Wednesday, April 16, 2014

News and Notes: Wednesday Edition

Below, news and notes for Wednesday...

  • Former Cornell assistant coach, Nat Graham, is reportedly in the mix to take an assistant coaching position at Penn.
  • Dime Magazine profiles The Tournament and writes, "The same team that ruined all of our brackets during their remarkable 2010 NCAA run looks to make another unforgettable run as the Cornell Sweet Sixteen enter TBT. Cornell will be once again led by former Ivy League Players of the Year Ryan Wittman and Louis Dale, while getting some interior help from 7-0 center Jeff Foote of the NBA D-League."
  • Since Jake Matthews is not eligible to play in the Ivy League next season, he will seek to play in another conference next season as a graduate student.  See ESPN.
Sophomore Nolan Cressler, the leading scorer on a Cornell basketball team that won just twice in 28 games this past season, announced Monday night that he’s transferring to Vanderbilt University.

Cressler, who averaged 16.8 points and 4.2 rebounds this past year for Coach Bill Courtney’s Big Red, announced his intentions on Twitter, saying, “Excited to say that I’m going to Vanderbilt university next year! #AnchorDown.”

The 6-4 guard from Pittsburgh must sit out the upcoming season as per NCAA rules. He will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Commodores.

Cressler ranked fourth overall in Ivy League scoring this year. He paced the Big Red and ranked third in the league in 3-pointers made (2.4 per game) and shot 41 percent from the floor, including 36 percent from 3-point range. Cressler posted eight 20-point games, including a career-high 34-point effort in an overtime loss to Brown and 23 points in a season-opening 82-60 loss at Syracuse.

Cressler, who averaged 9.3 points as a freshman, amassed 757 points, 234 rebounds and 122 made 3-pointers in his two seasons on East Hill. He was an honorable mention All-Ivy League selection this year, the only player from Cornell to earn postseason recognition from the league.

According to web reports, Cressler had offers from Vanderbilt, Dayton and Butler after he had been granted his release from Cornell two weeks ago. Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Michigan were among others who expressed interest later in the process before he decided to head to Nashville.

Cornell lost its final six games of the 2012-13 season and opened this year by losing another 13 straight before defeating Division III Oberlin College, 77-55, on Jan. 11 at Newman Arena. Cornell’s only other win came over Ivy foe Dartmouth, 70-67, on Feb. 14 at Newman.

Courtney dealt with three significant losses heading into this past season, all who, like Cressler, were expected to return to the team. Shonn Miller, the 2011-12 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, suffered a shoulder injury late in his sophomore season and missed the entire ’13-14 campaign; 6-6 senior Errick Peck, who had a year of eligibility left, transferred to Purdue; and junior Galal Cancer left the team for personal reasons.
Izzi Metz  has seen the game of basketball through a variety of  lenses. He’s had the chance to experience college basketball at the highest level in one of the sports most powerful conferences.
Now, Metz gets the chance to bring those experiences and implement his vision at Wilkes University.
Metz was introduced as the new Wilkes men’s basketball coach at a news conference on Tuesday at the Marts Center. He takes over for Jerry Rickrode, who stepped down in February after 22 seasons to take a job within the university’s Advancement Division as a major gifts officer.
A 1998 graduate of Hobart, Metz started his coaching career at Bishop Montgomery, near his hometown of Los Angeles. He was an assistant coach at Hobart in the 2000-01 season, then became an assistant at Cornell from 2001-06.
Metz returned to Hobart as the head coach in 2006 before spending the last three seasons as an assistant coach with Boston College in the ACC.
Metz wants to incorporate an up-tempo style on both ends of the floor at Wilkes.
“I think basketball is basketball. Here it just might mean guys are a little bit shorter, but bring something different to the table,” Metz said. “I coached at Division III for five years. I have always loved this level. I was a student-athlete at this level. A lot of the things I learned at Boston College I can bring to the table.”
Metz wanted to become a head coach again and that process was expedited when his mentor, Steve Donahue, was fired at Boston College shortly after the Eagles were eliminated from the ACC tournament. Metz coached under Donahue at Cornell and Boston College.
“I really loved my five years as the head coach,” Metz said. “Obviously, we lost our jobs at Boston College and I told the (Wilkes) search committee this enables me to not leave Boston College with unfinished business.
I guess as a coach that is the nature of the beast. In the ACC it is ultra-competitive and they expect you to win at a high level. Unfortunately what happened, happened. We have great coaches from the Boston College staff. In one capacity or another they will all land in a great situation.”
Metz’s preference for an up-tempo style developed during his time at Cornell. He ran some of the same things he learned from his time at Cornell at Hobart and only added to it during his three years at Boston College.
“You have to be in great shape and in great condition to play this style,” Metz said. “You have to be committed to playing this way. As a coach you relinquish some control and rely on the instincts of the players. You have to trust your players more. You are not going to be able to control every possession.”
With the school year coming to an end next month, Metz plans to hit the ground running in order to familiarize himself with the players coming back and the recruiting class coming in. He plans to honor the recruits who have already committed to Wilkes, but at the same time, did not close the door on a potential addition or two provided it is the right fit both academically and athletically.
Metz also wants to reach out to the high school coaches in the area and establish relationships for not just potential recruits, but with those coaches who have players set to begin attending Wilkes in the fall.
“I’m going to scour video tape and talk to their high school coaches,” Metz said of how he plans to analyze the returning players. “I am going to familiarize myself with who they are as basketball players. I’m going to put them in position to be successful. We are not implementing this system just to do it. I want to make sure these guys win now. Ideally, hopefully we can continue to recruit guys that fit that style.”
According to The Citizen's Voice Newspaper, former Boston College assistant coach Izzi Metz will be named the next men's basketball coach at Division III Wilkes University, a small private school located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Wilkes has scheduled a news conference today at 3 p.m. to make the announcement.
Metz comes to Wilkes from Boston College, where he served as the Director of Basketball Operations during his first two seasons on the Heights before being elevated to assistant coach last season. Prior to joining the Eagles staff in 2011-12, Metz served five seasons as the head coach at Hobart College and five as Donahue's assistant at Cornell.
A 1998 graduate of Hobart, Metz got his collegiate coaching start as his alma mater, serving as an assistant coach for one season (2000-01) before joining Donahue at Cornell.
Metz replaces Jerry Rickrode, who stepped down after coaching the Colonels for 22 years. Rickrode compiled a 328-191 record at Wilkes, including a Division III Final Four during the 1997-98 season. The Colonels limped to an 8-16 finish (3-18 in the Freedom Conference) in 2013-14.
Obviously things didn't work out for Metz at Boston College, but it's good to see former Eagle staffers land on their feet elsewhere. Here's to wishing Metz nothing but success at his next coaching stop.


Anonymous said...

I know Nat Graham is a Penn alum but man it blows if he ends up an assistant there! He was the person I hoped would take over from Donahue four years ago… I remember Jon Jaques mentioning he hoped Graham would replace Donahue. Now on top of us ending up with a lousy coach, Graham might end up at Penn… that blows.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Nat is an alum of Penn and they have a vacancy. Cornell does not. And he needs a job for his family.

All of the above said, this could be a 1-year stop for him. Jerome Allen is in the last year of his contract and it is unlikely the new AD will extend him a new contract.

Anonymous said...

I'm really looking forward to Bill Courtney coming back for his 5th season! I know we're months away and you're like 'For real internet commenter?'. So, maybe I'm a bit premature with these feelings.

And, I know that for many of us now that the season is over, we will go back to doing what we're successful at. And, in a few months from now we'll be doing an adequate jobs in our lives and wonder 'What's it like to be real crappy at what you do?'

But, luckily, then college basketball season will start and we'll get to have Bill Courtney remind us. And, all will be right in the world. Because if that man can't be fired, the rest of us are golden.