Saturday, February 14, 2015

News and Notes: Saturday Edition

Below, news and notes for Saturday...

  • Here is another look at Cornell's incoming 7-member frosh class for next season:
Stone Gettings (Loyola HS) Los Angeles, CA, 6-8, F
Matt Morgan (Cox Mill HS) Concord, NC, 6-2 G
Troy Whiteside (Webb School) Knoxville, TN, 6-4, G
Joel Davis (Wayne Country Day School) Goldsboro, NC, 6-3
Donovan Wright (Blair Academy) Blairstown, NJ, 6-6, F
Joseph Ritter (Woodrow Wilson HS) Dallas, TX, 6-8, F
Xavier Eaglin (Dayton HS) Raymond, TX, 6-7, F
Jack Gordon (St. Mark's School) Dallas, TX, 6-4, G
Checking in with Cornell's recruits: The LA Daily News and LA Times report that Stone Gettings had 30 points and 8 rebounds in a win over Harvard-Westlake (and future Yale recruit, Alex Copeland) on Friday night.  Per the Independent Tribune, Matt Morgan led his team to a conference title with a 31 point performance.  He also had his jersey retired, see video highlights via USA Today/NBC Charlotte.
  • Previewing last night's Cornell-Dartmouth game, the Valley News writes, "Cornell (11-11, 3-3) won the Ivies in 2010 and made an NCAA tournament run that season. The Big Red is 46-89 since then under fifth-year coach Bill Courtney."
  • The Albany Times Union writes, "Cancer on a roll-Galal Cancer of Albany (CBA) is averaging 9.7 points for the Cornell men's basketball team, but the 6-foot-2 senior guard has hit in double figures in his past five games, including a team-high 17 points in a 68-60 Ivy League victory over Princeton this past Saturday.  He's also second on the team in assists (72) and is averaging 3.8 rebounds with 25 steals for the Big Red, which is 11-11 overall and 3-3 in league play."
Dwight Tarwater
California basketball
Now: Tarwater, a graduate transfer from Cornell, is only averaging 3.7 points per game, but he's still making an impact for former Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward hit a game-winning 3-pointer to help Cal beat UCLA on Feb. 7. At Cornell, Tarwater started all 28 games as a senior, averaging 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game before earning his undergraduate degree and transferring to Cal.
Then: Tarwater scored more than 1,500 points during his prep career at Webb. He averaged 23.2 points and 10.1 rebounds as a senior, winning Division II-A Mr. Basketball. Tarwater also was a two-time all-state selection.
MEN: Coach Bill Courtney’s squad (11-11, 3-3) will play its first full conference road weekend beginning at 7 p.m. Friday at Dartmouth (8-12, 1-5). The Red will be at Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge, Mass., on Saturday for a 6 p.m. tip-off against Ivy co-leader Harvard (15-5, 5-1).
Cornell split last weekend at home against traditional Ivy powers Pennsylvania and Princeton, and achieved those results in very different ways. Against the Quakers, Cornell led Penn for 39 minutes, 49 seconds, but came out on the short end of a 71-69 final score. The visitors didn’t take their first lead till 40 seconds remained, and scored the game-winning points with just four seconds to play.
Then on Saturday against Princeton, the Tigers led by 12 points with eight minutes to play but Cornell went on a 22-0 run to seize control and win, 68-60. Senior guard Galal Cancer led the Red with 17 points, while classmate Shonn Miller chipped in 15 points, six rebounds and three of Cornell’s six steals.
Miller, a 6-7 forward, ranks first in the Ivies in scoring at 16.3 ppg., just a shade better than Columbia junior guard Maodo Lo and Harvard senior swingman Wesley Saunders (both at 16.2 ppg.). Miller is tied for first in rebounding (8.0 rpg.) with Brown senior Rafael Maia.
Dartmouth enters Friday’s game having lost four straight since handing Harvard its lone league loss, 70-61, two weeks ago. Junior guard Alex Mitola and 6-9 senior center Gabas Maldunas lead the Big Green at 12.9 and 10.8 points per game, respectively.
The all-time series between the Red and Green is dead even after 208 all-time meetings, although Cornell has won 18 of the last 22. The teams split the season series the last two seasons, with last year’s giving Cornell its lone Ivy League victory.
Harvard hasn’t lost since getting upset at home by Dartmouth, having won four straight, including last weekend’s road sweep of Brown (76-74 in OT) and Yale (52-50). Junior guard Siyani Chambers and sophomore guard Corbin Miller (team-best 48 3-pointers) are both averaging 9.2 points in support of Saunders.

Cornell basketball
Friday: Cornell (11-11 overall, 3-3 Ivy League) at Dartmouth (8-12, 1-5), 7 p.m.; The Buzzer (98.7)
Saturday: Cornell at Harvard (15-5, 5-1; v. Columbia on Friday), 7 p.m.; The Buzzer (98.7)
Friday: Dartmouth (10-10, 1-5) at Cornell (13-7, 4-2), 7 p.m., Newman Arena (4,473)
Saturday: Harvard (9-11, 2-4) at Cornell, 6 p.m., Newman Arena
The Cornell men’s basketball team hits the road this weekend for games against Dartmouth and Harvard. The Red went 1-1 this past weekend, losing to Penn, 69-71, and beating Princeton, 68-60. The Red are currently 3-3 in Ivy League play and sit tied for fourth place with Columbia. This weekend gives the squad an opportunity to make up ground on league leaders Yale and Harvard, who both sit at 5-1 in the conference.
The Red was unable to squeeze out a victory against Penn this past Friday and saw Quakers junior guard Tony Hicks hit a game winning floater with four seconds left. While the game brought a less than thrilling result, the Red did see senior forward Shonn Miller return to form after poor outings the previous week against Brown and Yale. Miller had 20 points and 10 rebounds on 5/11 shooting. He was able to get inside and make an impact, something that Yale in particular did a great job of preventing last week. Miller followed up that performance with a strong 15 point outing against Princeton. He still sits at the top of the Ivy League in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg) and continues to make a strong case for Ivy League Player of the Year.
“We were able to shoot the ball better which was good, because we haven’t shot well in previous games. Shonn made improvements getting inside more too,” said head coach Bill Courtney.
The Cornell guards made tremendous offensive contributions as well, with Galal Cancer, Devin Cherry and Robert Hatter all getting into double figures at one point in the weekend. Additionally, in recent weeks, the Red backcourt has done a great job of extending on-ball pressure defensively. The squad has been able to create turnovers and get out and run in transition as a result of the stout guard defense.
“We were able to do all [of] the things that we talk about everyday in practice. Our defensive pressure was tremendous and we forced them into rushed shots. We want to control the tempo of the game, and we did that,” Courtney said.
The Red will have to maintain that defensive tenacity this weekend when it takes on Dartmouth and Harvard. Despite Dartmouth’s last place 1-5 record, it is not a team to be taken lightly. The Green boasts three players that are in the Top-20 in scoring in the Ivy League in Alex Mitola (12.9 ppg), Gabas Maldunas (10.8 ppg) and Connor Boehm (9.8 ppg).
The Red follows up its trip to Hanover with a visit to Cambridge to take on Harvard and Crimson standout forward and preseason Wooden Award Watch List star, Wesley Saunders. Saunders currently sits second to Shonn Miller in scoring with 16.2 ppg. While heavy attention is payed to Saunders, and rightfully so, the Crimson also has a strong player in junior guard Siyani Chambers, who is scoring 9.2 ppt while dishing out just over four assists a game.
“We will have to stay sound and do what we talk about in practice. Our guys have to be ready to play hard when asked to, and if they are then we’ll see what happens from there,” Courtney said.
The squad will hit the road for the first time in two weeks and have matchups against two tough teams. Despite the what will be two hard-fought games, the Red has an excellent opportunity to put itself into contender territory. The Ivy season is not over by any stretch of the imagination and the Red has a chance to get right into the thick of things with a couple of big wins in the Northeast.
 Men's Basketball Returns to Cambridge to Face Cornell and Columbia
Basketball coaches worry. Concern might as well be in the job description, right between recruiting and game planning. It’s no different for Harvard men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker. And over the last week, he has had plenty to worry about.
For one, there was the back-and-forth battle with bottom-dwelling Brown Friday. Amaker needed a herculean effort—and then a herculean second effort—from his best player to even get that game into overtime. The Crimson eventually pulled a win out, 76-74. But that wasn’t the game everybody was fretting over.
The next night, Harvard traveled to face Ivy-leading Yale. Amaker had to worry about his team’s energy and composure, an Ivy League Player of the Year candidate dressed in blue, and plenty more as the Crimson hung on for a 52-50 win.
All his worrying paid off with a huge weekend for Harvard—one that vaulted it back into first place in the league.
But causes for concern keep coming.  Soon after the team got back to Cambridge, the Crimson coaches scheduled extended activities for Sunday. Players got medical treatment and had a team lift and a team stretch. There was also film study—a Sunday rarity—as Mother Nature threatened Monday’s schedule.
“Thank goodness,” Amaker said Wednesday, recalling the prescient decision to autopsy the Brown and Yale games before the ensuing snowstorm canceled Monday’s practice.
What Amaker and his team saw on tape only brought more things to worry about. This weekend, Harvard will face the best offense and the best defense it will see in league play, Amaker said Wednesday.
Such is life in the Ancient Eight.
Friday, Columbia (11-9, 3-3) comes to the Lavietes Pavilion. The Lions are third in the standings with the third-highest margin of victory and the fourth-best KenPom score. Paper says they are the toughest test for Harvard outside of Yale. History agrees.
Columbia pushed the Crimson to double overtime in New York last season and beat them by 15 the year before that.
“They have played exceptionally well against us—beaten us—and we have played some incredibly hard-fought, entertaining games against them,” Amaker said. “We’ve been in those kinds of situations where you have to be a little fortunate to come out on top.”
This year, Maodo Lo, the league’s fourth most prolific three-point maker and second highest scorer, leads the Lions. The team as a whole is second in the conference in three-pointers made, thanks largely to Lo, Steve Frankoski, and Kyle Castlin. Those three will try to stretch Harvard’s defense to limit the Crimson’s advantage down low.
“It’s never fun playing against them,” senior forward Jonah Travis said. “They are always going to give you their best punch and you know it’s always going to be a dogfight.”
Saturday, Cornell (11-11, 3-3) brings another set of concerns to Cambridge. The Big Red leads the league in field goal defense and is third in points allowed per game. Cornell has posted those numbers thanks to a pressing defense that has forced 13 turnovers per game and a back line that leads the Ivies in blocks per game.
“That’s what we are worried about,” Amaker said of the Big Red press. “Some people have taken some chances [pressing us] and we haven’t handled it as well as we would have liked.”
Early in the year, for instance, Harvard turned the ball over 24 times and lost to a pressing Holy Cross squad. Still, Amaker said, he’d be glad to see Cornell stretch its defense and get aggressive.
“For a [Harvard] team that has struggled to score a little bit,” he said, breaking the press can lead to easy buckets.
Instead, one of Amaker’s biggest concerns is that his team isn’t worrying enough.
After the team’s loss to Dartmouth, the seniors rallied the group, the Crimson showed its toughness, and the players ran off four straight road victories.
Now they return home and find themselves fully healthy for the first time all year. That might seem like a good position to be in, but for a basketball coach, it’s just the cause of another worry.
“One of my biggest fears it that because we are coming home after being on the road for two weekends, are you ready to ‘phew?’—to have that kind of attitude and think because you’re home it’s supposed to happen for you,” Amaker said. “That’s not the way it works.”
  •  The Harvard Athletics Game Notes
Series vs. Cornell
•    Dartmouth has played the Big Red 208 times entering this game, more than any other opponent, and both teams have won 104 games.
•    The two squads split the series each of the last two years with each one winning on its home court, a trend the Big Green would like to see continue for the time being.
•    Cornell won the first game last year in Ithaca, 70-67, in the only game decided by less than seven points all season for the Green, before Dartmouth responded with an 87-78 triumph in Hanover.
•    Dartmouth is 16-11 versus Cornell in Leede Arena having won three of the last four meetings.
•    Dartmouth head coach Paul Cormier is 9-13 against the Big Red during his career.

Scouting the Big Red
•    The return of Shonn Miller from injury has allowed Cornell to rebound from a difficult 2-26 campaign last year to 11-11 thus far in 2014-15.
•    Last weekend, the Big Red split games at home with a 71-69 loss to Penn before responding with a 68-60 triumph over Princeton.
•    The aforementioned Miller leads the Ivy League in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg), and is second in free throw percentage (.852), plus tops Cornell with 44 blocks and 32 steals.
•    Aside from Miller, the Big Red rely on Robert Hatter (11.4 ppg), Devin Cherry (10.3) and Galal Cancer (9.7) for offense. No one else on the roster averages more than 3.1 points a night.
•    Cornell is adept at getting to the free throw line and converting, leading the league by a wide maring at 74.1 percent.
•    The Big Red may be last in FG percentage (.400) and seventh in 3FG percentage (.319), but lead the Ivies in FG percentage defense (.378).
•    Head coach Bill Courtney (Bucknell ’92) is in his fifth year with a record of 48-88. Prior to coming to Ithaca, he had assistant jobs at Va. Tech, UVA, Providence, George Mason and Bowling Green.

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