The Big Red have extended Courtney’s contract through 2020.
Cornell athletic director Andy Noel announced the extension Wednesday, which many consider questionable following a fifth straight season under Courtney without a postseason appearance. In five seasons under Courtney, Cornell is 50-95 (.345) overall and 24-46 (.343) in Ivy play.
Noel offered reasons for the extension later Wednesday at a press conference in the concourse outside of Newman Arena, as the gym floor was being cleaned at the time.
It really wasn’t that long ago that Cornell Basketball could be uttered with sincerity in the same sentence as the likes of Duke, Kentucky, Syracuse, and Michigan State. Now, just four short years later, Cornell comparisons have fallen to the company of Grambling State, Southern Utah, and Lamar. Of course, that’s what happens when you go from the Sweet Sixteen to a 1-13 non conference record faster than you can say Wroblewski or Chemerinski.
I write it again because it’s stark. 1-13, what do you do with that? In theory, it’s simple. You change.
Johnny Gray has done a lot of great things this season, but prolific defense has not been what he’s known for. But Gray changed that on Friday. In the first 36 minutes of action, Gray managed to hold the Ivy League Player of the Year favorite to just 10 points on 5-14 shooting. Unfortunately, it was the final four minutes, not the first 36 that made the difference.
Four minutes. How much can really change in four minutes? Just ask Zack Rosen. Rosen, in the final four minutes against Cornell, was unbelievable, playing probably the best stretch of basketball I’ve seen by a point guard at any level. Yes, even including the great Jeremy Lin.
Rosen was the best player on the court. The crowd knew it. Cornell knew it. Most importantly, Rosen knew it, and he played like it. Four minutes, 3-3 shooting, 13 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2 steals. Big shot after big shot. Big play after big play. Rosen single handily turned a four-point deficit into a seven-point victory.
Cornell starts the 2011-2012 season in the same place Jeff Foote began his college career five seasons ago. If the Big Red want to progress in year two of the Bill Courtney era the same way Foote progressed when he traded maroon for bright red, the crew from Ithaca is going to have quite the early test. The 2011-2012 campaign kicks off in Olean, NY as St. Bonaventure boast their best squad in recent memory. The Bonnies return four starters from a team that posted its first winning season in eight years, highlighted by preseason first team A-10 pick, Andrew Nicholson. Nicholson, a rare legitimate NBA prospect out of St. Bonaventure is coming off a year in which he averaged over 20 points and 7 rebounds a game. The forward who is comfortable setting up on either block and who can finish on both sides of the rim, will provide a major challenge to Cornell’s unproven front court.
Cornell, a team who will look to play fast this season, relying on their depth, will have to dial it back Friday night due to a collection of preseason injuries. Most notably riding the pine is junior swingman Errick Peck. Peck, who averaged 11 points per game last season is “questionable” for Friday, but will most likely sit this one out, recovering from off-season knee surgery. On the flip side, early reports indicate that St. Bonaventure is fully healthy for this matchup.