Friday, February 21, 2014

News and Notes: Friday Edition

Get all the information you need about Cornell's games vs Yale, Friday, February 21, 2014 and Brown, Saturday, February 22, 2014 (TV: NBC Sports, Newman Nation Jersey Night), with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center.  Below, news and notes for Friday...

  • If you missed it, Inside Ivy League Basketball interviewed Nolan Cressler  Wednesday night.  Cressler confirmed Shonn Miller is back to practicing with the team and noted that Shonn's presence "definitely makes practice more competitive." 
  • Saturday's game in Newman Arena (8 pm) vs. Brown will be nationally televised on NBC Sports and it also "Newman Nation Jersey Day."  
  • In the NBA D-League with the Springfield Armor (Brooklyn Nets affiliate), Jeff Foote (Cornell '10) finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists, 2 steals last night.
  • It did not go well last night for Errick Peck (Cornell '13) and Purdue against Michigan State.
  • As Harvard inches closer to another Ivy League title, a look below and reminder of just some of the many national headlines (New York Times, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, CNN/Sports Illustrated, USA Today,, YahooSports, Fox Sports etc.) that the Crimson made in the last five years as they built their "successful" program.  These headlines include coverage of Harvard's recruiting violations, reductions in academic standards, mass player cuts and most recently, last year's academic scandal which included four members of the Harvard basketball team.
Hey, Cornell got its first Division I win last weekend! The Big Red nearly blew it by coughing up a 15-point lead in the space of five minutes, but it held on for a 70-67 win over Dartmouth. But have no fear: with dates against Yale and Brown this weekend, Cornell should quickly return to its getting-blown-out ways. The Bulldogs will cruise to set up their Sunday showdown with Columbia.
Pick: Yale
For this battle of bear-affiliated universities, it’s time to bring to light one of the darkest chapters in mascot history: the story of Touchdown, the Cornell bear. Touchdown has one of the more remarkable Wikipedia pages I’ve seen in a while, and if all contained therein is indeed true, then Cornell’s early 20th century athletic directors have a lot to answer for.
Between 1915 and 1939, Cornell had four different live bears as mascots, and for some reason, everyone thought it was pretty much okay to let them loose among crowds of people. The first Touchdown escaped a photo op in Atlantic City, ran into a candy store, and then jumped off a boardwalk into the ocean. After getting rescued by two football players, Touchdown then “walked back to the hotel alone,” because godless, marauding killing machines never require supervision on their trips back to continental breakfast.
That was just the start. Cornell’s football team reportedly left the second Touchdown on the field after a loss to Penn, who took the bear in and brought him on their upcoming trip to the Rose Bowl…where he was never heard from again. That’s right, the Wikipedia page tells us, “The bear’s whereabouts after the trip are unknown.” Again, no one could be troubled to look after what would one day become a 1500-lb destroyer.
The third and fourth Touchdowns met similar fates. Touchdown III was let loose in the Cornell Club in New York City and then disappeared forever (traditional Ithacan sacrificial rite). After a big win against Ohio State, Touchdown IV was allowed to terrorize a Cleveland nightclub before being returned to the wild in the woods of Pennsylvania.
Let’s check in with the head of Cornell’s Athletic Association at the time, Romeyn Berry, for his thoughts on the ursine era. According to Berry, the original Touchdown was “hungry, mean, ill-bred, and dangerous,” and Touchdown III was a “disagreeable beast” with a “fetid odor.” Okay, then. Conclusions to be drawn here: the United States had no laws in the 1910s, and I wish Touchdown would make his long-awaited return to devour an Ithacan or two.
Pick: Brown
  • The NCAA ranks Cornell as the #19 best factoid from last week and writes, "Cornell beat Dartmouth 70-67 this past Friday for its first win against a Division I team this season, snapping a 19-game losing streak to such opponents. The Big Red lost the next night to Harvard 67-44."
  • The Heights discusses keeping Steve Donahue for another year at Boston College.  Jeff Bozello of CBS Sports lists Donahue on the national "hot seat" and speculates Donahue could land back at Cornell.  He writes:
Steve Donahue | Boston College
History: 53-71 in 4th season at Boston College, 0 NCAA tourney appearances
This season: 7-19
Why he is on the hot seat: Donahue made the NIT in his first season with the Eagles, but hasn't done much since. The Eagles are one of the worst power-conference teams in the country, beating just one Division I team since November before the win at Syracuse. They have been a massive disappointment, given the optimism entering the season.
Will he survive it? No. Donahue seemed to have things trending upward entering the year, improving by seven wins last season and bringing back two all-conference players. Instead, Boston College has been awful -- despite what Wednesday's upset of Syracuse might suggest -- and new athletic director Brad Bates (hired in 2012) will likely look for someone new. Donahue could end up back at Cornell.
  • Yale head coach James Jones insists on taking the challenges of the Ivy title hunt one game at a time.  “It hadn’t even crossed my mind,” Jones told the Yale Daily News when asked about the prospects of a slump. “I’m not thinking about a 4-game roadtrip; I’m thinking about Cornell. After I’m done with Cornell, we’ll think about Columbia.”
  • The Daily Pennsylvanian says Penn has only "pride" left to play for and notes, "The last time the Quakers played at the Palestra, it seemed as if coach Jerome Allen’s squad had finally turned a corner. Penn took games against Cornell and Columbia two weeks ago, its first Ivy weekend sweep in nearly two seasons."
  • The Harvard Crimson previews Harvard's upcoming weekend and notes of the Crimson's last weekend, "Looking to redeem itself in the Empire State last weekend, Harvard forced Columbia into double overtime to pull out the victory before handily rolling over Cornell—the worst team in the league."
  • 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 February 21, 2014 is No. 330 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. 339 in the nation, while the Sagarin Rankings (USA Today) have Cornell at No. 334. Both sites are predominantly used by fans and the media.
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Anonymous said...

Very happy to hear that Shonn is back practicing with the team.

We will be improved with him next year, but I'm deeply skeptical that we'll win 20 games, if we play 6 BCS teams as has been suggested.

This team ranks 300+ in virtually every meaningful defensive and offensive metric. As Mike James has pointed out, this team was terrible defensively last year as well, with Shonn. It takes a leap of faith to say that things will magically change and everything will break right for us next year. Could it happen? Sure, it's possible. Is it likely? No.

These problems won't fix themselves. We will be better, and I think 2016 will be the year that we take a step forward if all breaks right for us. But to suggest that we'll be a 20+ win/post season team next year given the obvious problems with this team seems overly optimistic. I would love to be proven wrong.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Mike James twists and bends stats to the point where they have no meaning.

He points to Cornell with Shonn in 2013. But he ignores the fact that Shonn played that season with Josh Figini, Eitan Chemerinki, Galal Cancer, Jonathan Gray, Errick Peck and Nolan Cressler.

All of the above are gone except for Cressler.

In other words, Cornell's 2013 team defensive rating with Shonn is IRRELEVANT to discussing 2015.

Shonn will play next season with Nolan, Darryl Smith, David Onuorah, Devin Cherry, Deion Giddens, Robert Hatter, Jordan Abdur Ra'oof et al.

This is a different team with a different foundation.

What we know is that Shonn is a defensive stud. And he will paired with some very interesting pieces that he did not have in 2013.

Frankly, I think Onuorah, Miller, Cressler, Smith and Cherry could be a very highly rated Ivy defense.