Wednesday, February 19, 2014

News and Notes: Wednesday Edition

Below, news and notes for Wednesday...

  • Cornell's full length 2010 Sweet Sixteen game against Kentucky was uploaded this week onto YouTube by the NCAA.

  • IvyHoopsOnline picked a song for each team in the Ivy League representing their season and notes:
Cornell: “The Basement” by Eric Hutchinson
Out of respect for getting the win last weekend, the Big Red has been spared Beck’s mid-90′s classic “Loser”, but no one in Ithaca should get any ideas about moving out of 8th place anytime soon.
8. Cornell (2-20, 1-7): In 25 consecutive games against Division I opponents, Cornell’s squad has lost 25. All that changed when the Big Red managed to put up a 15-point lead on Dartmouth at home and hold on to win 70-67. Sophomore guard Noah Cressler managed 17 points against both Dartmouth and Harvard.
Senior forward Dwight Tarwater calmly stepped to the free-throw line with one second remaining against Dartmouth on Saturday. With his team leading by one point, the senior had just intercepted a pass on the previous possession, squashing the Green’s attempt at a game-winner. Though time ran out on the clock, the officials maintained that Tarwater had been fouled first, adding one second to the clock and another opportunity for Dartmouth should he miss. Tarwater was unfazed. He sank both free throws, giving his team a 70-67 win, its first Ivy League victory of the season.
It was an uncharacteristic ending for Cornell, only fitting in a season that has been marked by close finishes and disappointments. But the Red finally had something to celebrate on its home court Saturday, even if the clock had to run down to zero three different times before the final whistle blew.
“The anticipation for the game to end when we had the lead was crazy, because we just wanted to get the win and feel good about it, because we haven’t had that feeling against a [Division I] team all year,” said sophomore guard Nolan Cressler.
The late game heroics were set up with 19 seconds left, when Dartmouth’s Eli Harrison knocked down a three-pointer to make the score 66-65 in Cornell’s favor. Junior guard Devin Cherry was fouled on the next possession, but was only able to connect on one free-throw, allowing the Green to tie the score with a layup the next time down the court.
Cherry was then fouled again, making one-of-two from the line for the second straight time, leaving Dartmouth down by one with the ball in its hands and an opportunity to run the clock down and try for a game-winner. That was when Tarwater took over, forcing a turnover and then hitting his free throws when the officials ruled that there was still time left on the clock.
“Regardless of the situation, you have to stay focused until the job is finished,” said senior guard Jake Matthews. 
The first twenty minutes of the game were all Cornell, as the Red went into the locker room leading by 11. Cressler had 11 points on three-of-four shooting from beyond the arc in the half, and Tarwater chipped in seven and pulled down five boards.
The Red did not let up after the break, leading by fifteen midway through the second half after Matthews nailed two free throws. However, Dartmouth took over from that point, surging to a 16-1 scoring run that tied the score at 52 with just under seven minutes to play. According to Matthews, the Red needs to improve its consistency if it hopes to quell those types of runs against future opponents.
“We just need to be more consistent. We can’t have those four or five minute stretches where we break down defensively,” Matthews said. “It’s simply a matter of staying focused and giving maximum energy every defensive possession.”
Though Dartmouth clawed its way back into the game, it was the Red’s veterans who helped whether the storm in the second half. Cherry had 10 points in the final twenty minutes, Matthews had eight and Tarwater had another seven while grabbing six rebounds. All three ended the game in double figures along with Cressler, who led all scorers with 17.
“It’s always a plus when you have four guys in double figures,” Matthews said. “Offensive days like that will definitely help you win.”
The Red was unable to carry that momentum into the following day’s matchup with the conference’s top team. Harvard came to Newman Arena with one Ivy loss and just four total losses on the season. The Crimson’s talented backcourt proved too much for Cornell to handle, as guards Laurent Rivard, Siyani Chambers and Brandyn Curry combined for 32 of Harvard’s 67 points.
“They got a lot of open looks, especially early,” Cressler said. “We got messed up from their penetration and we had to help, which gave them some open looks which we didn’t contest well.”
Cressler led all scorers again with 17, but no other Cornell player scored in double figures, and the team shot just 36 percent from the field compared to Harvard’s 60.
Though the Red came up short against Harvard, getting its first Ivy win proved to be a burden off the team’s shoulders, according to Cressler.
“It was a huge relief once that game [against Dartmouth] ended, because if you think about how long we’ve been going at it, since early October, practicing and working at it every day, and all season long we haven’t seen the results we’ve wanted,” he said. “So to finally get a result that we’ve been working for felt good.”
With six games left in Ivy play, the Red has the opportunity to play spoiler when Yale comes to town next weekend, as the Bulldogs are currently tied for the top spot in the conference.
“We are getting better everyday, and to see us get a win will propel us even further,” Matthews said.
  • Heading into the Syracuse-Boston College game, Nunes Magician writes, "Steve Donahue worked his way up the Ivy League ranks as an assistant at Penn before taking over as head coach for the Cornell Big Red. He led the Big Red to three NCAA Tournament opportunities, including a run to the Sweet Sixteen in 2010. After that, he took the BC job, leading them to the NIT in his first season. The last two have fallen short of the post-season and all signs point to his days being numbered."
Decision time coming at BC
Their last victory came three weeks ago. Their next win might not come until—next season.
If you are an optimistic person–and Boston College basketball coach Steve Donahue falls into that category–you could look at the 6 remaining games of the regular season and feel that the Eagles still can build a foundation for next season.
If you are of the “glass is half empty” mind-set, you might see a 6-19 overall record and a 2-10 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference and wonder when, or if,y3 win No. 7 is going to occur.
And if you are Boston College athletic director Brad Bates you must ask yourself this question. Will it be better next season?
That answer is the hash tag to Donahue’s future at BC, which is now nearing the end of its fourth season without visible signs of progress.
Does Bates stick with Donahue through the fifth year of his contract, hoping that the turnaround does come?
If Bates does not make a move and the Eagles have a repeat of this season, they will have squandered another year in what must again be a rebuilding program.
This was going to be a “break through” season at BC. The Eagles looked like they were ready to make a move forward. Donahue had all five starters returning from a team which finished with a 16-17 record and was regarded as “dangerous” in the sense that they had the ability to beat almost everyone they played.
Included in the returning package were two all ACC caliber players in guard Olivier Hamlin and Ryan Anderson. The Eagles were a favorite “sleeper” selection of many prognosticators.
But a slow start out of the gate because Donahue admitted he overscheduled his team has turned into a slower pace in the ACC season. Going into Wednesday night’s game at No. 1 Syracuse, BC has beaten only Virginia Tech in the last two months. The losing streak is now 5 games, but three of the five losses were by 6 points or less.
Donahue’s backers said that given time, he will turn BC into a team which can compete in the ACC. But how much is enough time?
At Cornell, Donahue went through seven consecutive losing seasons before he hit a recruiting class lode that produced a Sweet 16 team—almost unheard of at the Ivy League level.
The ACC is big boy basketball and will get even tougher next season when Louisville completes the Big East infusion of talent which includes Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Throw Duke and North Carolina into the mix and you are looking at No. 7 in the rotation.
Bates did not hire Donahue, just as he didn’t hire football coach Frank Spaziani, who bottomed out in his fourth season at the Heights with a 2-10 record which got him fired.
Donahue has had enough time to build a program with the players and the style that he wants. But he also is a coach who has no pedigree beyond the Ivy League level.
If BC were a school and a program where basketball was high profile, the questions about Donahue’s future and the direction of the program would be much frequent and no doubt louder.
But the football season is over–for the time being–and spring training has begun. The start of the regular season is only six weeks away. BC hockey is chasing another national championship for Jerry York. There are other items of interest for Boston sports fans.
BC basketball? Does anyone outside of a small group inside the confines of Conte Forum really care.
The bottom line is that the Eagles are simply a bad basketball team having a bad season. One statistic leaps out. Of the 351 schools who play Division 1 basketball, the Eagles are nestled in at No.343, ahead of only such schools as Wright State, Wyoming, UC Davis, Southern Utah, Hartford, Montana, Eastern Kentucky and Denver.
Among the major conferences, the next worst rebounding team is Seton Hall from the Big East and Washington State of the Pac-12 at No. 282.
There is still time for a late winter surge which could Donahue and the Eagles something to take out of this season.
But time is also running out on the season and perhaps Donahue’s tenure at BC.


Anonymous said...

Learning that the 2010 Kentucky Sweet Sixteen game was loaded onto YouTube by the NCAA is heart-breaking. 2010 seems like an eternity ago.

The worst irony is that the athletic department's book about that season was titled, "A Blueprint For Success."

A "blueprint" is the last thing 2010 was. Steve didn't "build" a foundation for success. He got lucky when a couple of things fell into place, including completely random events such as Jeff arriving on campus via a hospital nurse's referral. The success of 2008-10 was a random event, nothing more.

You play basketball for more than a century and, eventually, you're going to get lucky. That's what we call variance.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the 2010 Cornell-Kentucky game. It was a bittersweet game, given the result, but also a source of much pride for Cornell fans.

It's also a depressing reminder that we basically went from the 17th best program in the country to just about the 17th worst program in four years. I'm curious - what other programs have managed to do that?

Here's to hoping for better days, when we'll be competitive in the Ivy race and hopefully be a legit power.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

I wouldn't call Steve Donahue lucky. Luck is usually associated with a single event. But the 2010 team (and its dominant predecessors of 2008 and 2009) were built on 5 superstars, namely: Foote, Wittman, Dale, Gore, and Wroblewski as well as come critical role players such as Coury, Reeves, Tyler and Wire. I would say Steve built a dynasty brick by brick with a Blueprint. BUT... those 2009 and 2010 recruiting classes were somewhat busts and Steve did not lay the bricks to have championships in the following years.