconds and in the other, the home Bonnies had just a two-point lead at halftime.

    “We don’t worry about records,” Schmidt noted. “ If we don’t play, we’re going to lose no matter if the team is 12-0 or 0-12. That’s the mentality.

    “We’ve played them the last three years and every game has been tough. Our guys understand they have talent, they’re well-coached and it’s going to be a tough game.”

    Said Gathers, “It’s deinitely on my mind. Even though their record doesn’t show it, they’re still a good team. Every game we’ve played with them it’s come down the stretch. We have to keep that in mind.”

    The Big Red, off to their worst start in program history, have struggled since winning three-straight Ivy League titles from 2008-10, which included a Sweet 16 appearance in 2010. They’re just 35-64 under fourth-year coach Bill Courtney.

    They’ll bring a trio of talented guards into the RC this afternoon, however.

    Sophomore Nolan Cressler scores a team-best 17 points per game and has hit on 26-of-87 3-pointers on the year. Junior Devin Cherry (10 points) and freshman Robert Hatter (11 points) are also in double figures.

    For Bona, it starts with stopping the Big Red’s backcourt.

    “They’re very good,” Schmidt said. “Plus, (Dwight) Tarwater is a (power forward) that can really shoot the ball. Then they go small and put Cressler at the 4, and that creates problems.

    “They shoot 25 3s a game, so you have to do a good job at the 3-point line. It starts with their guards; we have to keep them out of the paint.”

    The Bonnies, who have already tied their best non-conference win total under Schmidt, are determined to finish the OOC on a high note. But they know today is no guarantee.

    “We’re not going to overlook them,” Schmidt said. “If they beat us, it’s not going to be because we overlook them.”

  • 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 4, 2014 is No. 342 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. 342 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...

Any word on Hatter's status for today's game at St. Bonaventure?

And are there any other injury/illness issues with the Red for today (Giddens, Bunce, etc.)?


Anonymous said...

That was a pretty pathetic performance, injuries or not. We looked like a D3 team out there in the second half (and not just because we played mostly D3 level players in the final minutes).

I'm sure the players and coaching staff are good, solid citizens. But they are collectively a Division 1 basketball disaster.