Saturday, January 3, 2015

News and Notes: Saturday Edition

  • Cornell is "the Surprise Team" of the Ivy League according to Ivy Hoops Online which writes:
Sure it was close. Dartmouth own the better record at 6-6, but Cornell sits at 6-7, after going 2-26 last year.
Who expected wins over George Mason, Canisius and Siena, a close call with Penn State and a semi-competitive battle with national power Syracuse?
Many considered that last season would be the last for coach Bill Courtney, but the athletic director saw some fire in the fifth-year head coach, recognized that Cornell had some key injuries last season and gave him another season to right the ship. And right it he has.

Cornell has rode the fine play of junior forward Shonn Miller all season. He is averaging 16.5 points per game, is second in the league behind Yale’s Justin Sears in rebounding and is one of the leaders in blocked shots.
Is Cornell a postseason team? No. But they can be competitive in all home games and steal a few on the road. That is more than any Cornell follower could have asked for heading into this season. And probably enough to keep Courtney at the helm even longer.
Cornell men look to get back to .500 mark at Buffalo

After being held to a season-low 44 points in a New Year's Eve loss at Syracuse, the Cornell men's basketball team will look to get back to the .500 mark on Saturday afternoon when it heads west to face Buffalo.
Tip-off at Alumni Arena is slated for 3 p.m. Cornell (6-7) has two more non-conference games after Saturday before diving into the "14-game tournament" — otherwise known as the Ivy League schedule — in two weeks.
The Bulls (8-3) have won four of their last five, including Tuesday's 76-50 defeat of Binghamton in Vestal. Sophomore guard Shannon Evans posted the first triple-double in Buffalo program history, with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Coach Bill Courtney's Red came out of the gate ice-cold in losing to the Orange (9-4) for the 34th consecutive time since a 93-81 Big Red victory on Dec. 4, 1968, in Barton Hall. After making just one of its first 16 shots on Wednesday, Cornell warmed up slightly after intermission but couldn't make up a deficit that reached 23 points midway through the second half of a 61-44 SU victory.
Against the athletic Orange's trademark 2-3 zone, Cornell shot 20 percent in the first half (5-for-25) and scored just two points in the first 14 minutes. The Red finished 19-of-55 from the floor (34.5 pct.), including 4-of-22 from 3-point range, and went just 2-of-5 from the foul line as SU's defense forced Cornell to shoot mainly from the perimeter.
Senior forward Shonn Miller (16.5 ppg.) scored 12 points and pulled down five rebounds to lead the Red, while sophomore guard JoJo Fallas came off the bench to add 11 points, equalling a career high, and chipped in four rebounds, three steals and two assists in 26 minutes of action. Reserve forward Deion Giddens added six points and three rebounds in seven minutes, including a putback slam dunk in the closing minutes.
Six-foot-9 senior Rakeem Christmas had his way on the inside against the smaller Red and wound up with game highs of 19 points and nine rebounds.
The Bulls, guided by second-year coach Bobby Hurley — the former Duke star point guard and veteran of five NBA seasons — are led by 6-7 junior forward Justin Moss (16.9 ppg., 9.9 rpg.) and Evans (14.5 ppg.5.5 apg.), along with junior guard Jarryn Skeete (10.9 ppg.). UB's lone loss over its last five games was a 68-56 defeat at sixth-ranked Wisconsin on Sunday in Madison, Wis.; the Bulls led 27-26 at halftime but fell victim to a Badgers 14-0 run midway through the second half.
Buffalo's only other losses came to top-ranked Kentucky (71-52 on Nov. 16) and to St. Bonaventure (72-63 on Dec. 3). The Bulls are averaging 71.3 points a game and shooting 42 percent from the floor while turning the ball over 13.1 times per game. Cornell is shooting 40.2 percent and committing 15 turnovers per game.
Cornell is 27-15 all-time against the Bulls, though the Red has lost the last two meetings with Buffalo. The teams haven't played since the 2011-12 season, when UB scored a 68-59 win at Alumni Arena; Cornell's last victory in the series came in the 2002-03 season opener, 78-72, in Buffalo.
After Saturday's game, Cornell plays its next three at Newman Arena, including Thursday's 7 p.m. clash with Howard and next Saturday's 2 p.m. matinee against Division III Alfred State. The Ivy campaign starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, against visiting Columbia (7-5).

Cornell men's basketball
Saturday's game: Cornell (6-7) at Buffalo (8-3)
When: 3 p.m.
Where: Alumni Arena (6,100), Buffalo
Radio: The Buzzer (98.7)
Next game: Thursday vs. Howard (7-8), 7 p.m., Newman Arena
  • Hustle Belt writes, "Battle for Western New York: Buffalo and Cornell square off on Saturday in Alumni Arena, and while Cornell isn't exactly located in Western New York it's close enough to fit the narrative. The Big Red are doing just a tad bit better than last year's 2-26 campaign - they've improved 300% to six wins and seven losses. Penn State needed a buzzer beater to knock them off in the Charleston Classic and they've also beaten a solid Canisius squad. The Bulls are rolling but can't afford to slip up right before conference play starts."
  • The Buffalo News notes, "On the men’s side, the Bulls will be shooting for their ninth win in 12 starts in a 3 p.m. (or so) game against Cornell (Radio 1520 AM). The Bulls have won four of their last five as junior forward Justin Moss nears a double-double average in points (16.9) and rebounds (9.9). The Big Red (6-7) has a significant low-post presence in 6-7 senior Shonn Miller (16.5, 8.2)."
 Men's Hoops Opens New Year At Buffalo on Saturday
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Game #14: Cornell at Buffalo
Tip off: Saturday, Jan. 3, at 3:00 p.m.
Site: Alumni Arena (6,100), Buffalo, N.Y.
2014-15 Records: Cornell (6-7, 0-0 Ivy); Buffalo (8-3, 0-0 MAC)
Series Record: Cornell leads 27-15
Last Meeting: Buffalo won 68-59, Nov. 16, 2011 in Buffalo, N.Y.
Radio: 98.7 FM The Buzzer (Barry Leonard, Eric Taylor '05)
TV: ESPN3 (Paul Peck, Kevin Sylvester)

Cornell head coach Bill Courtney is in his fifth season at Cornell (43-85, .336; 19-37 Ivy, .339) ... Courtney became the fifth Robert E. Gallagher '44 Coach of Men's Basketball at Cornell on April 23, 2010.

With a new year comes preparations for the Ivy League's 14-game tournament, and the Cornell men's basketball team will open the 2015 calendar year at Buffalo on Saturday, Jan. 3 at 3 p.m. at Alumni Arena. The game will be televised on ESPN3 with Paul Peck and Kevin Sylvester on the call, while Barry Leonard and Eric Taylor '05 will provide coverage on 98.7 FM The Buzzer and the Ivy League Digital Network.

Head coach Bill Courtney's team is already one of the most improved in the country, already tripling its win total from a year ago (2-26) en route to its 6-6 start. It has sextupled its win total from a year ago against Division I teams and has the looks of a team on the rebound, playing suffocating defense (.380 field goal percentage defense, .317 3-point percentage defense, 62.7 ppg. allowed, 4.5 blocked shots per game) in its 13 contests. The Big Red has limited foes to under 40 percent shooting in nine of its 13 games. Four of its seven losses have come by five points or less or in overtime.

The biggest difference from last year is the return of first-team All-Ivy selection Shonn Miller, who missed the 2013-14 season with a shoulder injury. The 6-7 forward returned with a bang, recording 21 points and 13 rebounds in the upset of George Mason and has been especially dominant over his last four games, averaging 22.5 points and 10.0 rebounds with a career scoring high of 28 points at Radford and a best of 15 rebounds at Siena. The two-time Ivy League Player of the Week has season averages of 16.5 ppg., 8.2 rpg., 1.8 bpg. and 1.2 spg. to make him an early contender for top Ivy League honors.

Other big differences in Cornell's quick turnaround include the return of senior Galal Cancer (9.5 ppg., 3.6 rpg., 3.4 apg., 1.2 spg.) after a year away from basketball, the move of senior Devin Cherry to point guard (9.1 ppg., 4.9 rpg., 3.4 apg., 1.0 spg.) and the maturation of sophomores Robert Hatter (12.2 ppg., 2.7 rpg., 1.2 spg.) and David Onuorah (2.5 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 1.3 bpg.). A number of other players have added key minutes as reserves over the first 13 contests. Among them are sophomore guards JoJo Fallas, who has become one of the conference's most dangerous shooters off the bench (seventh in Ivy League in 3-point percentage, .400 - 4.1 ppg.), and Darryl Smith (3.4 pg., 1.8 rpg.). Together with the starting trio, the five make for one of the most talented and deepest backcourts in the Ancient Eight. The senior big man trio of Deion Giddens, Dave LaMore and Ned Tomic are combining to average 4.5 ppg. and 4.9 rpg. and have provided leadership on and off the court.

• give the Big Red a 7-7 record.
• snap a two-game losing skid.
• make Cornell 4-3 in true road games a season after going 0-15.
• improve Cornell's lead in the all-time series to 28-15.
• be the 1,218th in program history (1,217-1,359 in 116 seasons, .472).

• Buffalo is off to an 8-3 start and is a perfect 3-0 on the year at home with wins over South Dakota State, Drexel and Niagara.
• Two of the losses have come to top five teams, at Kentucky (71-52) and at Wisconsin (68-56). Buffalo actually led the top ranked and unbeaten Wildcats at the half, 38-33.
• Justin Moss paces the Bulls with 16.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the floor. He gets to the line better than six times per game.
• Both Shannon Evans (14.5 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 5.4 apg., 1.6 spg.) and Jarryn Skeete (10.9 ppg., 3.9 rpg.) also are in double figures, with Lamonte Bearden not far behind (8.9 ppg.).
• Buffalo is limiting opponents to below 40 percent shooting overall (.395) and 30 percent from the free-throw line (.288).
• The Bulls are outrebounding opponents by 2.7 per game (39.4-36.7).
• Second year head coach Bobby Hurley has an impressive 27-13 record since taking over the UB program. The former Duke All-American competed in three Final Fours as a player and holds the NCAA assist record (1,076).

• Cornell leads 27-15 in a series that dates back to the 1918-19 season.
• Buffalo is 4-2 in the last six meetings.
• The Bulls won the last meeting 68-59 on Nov. 16, 2011 at Alumni Arena.

• Cornell is 32-33 all-time against current members of the Mid-American Conference, including 27-15 against Buffalo.
• The Big Red has also played Ball State (0-1), Bowling Green (0-3), Eastern Michigan (1-2), Kent State (0-1), Miami (OH) (1-0), Northern Illinois (0-2), Ohio (1-3), Toledo (1-5) and Western Michigan (1-1).
• Cornell has never played Akron or Central Michigan.
• This is the only scheduled meeting between the Big Red and a member of the MAC in 2014-15.

• After trailing by double figures in the second half, Cornell rallied to tie Buffalo on the road, but the Bulls were able to pull away late and capture a 68-59 victory over the Big Red on Nov. 16, 2011 at Alumni Arena.
• Eitan Chemerinski posted a career scoring high for the second straight contest with 14 points as the lone double figure scorer for Cornell.
• Drew Ferry hit three 3-pointers to give him nine points, while Shonn Miller added eight and Josh Figini and Chris Wroblewski each had seven points.
• Wroblewski added six rebounds and four assists.
• Cornell shot just 38 percent from the field overall and was just 7-of-27 from beyond the arc for 26 percent.
• The Big Red had 14 steals as a team, a total that ranks 14th in a game in Big Red history.
• Javon McCrea had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Mitchell Watt scored 19 points and added nine rebounds to lead the Bulls.
• Zach Filzen added 11 points to round out the three double figure scorers, while Jarod Oldham registered eight points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the victory.

• Cornell's defense limited Syracuse to 16 points in the game's first 16 minutes, but the Orange couldn't solve the vaunted zone in a 61-44 loss on Dec. 31, 2014 at the Carrier Dome.
• The Big Red shot just 20 percent from the floor in the first half and never recovered, scoring just two points in the game's first 14 minutes.
• Senior Shonn Miller had 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals and sophomore JoJo Fallas tied a career high with 11 points and chipped in four rebounds, three steals and two assists in the loss.
• Cornell shot 47 percent from the floor after halftime and prevented Syracuse from running away with the game, but it was too little, too late to pull the upset.
• Senior Deion Giddens hd six points and three rebounds in seven energetic minutes, while classmate Galal Cancer notched three points, six assists and two rebounds.
• Cornell held a 34-33 edge on the glass, including 12-8 on the offensive end that led to a 12-4 advantage in second chance points.
• Syracuse's Rakeem Christmas had 19 points and nine rebounds, while Trevor Cooney noted 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
• Syracuse shot 48 percent from the floor, including 60 percent after the break.

• Cornell's defense has spearheaded the Big Red's turnaround, as its points per game allowed, field goal percentage defense overall and from 3-point range are significantly down, while its steals and blocked shots are way up over last season.
• The Big Red is limiting opponents to .380 shooting over its first 13 games. In all, Cornell recorded a .495 field goal percentage defense mark in 2013-14
• Cornell has allowed opponents to shoot 50 percent or better 15 times in 28 games a season ago, while this year it has held nine of its first 13 opponents under 40 percent shooting and no opponent has hit 50 percent of its shots.

           Scoring Def.    FG% Def.     3pt FG Def.    Steals       Blocks
2013-14    78.4 (331)      .495 (341)   .409 (345)     4.2 (338)    3.5 (267)
2014-15    62.7 (113)      .380 (40)    .317 (120)     6.1 (224)    4.4 (93)

• Cornell has already won four more games than the entire 2013-14 campaign when it went 2-26.  Only seven teams in the country have won more games this season than last year, topped by Cornell's +4. TCU, which is 13-0 after going 9-22 last season, is also at +4 on the year. The other teams are Lamar (+2), Maryland-Eastern Shore (+2), Southern Utah (+1), Sacred Heart (+1) and Temple (+1).
• Over the team's last five games, Cornell is shooting an outstanding .815 from the free-throw line (75-of-92).
• The Big Red has posted two of the top nine free-throw shooting percentage efforts in school history over the first 11 games. Cornell tied a school record with a 13-for-13 effort (one of eight perfect nights with at least 10 attempts) against UMass Lowell and had the best day with a miss in going 21-of-22 for .955 against Penn State. Ironically, Cornell has shot under 50 percent from the free-throw line in two other games this season.
• Cornell's 14-point margin of victory over Binghamton (68-54) was its largest in a road game under head coach Bill Courtney and the most by any Cornell team since a 79-59 victory at Yale on March 6, 2010. That mark didn't last long, as the Big Red dropped Siena by 17 (75-58) in Albany 23 days later.
• Senior Shonn Miller blocked a pair of shots against George Mason to surpass the 100 career block milestone. He became the fifth player in Cornell history to reach that plateau and now has 123 to his name.
• Miller had three steals at Radford, pushing his career total to 101. He became the first player in Cornell history to post 100 career steals and 100 career blocks.
• Miller is averaging 22.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last four contests.
• In his last six contests, senior Galal Cancer is averaging 5.7 assists. He had just 10 total assists in his first seven games.
• The rally from a 17-point deficit against Colgate was the largest overcome by a Big Red team this century. It is the largest overcome by a Bill Courtney-coached team, besting the 14-point first half deficit it rallied from in an 85-84 win over Yale on Feb. 10, 2012.
• When Cornell knocked off George Mason, the Big Red defeated its 35th program that has advanced to an NCAA Final Four. The Patriots reached the national semifinals in 2006.
• The Big Red hit 11 3-pointers in the win at Binghamton, the most in a game since hitting 16 in an 83-70 loss at Western Michigan on Nov. 29, 2013. Cornell then hit 10 in its next game against UMass Lowell.
• Second-year assistant coach Jon Jaques was a starter and senior captain on the 2009-10 Cornell team that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.
• Cornell will play 10 games against teams coming off 20-win seasons and 11 against teams who competed in postseason last year (three vs. NCAA teams, five vs. CIT teams, four vs. CBI teams).
Dwight Tarwater '14 graduated from Cornell last spring with a degree in Applied Economics and Management and is playing an extra year at California-Berkeley.  Through 13 games, Tarwater is averaging 3.2 points and 3.1 rebounds while playing 16.1 minutes per game as a reserve.
• It is the second straight year a Big Red men's basketball player has used his fifth and final year of eligibility at a BCS school, as Errick Peck '13 spent the 2013-14 campaign at Purdue. He served as a captain and part-time starter for the Boilermakers while averaging 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds and shooting 48 percent from the floor in 32 contests (10 starts).
• Members of the Cornell basketball team represent 13 states and one Canadian province.
• Cornell has played in 45 different states, as well as in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Australia and France. The only states the Big Red has not played in are Alaska, North Dakota, Mississippi, Texas and Wyoming.

• Cornell hit four 3-pointers at Syracuse on Dec. 31, 2014 its 727th straight game with at least one made 3-point field goal.
• With six 3-pointers against Oberlin on Jan. 11, 2014, Cornell extended its streak of games with at least one 3-pointer to 700.
• The last time Cornell did not hit a 3-pointer was against Denison in the 1988-89 season opener (0-for-2).
• Since the 3-point shot came into effect in NCAA play during the 1986-87 season, Cornell has hit at least one shot behind the arc in 773 of 777 games, connecting on 4,892 treys, an average of 6.3 per game.

• Cornell begins its stretch of seven of its next eight games at Newman Arena when Howard visits Ithaca on Thursday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.
• It will be the first-ever meeting between the Big Red and the Bison.
Men's Basketball Closes Out Non-Conference Play Saturday Against Cornell

Buffalo vs. Cornell Complete Game Notes
BUFFALO, NY - The Bulls open up 2015 on Saturday afternoon as they conclude non-conference play against Cornell.  The Bulls are looking for their ninth non-conference win, which would be their most since the 2010-11 season.
UB is coming off a 76-50 win at Binghamton on Tuesday night where sophomore Shannon Evans recorded the first triple-double in school history with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.  He is second on the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game and leads the team with 5.5 assists per contest.  Junior Justin Moss leads the Bulls with 16.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.  Picking up his second career start, junior Rodell Wigginton had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Cornell is 6-7 following a 61-44 loss at Syracuse on Wednesday evening.  The Big Red are led by Shonn Miller, who is averaging 16.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and Robert Hatter, who is averaging 12.2 points per contest.
Cornell leads the all-time series 27-15, but the Bulls have won the last two meetings including the last one in Buffalo during the 2011-12 season.  This series dates back to the 1918-19 season.
Tickets are still available by calling 1-877-UB-THERE. Fans who aren't able to make it to Alumni Arena can listen in on ESPN 1520 AM, with Josh Whetzel on the call. The game will also air live on ESPN3 as part of the ESPN University Production Initiative.  Paul Peck and Kevin Sylvester will be on the call.
  •  On Cornell's New Year's Eve meeting at Syracuse, the A.P. writes, "Cornell, which had averaged more than 11 made three-pointers against Syracuse since 2004, was held to 12 points in the first half and finished the game 4-for-22 from long range."

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