Thursday, March 13, 2014

News and Notes: Thursday Edition

Below, news and notes for Thursday...

  • Harvard alum, Mike James recaps the Ivy season for Rush The Court and ranked Cornell last in the Ivy.  He writes:
    Cornell (2-26, 1-13) – The defense wasn’t just awful, it was consistently awful. The Big Red failed to hold any of its 27 Division I opponents to under a point per possession all season, en route to setting an Ivy record for the worst defensive efficiency rating by a whopping 10 points per 100 possessions. Shonn Miller returns next year to provide some help in that department, but the Big Red is more than just one player away from being remotely competent on that end.
I am guessing that a coach would love to be able to say that when a program is in a groove, it is purely the result of his or her brains and savvy, and that luck has nothing to do with it. In 25 years of interviews, I have yet to encounter a coach who displayed that level of narcissism, and most are pleased to tell me how lucky they are. Steve Donahue, for example, had worked very hard to build Cornell’s basketball program, and in 2007, he had almost all the pieces of the puzzle. Then, as luck would have it, a guy named Jeff Foote, unhappy at St. Bonaventure, decided to transfer to Cornell. The fact that he was a local kid with a passion to improve made it a sweet story, but the fact Foote was a 7-footer who would become a dominant player was a Sweet 16 story.
BC head coach Steve Donahue now faces a tough offseason on the hot seat. He was very successful at Cornell building up the program to its climax in his final year when they won 29 games. In his 4 seasons in Chestnut Hill, he has won 21, 9, 16, and 8 games. To make matters worse, he has no incoming commitments in the class of 2014 and there are rumors that star player, Olivier Hanlan may make the jump to the NBA. It's not a sure thing, but I wouldn't be completely shocked if he is gone within the week.
Cressler An Honorable Mention Pick On All-Ivy Basketball Squad

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cornell sophomore guard Nolan Cressler has been named honorable mention All-Ivy League it was announced Wednesday afternoon by the league office after a vote by the league's eight men's basketball coaches. It is Cressler's first conference honor.

Cressler led the team in scoring (16.8 ppg.), ranking fourth overall in the Ivy League. He also paced the team and ranked third in the Ancient Eight in 3-pointers made (2.4 per game) and was sixth in minutes played (32.6 mpg.). Cressler shot 41 percent from the floor and 36 percent from 3-point range while adding 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per contest. The 6-4 guard from Pittsburgh, Pa. reached fouble figures in scoring 22 times with eight 20-point games, including a career-high 34-point effort in an overtime loss to Brown.

In just two full seasons, Cressler has already accumulated 757 points, 234 rebounds and 122 3-point field goals made (17th all-time at Cornell). His 469 points this past season ranks 14th in a single season at Cornell, while his 68 3-pointers ranked 11th.

Wesley Saunders, Harvard (Jr., G/F - Los Angeles)

Spencer Weisz, Princeton (Fr., F - Florham Park, N.J.)

Cedric Kuakumensah, Brown (So., F - Worcester, Mass.)

Sean McGonagill, Brown (Sr., G - Brookfield, Ill.)
Alex Rosenberg, Columbia (Jr., F - Short Hills, N.J.)
*Wesley Saunders, Harvard (Jr., G/F - Los Angeles)
*T.J. Bray, Princeton (Sr., G - New Berlin, Wis.)
Justin Sears, Yale (So., F - Plainfield, N.J.)

Maodo Lo, Columbia (So., G - Berlin)
Siyani Chambers, Harvard (So., G - Golden Valley, Minn.)
Steve Moundou-Missi, Harvard (Jr., F - Yaounde, Cameroon)
Laurent Rivard, Harvard (Sr., G - Saint-Bruno, Quebec, Canada)
Fran Dougherty, Penn (Sr., F - New Britain, Pa.)

Cedric Kuakumensah, Brown (So., F - Worcester, Mass.)
Nolan Cressler, Cornell (So., G - Pittsburgh)
Brandyn Curry, Harvard (Sr., G - Huntersville, N.C.)
Kyle Casey, Harvard (Sr., F - Medway, Mass.)
Javier Duren, Yale (Jr., G - St. Louis)

*Unanimous Selection
  • The Ivy League noted on the All Ivy awards that "[Cedric] Kuakumensah (Worcester, Mass.) picked up where he left off last year as the League's top defensive presence. He joins Cornell's Jeff Foote (2008-09 and 2009-10) as the only players to be named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons." 
  • 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 13, 2014 is No. 334 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. 332. Both sites are predominantly used by fans and the media.
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Runningpie said...

Always appreciate Mike James' realistic appraisals of Cornell basketball. From the outside looking in keeps him from clouding his vision with rosy views of the future.

Cornell's season was historically bad, and the post-season awards (or lack thereof), and scuttlebutt should reflect that.

Our coach was supposed to be a master recruiter, but his classes are no more impressive, if not less so, than any other Ivy. And of course, at this point, his game strategy is unquestioned (and I don't mean good).

As things recede in the rear-view mirror, people have a tendency to think it wasn't really that bad. Yes, it was really that bad.

Anonymous said...

Runningpie: couldn't have said it any better myself.

Almost everyone sees the massive problems with this program.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Boston College fans are out of control as are Cornell fans. Clueless together walking through the darkness...

Anonymous said...

CornellBasketballBlog is clearly a sycophant of the program who wants to keep whatever little "insider" status that he has. That's why he can't see what is abundantly clear to everyone else: that the Courtney era has been an unequivocal disaster, and it is time to cut ties and move on.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

CBB will have "insider status" regardless of who coaches because the network of information comes from multiple sources, not just coaches.

And nobody knows just who CBB speaks with because CBB does not share or identify all of its sources.

CBB supports Bill Courtney because CBB believes in Bill Courtney.

br2 said...

CBB, it's cool. We're all literally allowed to believe what we want to believe. And, the fact that you stand true to it in the face of all this criticism says something positive about your beliefs. So, respect on that front.

However, BC has been horrible ("turrible"). He was supposed to be known for his defense and we had one of the worst defensive teams in the country. If you try to refute that with its "the players" not him. Well, then what about the point that he was supposed to be a good recruiter. If you try to refute that with he was dealing with Donahue's left overs and needs an entire team of his own - what do you say that the Donahue left overs had better performances than the current team? And if his new recruits are better than the Donahue left over recruits, how is that even possible that the Donahue left overs performed better?

Unless, coaching, player development, and in game coaching all have something to do with it.

The logic doesn't follow that BC is the coach that Cornell needs. He's an assistant coach. He's a TOP assistant coach. But, he's not a head coach - not yet at least.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

It is pretty amazing to rip apart Cornell's defense when the biggest defensive stoppers (Shonn Miller and Deion Giddens) were missing for most of the season (not to mention another big kid, Braxston Bunce who they hoped to mold into the rotation but for the the chronic injuries).

br2 said...

I'll give you Miller for defense. Won't give you Bunce - unproven, a pure theoretical big man for us. And, hesitant to give you Deion, even though I like him a lot. He's about half proven - if he didn't get injured maybe he could have been huge. He'd make us better. But where do we go with them defensively - from 300th ranked to 200th rank ... still not even in top half?

Plus, our three point defense was horrible. How do they even improve that for us? If anything, they'd make teams more likely to shoot from outside instead of going inside. Maybe, the guards could cheat a little with on ball defense, but that's it and could backfire.

Having big men, even good big men, doesn't mean you have good defense. Like everything in basketball it's a team game. They improve one part of defense, but they do not solve gaping holes.

Anonymous said...

Bunce, really? The guy who couldn't get minutes on an undersized and historically bad team? We need a guy with his size for sure. But his recurring health problems dating back to his junior year of high school don't portend well for the future. Big men with chronic knee problems seldom shake them.

Miller, yes. He obviously helps.

We had Giddens for half of this season -- and were ranked last in the country on defense and won zero (0) games.

Anonymous said...

Enough of the 'what the staff had hoped', etc.

Here's the simple facts. We were ranked last or within a couple of spots of last on defense of ALL D1 teams. Regardless of how we got here (injuries, recruits not panning out...) that's were we are.

Miller is an exceptional defensive player. Assuming he is fully healthy, does he take a 325+ ranked defense and get it to top 100? Obviously not.

So the question is more can he help a historically bad defense become an average one? I doubt it, but that's a reasonable question.

This blog continually ripping anyone who does not accept at face value all of the excuses offered for poor results (plausible or not) really diminishes the quality of the interaction here.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Hell yes Miller makes Cornell 100+ spots better. His presence allows other players to defend differently. So, it is not just his ability, but what he allows others to do.

I think Onuorah is more effective a rebounder and defender when he is not alone guarding the paint area.

Just as Alex Tyler and Mark Coury were more effective defenders when paired with Foote.

Anonymous said...


Cornell's DRAT last season with Shonn was 303rd in the country.

This year, as we all unfortunately witnessed, our defense was one spot from the cellar. At least we beat Grambling State.

Shonn helps, but he doesn't fix everything.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

And Shonn played with a different team. He shared the floor with Figini, Eitan, MAA, Gray.

This is a different team/rotation. Smith, Cherry, Onuorah, Cressler, etc.

Anonymous said...

Well, there we have it: CBB thinks Cornell will be more than 100 slots better on defense next year.

I'm skeptical, but I hope CBB is right.