Saturday, November 29, 2014

News and Notes: Saturday Edition

Below, news and notes...

Black Friday is about getting all the deals and steals from the weekend at the stores. This relates to the Binghamton men's basketball team because they are trying to steal a win from Cornell tomorrow at the events center.
The Big Red come to town for a game at 2 pm tomorrow.
The Bearcats haven't won a game since November 19th against D-3 Hartwick College and sit at 1-5 in the standings.
Last year, BU beat Cornell 89-79 for their first win of the season and that helped them going in the right direction.
The team had 3 days off to practice and work out all the kinks as tomorrow will be another test against a very good Ivy league team.
"That was one of the most significant games last season and that's when we really rallied and became a team. I would say that same thing this year. We really need that to happen this season. We have had a rocky start so far but we had a players only team meeting a couple of days ago and we addressed a lot of things and we are really excited about playing tomorrow," said Sophomore Nick Madray.
Tomorrow will be the first time Binghamton plays without Jordan Reed on the roster.
You don't expect any college basketball team to face a turning point in the third week of the regular season, yet that's where the Binghamton University men's team stands.
For better or worse, the week of Thanksgiving will be the line of demarcation for this season, and likely for the program going forward under coach Tommy Dempsey.
How the team responds to Jordan Reed's leave of absence will be crucial to the program's rebuilding effort. Binghamton (1-5) will play its first game without Reed at 2 o'clock on Saturday afternoon in the Events Center against Cornell University (3-4).
Dempsey, in his third season, declined to elaborate on what led to the school announcing on Wednesday afternoon that Reed had stepped away from the program "indefinitely."
"We released a statement," Dempsey said Friday. "That's kind of where we are right now. We really have to focus on getting ready for tomorrow's game and eliminating the distractions that we've had."
With Reed's future uncertain, the Bearcats now have a roster with their core made up of sophomores and freshmen.
The sophomores who were thrown in the fire last season like Nick Madray, Yosef Yacob, Marlon Beck and Magnus Richards now have to set the tone. It sounds as if they have already recognized the importance of pulling the team together.
When asked on Friday about what stood out from last season's game against Cornell, Madray offered an interesting response.
"That was one of the most significant games last season," Madray said. "That's when we really rallied, and that's when we became a team. I would say the same thing this year. We really need that to happen this season.
"We've had a rocky start so far, but we had a players-only team meeting a couple days ago. We addressed a lot of things that went on, and we're really excited about playing Cornell."
Without giving all the details, Madray said the players all had a chance to speak their minds and came away resolved to spend more time together as an entire team, whereas separate cliques had started to form. Now that things have been "aired out," the team will either come closer together or pull further apart.
The pessimistic view leads to a scenario of doom and gloom. In that case, you would consider Reed as the first shoe to drop. Next, the struggled continue on the court for a team still featuring a lot of inexperienced players. Minimal progress by the end of the season leads some of the talented players brought in to question this rebuilding process, change paths, and leave the program.
After all, Mark Macon started a rebuilding process and then it fell apart quickly when continued struggles led the players who were considered program building blocks to go elsewhere.
On the optimistic side, the players continue to improve together and enjoy success later in the season. Not only do they hold their own against America East Conference teams, but they really start to grow into a fast-paced, full-court pressing team and thrive on the court.
You'd also hope the players become an even more tightly-knit group instead of letting whatever fractures currently exist grow. Leaders emerge from this current core that will remain together for the following two seasons. Pretty soon the players police things on and off the court.
No more missed shootarounds. No more butting heads with coaches. They simply play for each other.
Where this season and the future of the program goes from here will depend on how the players respond.
If you're a Binghamton fan, then the content of the players-only meeting is far less important than the result. Three of the next four games will be at home in the Events Center, so we'll all be looking closely at those results.
Cornell University (3-4) vs. Binghamton University (1-5) in a men's college basketball game.
When: 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon in the Events Center, Vestal.
Tickets: Chairback Admission $13, general admission $8, wheelchair accessible $8, wheelchair companion $8.
Series history: Cornell leads 6-3.
Last meeting: Binghamton won, 89-79, on Nov. 13 in Ithaca.
Scouting Cornell: The Big Red needed just less than one month to surpass its win total from the entire 2013-14 season (2-26). ... The return of senior forward Shonn Miller has bolstered the team this season. The 6-foot-7 210-pound former First-team All-Ivy League selection missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. Through the first seven games of this season he leads the team with averages of 13.6 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game. He also had a team-high 13 blocked shots. ... Senior guard Galal Cancer, an Albany resident who also did not play last season, has averaged 12.9 points per game, shot 38 percent from behind the 3-point arc, and he has recorded a team-best 10 steals.
Scouting Binghamton: Freshman forward Willie Rodriguez has averaged team-bests in scoring (12 points per game) and rebounding (5.5 rebounds per game) though six games. In his past three games, he has averaged 19.3 points a 8.3 rebounds. ... Freshman forward Dusan Perovic has averaged 10.3 points per game, and he has shot 51 percent from the floor and 73 percent (8-for-11) on 3-pointers. ... Sophomore guard Marlon Beck scored a career-high 27 points against Cornell last season in Ithaca. He scored 19 second-half points to help the Bearcats rally after trailing by as many as 19 points in the second half. ... Sophomore forward Magnus Richards' status for Saturday was uncertain on Friday afternoon. He injured his shoulder in practice.
The Binghamton Bearcats host the Cornell Big Red at the Events Center Saturday afternoon at 2PM with air at 1:45 on News Radio 1290 WNBF. Binghamton comes into the game with a record of 1-5 while Cornell is 3-4 and is coming off a 67-60 win over Canisius on Wednesday. The Bearcats lost at Army on Tuesday night 80-54.

In 10 meetings between the two teams Cornell has the edge 7-3. At Cornell last season the Bearcats came away with an 89-79 come from behind decision. Shonn Miller has returned for his senior season following a shoulder injury suffered early last year. The 6′ 7″ forward can sky and going into the week he was averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds per game.

Binghamton has seen the emergence of freshman Willie Rodriguez into a solid scorer. He hit for 20 points and added 10 rebounds in the loss to Army.

The Bearcats will be without one of the America East Conference’s premier players. Jordan Reed, who has seen limited playing time so far this season, has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the team for personal reasons.
Just over five years ago, Zach Spiker took a position both deeply respected and unenviable, simultaneously joining the lineage of Hall of Fame coaches given the unique opportunity to coach at Army, while also taking over a team without a winning season in a quarter-century.
Coming southeast after a successful stint as an assistant at Cornell, Spiker had received his first head coaching job, and like any person in any new position, was uncertain what was to come.
But less than a week into his tenure, the 33-year-old received a visit from a coach whose career began before he was born, a coach with more advice and insight than could fit into a visit — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, a West Point graduate and Army’s coach from 1975-80.
“He was on campus and we just sat and talked for awhile,” Spiker said. “He’s been very supportive and he’s been very, very open and willing to share his time. He’s been terrific.”
Despite their demanding schedules, the coaches have developed a friendship, communicating a few times during the season, via text or phone, with the NCAA’s all-time winningest coach still coming back to West Point at least once each year...

  • Today at 2 pm, Kevin App (Cornell '07), now head coach of Williams College, will face Skidmore and Joe Burke, a former Cornell assistant coach on App's '03-'04 Steve Donahue-led Cornell team.
  • Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports writes, "The Atlantic 10 is a really good basketball conference but the middle and bottom of the league has to do better. We've already seen St. Joseph's lose to FDU and Western Kentucky, George Mason fall to Cornell, Fordham go down against UMass-Lowell, and Saint Louis drop a close one at home against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. That's not good for a league that's trying to build off having six teams in the NCAA Tournaments last March."

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