Monday, March 3, 2014

News and Notes: Monday Edition

Below, news and notes for Monday...

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – There are still two games left, but Cornell’s 2013-14 season will be ending after them. There won’t be any postseason play, and the only possible drama – that of whether or not the Big Red would win a Division I game this season – was removed two weeks ago when they beat Dartmouth. So at this point, maybe a look ahead is warranted, because this season will go down as one to forget.
The season was already going to be a tough one before it began. They had already lost a lot from a year earlier just from the senior class. In addition, Shonn Miller, their best player, suffered a shoulder injury late last year that had not healed well, and redshirting was possible. As the season is almost over, we know that has happened. They lost two more starters they didn’t expect to as well, so this team was basically starting over.

“I don’t think anybody expected it to be this rough,” said head coach Bill Courtney. “We knew we could have some struggles in losing Shonn (Miller), but also in losing Galal Cancer and Errick Peck to Purdue.”
With that adversity came opportunity, as is often the case, and a couple of players have noticeably seized it. Nolan Cressler and Devin Cherry stand out in that regard. Certainly, some of their improved numbers comes out of necessity, but they also took advantage of the opportunity and have grown overall.
Cherry has almost doubled his scoring from last season, and while his three-point percentage is down from last season his overall shooting percentage is up. He has also greatly improved his assist and turnover numbers, as he had almost twice as many turnovers as assists in his first two seasons but now has more assists than turnovers – and nearly three times as many assists as he had a year ago. Cressler, meanwhile, has nearly doubled his scoring. While his three-point shooting has gone down, it’s still a healthy 36 percent, and his overall shooting numbers are not down much.
The freshmen have shown promise, although the most promising of them, Robert Hatter, has come down with mono. It started when he hurt his groin, then felt ill. He’s the only true point guard they have in the program, and he had been pressed into a big role earlier than the staff probably wanted to. As such, he certainly had some ups and downs, and now they hope he will get well in time to get into a significant number of postseason workouts. They have also seen improvement over the season from guard Darryl Smith, who led them with 14 points at Harvard on Friday night, and big man David Onourah has also developed. The next thing for Onourah to improve on is staying out of foul trouble so he can get more experience.
Next year, the Big Red get Miller back. Add him to the aforementioned emerging supporters, as well as the freshmen who now have a year under their belt, and this team has to be ready for a good leap. Cherry and Cressler haven’t gotten better only because someone had to step up, and that bodes well.
“It’s a process for us,” said Courtney. “It’s not just a this year process, it’s a process for the whole program for the next few years.”
Call it youthful exuberance, or something else, but one thing that the adversity and the losing hasn’t done is break the players. Coaches always hang on to losses longer than players, and perhaps there’s a degree to which that has helped this team. A couple of early losses in games that were there for the taking may have eroded the confidence a little, but it didn’t change the effort.
“Those kids have kept us up because of their attitudes and the way they’ve reacted to the adversity,” said Courtney. “They’ve been strong through it all. We’re down a few guys now, but the guys are still together, they’re still working, still fighting. I love coaching this group.”
The Ivy League looks to be in an up cycle, as several young teams appear to be on the rise. Harvard will still be a contender next year, and Princeton will still have plenty of veteran talent although they will lose their best player. Yale remains a consistent top-half-plus team, while Brown has good young talent and Dartmouth has a few good classes put together but has been hampered by injuries this year.
So while Cornell will have a lot returning, that will be the case in an improving league. As such, the jury is out on whether that will translate into contention. We will have eight months to speculate on that starting in about a week.
The Red took its recent struggles on the road this weekend, visiting Harvard on Friday night and Dartmouth on Saturday. The Crimson, the top team in the Ivy League, presented a tough matchup with its talented backcourt. The Green, on the other hand, is a team that Cornell was able to beat in one of its two victories this season.
Harvard (22-4, 9-1 Ivy League) welcomed the struggling Red to Cambridge, fresh off a 59-47 win over Princeton the weekend before. The Crimson came out with a flurry of strong offensive plays and a lockdown defense that the Red struggled to penetrate. Sophomore guard Nolan Cressler and junior guard Devin Cherry — Cornell’s scoring leaders — shot a combined one-for-eight in the first half. Freshman Darryl Smith was the only Red player who was able to exploit the defense, leading to nine first half points for the slashing guard.
Harvard, on the other hand, found its stride midway through the second half, going on a 15-0 scoring run. At the break, the Crimson owned a 34-18 lead.
The second half told a similar story, despite Cornell’s attempts at mounting a comeback. Harvard’s balanced scoring — with three players in double figures — helped to prevent that surge. The Crimson’s freshman point guard Siyani Chambers put together 15 points and four assists to give his team the upper hand. Cornell left the matchup with a disappointing 72-47 loss, but looked ahead to its game against Dartmouth the following day.
On Saturday evening, the Red pulled into Hanover, N.H. with confidence after having previously beaten the Green (10-16, 3-9 Ivy) two weeks before.
The start of the game was marked by back-and-forth lead changes between the two teams. The Red came out with a strong attack and was able to establish a 15-9 lead before the Green countered and took over. The score at halftime was 36-30 in Dartmouth’s favor.
The second half was all Dartmouth, though, as the Green extended its lead to 12 just three minutes in. The Red made a few runs at reestablishing the lead, but Dartmouth was able to counter every time. Dartmouth’s guard Alex Mitola scored 33 points, connecting on eight of his nine three-pointers, helping his team to a 87-78 victory.
Cressler had an off-night shooting the ball on Saturday, going three-of-seven from the field for nine points. However, other players were able to step in. Sophomore guard Devin Cherry put up 22 points, three assists and three rebounds and junior forward Ned Tomic provided a spark in the paint by adding 12 points in just 13 minutes. Senior forward Dwight Tarwater, who has struggled offensively as of late, shot seven-of-10 from the field en route to 23 points.
The Red has two games left in a season that has been plagued by injuries and disappointments. The team will return home to honor its seniors this weekend when it faces Princeton and Penn.
  • Per the Boston Herald, Steve Donahue is still optimistic at Boston College.  The Herald writes:
Donahue has been through tough times early in his coaching tenure before while at Cornell. His teams there were rebuilding for seven years before a breakthrough. Cornell went to the NCAAs each of his last three seasons, including a Sweet 16 run in his final year, before moving on to the job at BC.  “You just question when you are in the middle of the run at Cornell and you are getting beat by 40 (points), and these teams were so dominant in that league,” Donahue said. “I remember thinking this is going to be really hard.
  • Check out Jeff Foote's (Cornell '10) recent performances in the NBA D-League with the Springfield Armor (Brooklyn Nets affiliate).
  • Division I teams with players or coaches with connections to Cornell include- Boston College (8-21), Army (14-15) and Purdue (15-14).  Boston College's coaching staff includes former Cornell coaches, Steve Donahue, Nat Graham, Izzi Metz and Woody Kampmann and former Cornell player, Ryan Wittman (Cornell '10).  Army is coached by former Cornell coaches, Zach Spiker and Kevin App (who also played for the Big Red) (Cornell '07).  Purdue's roster includes Cornell graduate, Errick Peck (Cornell '13). 
  • 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 March 3, 2014 is No. 329 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. 333 in the nation, while the Sagarin Rankings (USA Today) have Cornell at No. 329. Both sites are predominantly used by fans and the media.
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  • Below, a look at the "Cornell Coaching Plantations"  -- the men's college basketball coaches with ties to Cornell University.
    Jon Jaques (Cornell Class of '10)-Assistant coach at at Cornell. Played for Cornell under Steve Donahue. 
    Ryan Wittman (Cornell Class of '10)-Graduate student  assistant coach at Boston College.  Played for Cornell under Steve Donahue.
    Kevin App (Cornell Class of '07)-Assistant coach at Army. Played for Cornell under Steve Donahue.
    Yanni Hufnagel (Cornell Class of '06)-Assistant coach at Vanderbilt. Served as student-manager at Cornell under Steve Donahue.

    Steve Donahue-Head coach of Boston College. Served as head coach at Cornell between 2000-2010.

    Zach Spiker-Head coach of Army. He served as an assistant coach at Cornell under Steve Donahue from 2004-2009.

    Joe Burke-Head coach of Skidmore College (Division III). He was an assistant coach at Cornell under Steve Donahue between 2001-2004.
    Ricky Yahn-Head coach, Concordia College of Michigan. He was an assistant coach at Cornell during 2010-2011 under Bill Courtney.
    Arlen Galloway-Head coach, Wentworth Institute of Technology.  He was an assistant coach at Cornell between 2011-2013 under Bill Courtney.
    Izzi Metz-Former Head coach Hobart College (Division III). He served as a Cornell assistant coach for five seasons between 2001-2006 under Steve Donahue and is currently an assistant coach at Boston College under Donahue.

    Nat Graham-Associate Head Coach (assistant) at Boston College under Steve Donahue. Served as an assistant coach under Donahue at Cornell from 2005-2010.

    Woody Kampmann-Assistant coach/diurector of basketball operations at Boston College under Steve Donahue. Served as an assistant coach under Donahue at Cornell from 2007-2010.

    Ryan Woerner-Former student intern coach under Steve Donahue during the 2009-2010 season and assistant coach for Cornell's women's team during 2010-2011. Currently director of basketball operations at St. Peter's.

    Steve Robinson-Assistant coach at North Carolina under Roy Williams. He was an assistant coach for Mike Dement at Cornell for two seasons, including on the 1988 Ivy League Championship team.

    Paul Fortier-Assistant coach at Cal Poly. He served as an assistant coach at Cornell during 2003-2005 under Steve Donahue.
    Desmond Oliver-Assistant coach at Charlotte. He was an assistant coach at Cornell between 1998-2000 under Scott Thompson.

  • Cornell alumni that have played professional basketball since 1995 include the following (with NBA or NBA D-League experience noted): Zeke Marshall ('95), Alex Compton ('97), John McCord ('97), Brent Fisher ('98), Jeff Aubry ('99) (NBA D-League), Ray Mercedes ('01), Jaques Vigneault ('03), Karon Barnes ('04), Stevan Marcetic ('04), Cody Toppert ('05) (NBA D-League), Eric Taylor ('05), Andrew Naeve ('07), Ryan Rourke ('07), Jason Hartford ('08), Louis Dale ('10), Jeff Foote ('10) (NBA and NBA D-League), Ryan Wittman ('10) (NBA D-League), Jon Jaques ('10), Alex Tyler ('10), Aaron Osgood ('11), Adam Wire ('11), Andrew Ferry ('12).   Throughout the year we provide periodic updates on Cornell's alumni currently playing professionally. Below, some updates
-Jeff Aubry ('99) (Halcones Rojos, LNBP Mexico premier league/Indios de Mayaguez, BSN Puerto Rico premier league)-A 6'11" center, Aubry splits his time in both the Mexican and Puerto Rican professional leagues. A well traveled pro player, Aubry spent several seasons in the NBA D League in the early part of his career with the Fayetteville Patriots and Florida Flame and earned honorable mention all NBA D League in 2002. Aubry joins Jeff Foote (Cornell '10) (Springfield Armor), Ryan Wittman (Cornell '10) (Ft. Wayne Mad Ants) and Cody Toppert (Cornell '05) (Albuquerque Thunderbirds) as Cornell veterans of the NBA D-League.  (Cornell's four NBA D-League veterans is the most in Ivy League.)  During his more than a decade of pro experience, Aubry also played professionally in  the ABA (Miami Tropics) and abroad  in Puerto Rico (Mayaguez, Arecibo Capitanes, Leones de Ponce, and Santurce, BSN Puerto Rico), Spain (Tarragona, LEB Gold Spain 2nd Division), Mexico (Halcones Rojos and Chihuahua Dorados, LNBP Mexico premier league), Poland (Slask Wroclaw, PLK Poland premier league), Argentina (Libertad Sunchales, Liga A Argentina), Uruguay (Hebraica, LUB Uruguay) and Peru (Alas Peruanas, Peru).
-Alex Tyler ('10) (Rockville Victors, Atlantic Coast Professional Basketball League)-Tyler finished his rookie season during 2012-2013 with the Victors.
-Louis Dale ('10) (KAOD Dramas, Greece A1 premier league)-Dale spent his  first two professional seasons both in Germany's BBK Bundesliga, the country's premier league with Goettingen.  His third pro season during 2012-2013 was in Greece in the A1, country's premier league, with KAOD Dramas.                                         
-Jeff Foote ('10) (Springfield Armor, NBA D-League)-Foote is playing the 2013-2014 season with the Springfield Armor of the NBA D-League.  Foote spent the 2012-2013 season with Zalgiris of Lithuania, one of Europe's top 10 teams and was named an All Star in the domestic LKL league, the country's premier league.  He also participated with the team in the EuroLeague.  Prior to the start of the 2012-2013 season, Foote played with the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA Summer League and participated in the team's free agent mini-camp.  During 2011-2012, Foote averaged 15.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in the NBA D-League for the Springfield Armor (the Brooklyn Nets' affiliate) after being named a starter at the D-League's All-Star Game during February and was named Second Team All NBA D-LeagueFoote finished the D-League season ranked 4th in double-doubles and also 4th in rebounds. Foote averaged 1.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game in 4 games for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets during a 10-day contract between March 9 and March 19. Foote was ranked by the D-League as its #6 overall NBA prospect.  During April 2012 he was profiled in a video on  He participated in the Portland Trailblazers' 2011-2012 preseason training camp and played the 2011-2012 preseason with with Zastal of       the PLK Poland premier league and the full 2010-2011 season in Spain (Melilla, LEB Gold Spain 2nd division) while on loan from Euro League powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel's premier league.    
Drew Ferry ('12) (Albacete, Spain EBA)-The 2013-2014 season is Ferry's rookie year in the Spanish league.
  • Below is a directory listing of some Twitter feeds associated with the Cornell basketball program.
-Josh Wexler ('88)
-Rich Medina ('92)
-Bo Buttenback ('98)
-Dan Wendt ('98)
-Brian Williamson ('03)
-Jacques Vigneault ('03)
-Cody Toppert ('05)
-Steve Cobb ('05)
-Ryan Rourke ('06)
-Andrew Naeve ('07)
-Jason Canady ('08)
-Khaliq Gant ('09)
-Conor Mullen ('09)
-Brian Kreefer ('09)
-Ryan Wittman ('10)
-Pete Reynolds ('10)
-Louis Dale ('10)
-Alex Tyler ('10)
-Geoff Reeves ('10)
-Jeff Foote ('10)
-Andre Wilkins ('10) (inactive)
-Aaron Osgood ('11)
-Adam Wire ('11)
-Max Groebe ('12)
-Chris Wroblewski ('12)
-Andrew Ferry ('12)
-Jonathan Gray ('13)
-Miles Asafo Adjei ('13)
-Peter McMillan ('13)
-Errick Peck ('13)
-Errick Peck ('13)
-Josh Figini ('13)
-Manny Sahota (former player)
-Galal Cancer (former player)
-Holt Harmon (former player)
-The Cornell Rebounders Club
-Ned Tomic ()
-Dominick Scelfo ()
-Jake Mathews ()
-Dwight Tarwater ()
-Dave LaMore ()
-Shonn Miller ()
-Devin Cherry ()
-Nolan Cressler ()
-Braxston Bunce ()
-Robert Mischler ()
-David Onuorah ()
-Robert Hatter ()
-Desmond Fleming ()
-Darryl Smith ()
-Riley Glassmann (recruit)
-Jordan Abdur Ra-oof (recruit)
-Pat Smith (recruit)
-William Bathurst (recruit)
-Jeremy Hartigan, Cornell SID ()
-Assistant Coach Jon Jaques ('10)
-Assistant Coach Mike Blaine ()
-Assistant Coach Marlon Sears ()
-Brian Delaney, ESPN Radio Ithaca ()
-Barry Leonard, Cornell Redcast/Play-By-Play Annnouncer
-Ed Boulat, Ithaca Journal
-Cornell Daily Sun Sports ()
-Slope Sports ()
-WVBR Sports
-Former assistant coach, Jay Larranaga
-Former assistant coach, Ricky Yahn ()
-Former head coach, Steve Donahue ()
-Former intern assistant Ryan Woerner ()
-Former assistant coach, Zach Spiker ()
-Former assistant coach, Nat Graham ()
-Former assistant coach, Woody Kampmann ()
-Former assistant coach, Izzi Metz ()
-Former assistant coach, Paul Fortier ()
-Former assistant coach Arlen Galloway ()
Blueprint for Success, the yearbook commemorating Cornell's memorable 2009-2010 season is on sale. Visit the Cornell Athletics website to order your copy today! Or pick up a copy sold in the Cornell Store on campus.

Fans of the basketball program in the Ithaca area should not miss the opportunity to join the Cornell Rebounders Club.


Anonymous said...

Can you really say that the loss of Cancer and Peck was "unexpected"? Galal( supposedly) quit the team toward th eend of last year. And they "knew" that Peck would not get a 5th year of eligibility under Ivy league rules.

PErhaps Shonn's slow healing was a surprise, butteh other two?

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can say the loss of Galal and Errick were "unexpected." Cancer (supposedly) quit teh team late last season. And they knew that Peck would not have a post-graduate year of eligibility uinder Ivy rules. Perhaps Shonn's slow healing was a surprise; but not the other two.

Anonymous said...

was the loss of Cancer and Peck really "unexpected"? Galal (supposedly) quit the team late last season. And they "knew" Errick would not have eligibility as a graduate student under Ivy league rules. Miller's slow healing may not have been expected; but the other two??

Anonymous said...

I know you've stated that Bill should be brought back for his 5th year and I agree with that. But....

If there was a coaching change. What type of time table are we looking at? I'm assuming the coach will do end of the season reviews with the AD and then a decision would be made. Would this be done a week after the season? 2 weeks etc?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Let me clean up some substantial misinformation posted above.

(1) Cancer was unexpected. He quit with 4 games left in the season and after the recruiting class was assembled. Cornell was not prepared with advance notice to fill his roster spot.

(2) Peck's decision did not come down until February. Again, after the recruiting cycle ended. It was a surprise for all involved.

If Bill were to leave Cornell by a termination, I would suspect that a decision would be made before April 1st and not after.

Anonymous said...

A strong argument can be made that it is this coaching staff, not just Bill, that has been full party to this mess. While BC is a reasonable guy and an OK recruiter, his actual knowledge of how to teach the skills that underlie the game of D-1 basketball, organize conditioning and practice, and manage the actual playing of games, has been demonstrated to be dismal.

Whether the current assistants are simply incapable, or Bill has micro-managed them into failure, will never be known. A fresh team is surely one potential solution.

What are the chances that Bill would be asked to replace Marlin Sears and Mike Blaine as a condition of retaining his job?

The idea would be to ask Bill to hire one asst who really knows how to coach offensive and (particularly!) defensive schemes and a second asst who knows how to organize both practices and a conditioning program that reduce the injury rate. One of them could conceivabaly actually be JJ.

This scenario occurs quietly several times per season across the country with big-time and small-time programs in our situation. If the HC will not clean house in a positive fashion, he must resign.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Bill has all the leverage. No matter what Cornell threatens, Bill's getting his money next year.

Anonymous said...

Who is "JJ"?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

"Jon Jaques"

Anonymous said...

Yeah, BC is going to get his money no matter what but who the heck wants to be fired from the IVY LEAGUE with an ending record of 1.25 wins (Oberlin was only 1/4 of a win doesn't count as a full win)

He would be hard pressed to find another D1 Head Coaching position.

It could be true that the problems lie with the assistant coaches, at least the top assistant.

I am just waiting to see if all of the players return next year and don't give me that great education crap when they have not won a collective 20 games the past two seasons for whatever reason.