Thursday, January 2, 2014

News and Notes: Thursday Edition

Below, news and notes for Thursday...

  • Comcast Sports of Chicago mentions Cornell recruit, Riley Glassmann (Fremd HS) Palatine, IL, 6-5, G and ranks his team #10 in the Chicago area.  The site writes, "10. Fremd (13-0) (21) Was there a bigger statement win than the Vikings' Wheeling Hardwood Classic win over St. Viator in the championship game? Cornell commit Riley Glassman is playing great ball in the early season and this Fremd team is tough and physical."  High School Cube News selected Glassmann as its Player of the Week and writes:
Riley Glassmann scored at least 20 points three times at the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, including 28 in Fremd's victory over St. Viator in the title game to earn Chicago Sun-Times Athlete of the Week honors.
Fremd shot out of the gates and has rarely looked back to an unbeaten start. Still, questions naturally abound about just how good the Vikings were. Even the players were seeking a certain validation.
"Even though we were undefeated, we still felt as though we had not really put a solid, full four quarters of basketball together in one game and we were looking to do that," star senior guard Riley Glassmann said.
Faced with their most daunting challenge of the year, Glassmann and the Vikings more than measured up.
Playing St. Viator in the championship of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic on Saturday, Glassmann scored 28 points and added seven rebounds with two assists as the Vikings handled the Lions 77-67.
The Cornell-bound Glassmann was named tournament most valuable player. He scored at least 20 points three times and led the team in scoring in each of its four games while shooting nearly 70 percent from the field. For his accomplishments, Glassmann is the Chicago Sun-Times Athlete of the Week.
The victory over St. Viator was not only gratifying because of the magnitude of the game, playing against highly-regarded Ore Arogundade and Roosevelt Smart, Glassmann said it compensated for some disappointing finishes in the past.
"We were really pumped about playing St. Viator, they're a great team, with some great players, but the big thing was, this was our third year in the tournament and we weren't very happy with how we played here in the past," he said.
For the year, Glassmann is averaging 19 points, five rebounds and five assists for the No. 12 Vikings (13-0).
Glassmann is a 6-6 guard whose overall game has blossomed. When he entered the program four years ago, he was wide-eyed and raw. "My freshman year, I was mostly a facilitator. I set screens, that sort of thing," he said.
His offensive skills have developed significantly in his three years as a starter. "He's evolved into an all-around player," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "He's become an overall very skilled player. He can handle the ball, he can score, he plays defense and he's a very intelligent player."
With his length and size, Glassmann is a very difficult defensive matchup who is often too tall for other guards and too quick for forwards. "With my size, I definitely like to post people up and be able to go down low or even step outside," he said.
One of his best attributes is his ability to self-correct his own mistakes. The week before the Wheeling tournament in a conference rivalry with Schaumburg, he started slowly, missing his first couple of shots and by his own admission rushing his game.
He adapted to the pace and style of play and allowed his natural ability to take over.
"This whole year he has showed a lot of poise," Widlowski said. "Against St. Viator, I thought he showed great amount of leadership and put the team on his shoulders and did a great job."
His long arms and excellent footwork make him a defensive force. "Defense is where it starts for us," Glasmann said. "That's where we get our energy." Against St. Viator, Glassmann keyed a defensive effort that limited the high-scoring Lions to just four points in the third quarter as the team patiently built its lead.
He selected Cornell over a host of other Ivy League suitors and said he felt liberated by having his college recruiting out of the way.
"It lifted a lot of weight off of me, and now we can just focus on the rest of the season,'' Glasmann said.
  • The pressure is mounting on the former Cornell coaching staff at Boston College.  BC Interruption notes that season ticket holders are going to have a "Town Hall Meeting."  Meanwhile, Soaring to Glory writes:
Boston College Basketball: It’s Time for Steve Donahue to Go

No later than the conclusion of this season, Boston College Eagles basketball coach Steve Donahue should be dismissed.

For a number of years, we have rooted for this man to succeed. There is no doubting that Donahue himself is a man of good character who has been a passionate, classy ambassador for our university. Furthermore, he believes in the school’s mission and that does count for something.

Unfortunately for him, wins count for more, and he has not delivered nearly enough of them.

We have been patient with Donahue as he has sought to rebuild the Eagles virtually from scratch, perhaps more than he deserved. It is clear that he cares about winning, but the coach has counted on the collective endurance of all the fans. Meanwhile, the resurgence of Boston College basketball has played out like an adaptation of “Waiting for Godot.” Mid-way through the third season of the complete roster reboot, it’s not coming.

In fact, the third year might be the worst yet. During the 2011-12 season, when key players such as Ryan Anderson and Dennis Clifford were freshmen, the expectation was for an ugly campaign. Last year, tangible progress was expected, but the Eagles were not figured to “arrive” just yet. It was, however, supposed to set up a breakthrough 2013-14 season. Instead, we have been treated to one of the saddest displays of basketball seen in Chestnut Hill in years.

At 4-10, there will be no NCAA Tournament for this group, and any postseason invitation at all seems laughable. Boston College is the worst ACC team by a mile at present, and when multiple national beat writers call your team the “most disappointing” in the country, there is a serious problem.

In 2010, after Al Skinner’s dismissal, with reservations I endorsed Donahue as the best of the candidate names we were offered. Concerns about his ability to recruit at this level stood out, but I found it impossible to believe four years ago that the program, a far better one than he inherited at Cornell, would crater under him. It has, and sadly I was wrong.

We cannot be expected to be patient anymore. It was beyond fair to give Donahue two full seasons to craft his team. He practically asked for it in saying it would take him “fifty games” to get this thing going. Now, it’s year three and time to perform, but the Eagles have done the complete opposite. In the crunch time that was December, Boston College lost all of its Division I games, and 25 overall losses is not out of the question. This team is nowhere near competitiveness, seemingly regressing across the board from last year’s thoroughly mediocre season and descending into a lack of toughness and emotion.

In admitting that Donahue cares about winning, another relevant question must be asked: Can he? Right now, with a relatively large sample size at our disposal, the answer would appear to be no. This is the reality which has confronted Boston College fans and may likewise be facing decision-makers in Boston College Athletics. At some point, assuming that this negative trend continues, personal feelings will have to be put aside and a business decision will have to be made.

Hopes were high when Donahue took over. After all, he led Cornell to the Sweet 16 and was always called a good “X’s and O’s” coach. He said all the right things and worked to directly appeal to the fans. Whether or not we thought he would, we all wanted Donahue to succeed. Even now, we still wish him well.

Unfortunately, the red flags started rising almost immediately thereafter. For one thing, several players and recruits left the program, including Brady Heslip, now a hot shooter for Baylor who would have been a major help to this offense. Second, aside from Joe Jones, a weak staff was assembled. When Jones left, no high-level recruiting prowess remained. Today, in 2014, the Eagles are getting beaten out by the likes of Western Kentucky for recruits.

Furthermore, the basketball philosophy being taught on this team is distressing. It is predicated almost solely on jacking jumpers, and was even before Dennis Clifford got hurt. This in itself is not necessarily a problem (though they’re not even that good at shooting), but it is when coupled with bad defense; this year’s team might be the worst we’ve seen yet on that end. Time and time again, opposing players have shredded Boston College’s non-existent interior defense for effort-free trips to the hoop while jump shooters have had a number of uncontested looks. The Eagles look uninterested in doing a thing about it and Donahue has been slow to adjust.

You’re not going to grind out wins in this conference if your team plays horrible defense and rarely scraps for the ball. Based upon what this team is doing now, knowing that defense will be an ongoing issue and that the offense will be nothing better than streaky, it is time to admit that Donahue’s brand of basketball is not going to work here, if only because of his roster. You can win with some decent shooters at Cornell against poor Ivy League defenses, but in the ACC, regressing offensive talent and invisible defense is a recipe for disaster. Without toughness, grit, and complementary talent, it’s simply not sustainable.

Fan apathy has existed as part of this program for years, but it’s still growing. Well-meaning attempts to get the students interested in the team have largely failed, not surprisingly because the product has been unpleasant for most of Donahue’s tenure. Students are not going to crawl out of their dorms on cold winter nights to watch a bad basketball team, and the locals will likewise stay home. At the end of the day, while incentives are a noble idea that should ultimately be commended, the most effective way to get fans to the games is to win.

In the end, Donahue is losing big with a team that was expected to be good and the talent prospects for the future via recruiting look bleak. After several years and little or no net progress, it is about time to pass judgment on Donahue’s performance: he has over-promised and under-delivered.

At this stage, Donahue cannot be retained even if the Eagles look better in ACC play but still miss the postseason. We do not need a false sense of hope just to do this all over again next year. With the same players, staff, and philosophy as in the previous three uninspiring seasons, there is no reason to believe 2014-15 would turn out much differently, easier schedule or not.

After the VCU loss on December 28, Donahue said that the tough non-conference schedule – which he wanted – got the team off to a slow start and “chopped into” their confidence, and they have not recovered. The problem is that as the head coach, it is Donahue’s job to maintain their confidence and focus. By complaining that the tough schedule threw the Eagles off the rails, he is tacitly admitting that he cannot rally his team, or that his team is mentally weak. If a coach has lost his team, he cannot continue. Donahue knew what he was getting himself into this season, and just because they played a hard schedule does not mean it’s okay for them to repeatedly lose horribly. Further complicating matters for him, Donahue has essentially not had any success here, making the NIT with Al Skinner’s players and then losing the rest of the way. There must be accountability.

Speaking of accountability, while there must be a coaching change, most of this team has acquitted itself very poorly. One does not need to go to Netflix to see “The Walking Dead,” because almost every Boston College game is a live performance. At the same time, the assemblage of soft, leaderless players you see on the court was put together by Donahue and his staff. The players are what they are and they are not going to change, to our collective detriment. In a just world, Donahue would not be the only one to walk the plank, as this is not all his fault.

Calling for a coaching change is not something we do lightly, but Boston College basketball is heading in the wrong direction once again. Donahue is a good man, and it is sincerely disappointing that things have come to this, but our loyalties are to the school and the program, not a person. This is not personal, just business. We want Eagles basketball to be better, but Donahue is in over his head. The experiment has failed, and it is now time to find someone else to fix it.
  • 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 2, 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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Unknown said...

Donahue's struggles at BC are interesting to consider in hindsight of Cornell 2013. Makes you realize what a perfect team 2010 was from a personnel standpoint. Where would Cornell have been without the great outside shooters? Looking back, maybe we gave proportionately too much credit to the coaching, and its possible we are giving proportionately too much blame now.

I watched one BC game this year. What stands out immediately is Donahue has zero ACC-level athletes on the floor. What a motley crew he's assembled. He certainly hasn't recruited well, so hard to tell if the X's and O's are or aren't working without the players.

Feels like almost the opposite problem than Cornell 2013. But then, maybe we think our players are more athletically talented than they really are?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

It is not even worthy of debate, the 2013 Cornell team is far more physically gifted.

Nolan is far stronger and more agile with the ball than Wittman.

David Onuorah and Shonn Miller are far more athletically gifted than Jaques, Alex Tyler and Jeff Foote.

The 2010 team did not have anyone with the jets of Devin Cherry.

Robert Hatter is about even athletically with Wroblewski.

And Darryl Smith is a far superior speedster/leaper than Lou Dale.

Now... the 2010 team was far more fundamentally sound, skilled and played better as a unit, but the 2014 team would absolutely score higher in an NFL Combine looking at speed, jumping ability and other measurements of raw ability.

Anonymous said...

Cornell was 181 in KenPom in the season before Witt/Dale/Foote arrived and 191 the season after Witt/Dale/Foote left. They are 342 now.

I siagree with Anon 3:33. We are NOT giving too much blame to the coaching this year. Witt/Dale/Foote made Cornell a nationally-ranked, top 50 team, but Cornell was not a cupcake without them and do not have to be a cupcake right now.

Back then, being top 200 in the country made you top 3 in the Ivy League. Cornell was 303 Sagarin when Donahue took them over and he improved them over 120 stops to top 3 in the Ivy League before landing the Big 3. Those of us who were actually on campus at the time (2002-2006 in my case) knew how incredibly the team improved over that period I personally would like to thank Coach D for that even though so many fans do not seem to recognize what incredible progress was made.

Also, not to mention people like Foote didn't arrive in great shape -- don't forget this guy was a skeletal division 3 reject back then; it's just that player development was actually a thing that happened at Cornell back then and he improved over time.

And who knows whether Dale or Witt would even have considered Cornell if they were the 300+ cupcake they had been when Donahue took over rather than a team who finished 2nd the year Wittman and Dale were being recruited. Success probably begat success.

I completely agree that the team has more physical talent now but the coach is terrible. Donahue is having trouble at BC but he pulled Cornell out of the gutter in the Ivy well before the Big 3 arrived and the helplessness surrounding our situation like "we're inevitably just a cupcake without the big 3; donahue was just lucky" is misinformed but mostly just really sad.

millertimeatnewman said...

This is the whole problem. Contrary to possible belief, this is not an NFL Combine.

The 2010 team took a bunch of unathletic, slow white guys to the Sweet 16 because they were quite possibly the most fundamentally sound, together, well bound team to ever play in the Ivy League.

The 2013 team has a bunch of players individually running the course at the NBA Taco Bell Skills Challenge.

Unknown said...

I made the first comment, and I was posing the question, not stating an opinion.

As to the responses, yes Foote developed into a great player, and he was 5 inches taller than Miller and Onourah, so that makes up for a lot of athleticism. I also remember Geoff Reeves being a superior athlete, and wondered why he didn't contribute more at the time. Wittman was 6'7ish. Cressler is 6'4ish. etc down the line. There are different types of athleticism other than what is measured at a combine.

I remember the mid-year Donahue teams as over-achievers who played well as a team - which speaks to good coaching. When I watch this years team, I feel like there are really good athletes on the floor, who don't really know how to play basketball. That would indicate bad coaching.

Guys like Cressler and Hatter seem to be succeeding on their own, without a good team scheme to support them. Cherry is the ultimate one-man-show, hence the high turnovers. It certainly all could be blamed on coaching.

On the other hand, why is Donahue laying an egg at BC? His methods don't work in a high-end league? He had no recruiting support and his team's talent level is too low?

It's just interesting that now both teams suck, Cornell and BC. Sometimes things aren't as simple as they look, and sometimes they are.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Can we leave race/ethnicity out of this?

This is not about race.

And the 2010 team did have some ridiculous athletes, including Errick Peck, Andre Wilkins, Geoff Reeves (a white kid who could jump out of the building) and Lou Dale.

Meanwhile, Mark Coury and Alex Tyler could bench press tractor trailer trucks.

Would hardly call the 2010 team unathletic. But the 2013 team is definitely at another level.

Anonymous said...

naiighDefense and turnovers are a big part of problem. #1 play more zone & teach it #2 Slow down and play more structured half court offence #3 change lineup Post - Dior & Braxton - PF Tarwatter & Onural - PG Cressler & Hatter - SG Cherry & Scelfo - SG Hstter & Cressler. Cressler and Hatter could alternate at positions but Cressler needs to be in game for stability. Cressler 22 turnovers, Cherry 44 turnovers & Hatter 23 turnovers with 100 minutes less paying time.