A take on the top 10 teams in Ivy men’s hoops history

Editor’s note: Ivy Hoops Online writer Richard Kent has followed Ancient Eight men’s basketball for decades and after consultation with players, coaches and fans has compiled his personal list of the top 10 men’s hoops teams since the formation of the Ivy League as we know it in 1955. No top 10 list in this category is going to look the same, so if you have a top 10 of your own that you’d like to share, please share it in a comment below. 

Read moreA take on the top 10 teams in Ivy men’s hoops history

Inside Ivy Hoops – Jan. 15, 2019

In the latest episode of Inside Ivy Hoops, Ivy Hoops Online editor Mike Tony is joined by all-time Cornell basketball great Jeff Foote and IHO writer Rob Browne.

Mike and Rob preview last weekend’s intriguing Princeton-Penn and Harvard-Dartmouth men’s games while looking ahead to this weekend’s men’s and women’s action:

 

Jeff Foote reflects on his time at Cornell, his keeping tabs on Cornell, Penn and Miami men’s basketball (which has played six games against Ivies the past four seasons), his professional basketball career, his team’s legacy in the conference’s upward trajectory, the Ivy League Tournament and much more:

 

Mike weighs in on why Cornell’s reign atop the Ivy League from the 2007-08 through 2009-10 seasons still feels special:

Ivy 60 for 60: Louis Dale, Jeff Foote and Ryan Wittman

 Following our countdown of the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s men’s basketball history this summer, Ivy Hoops Online is delighted to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball by honoring the top 60 players in Ivy hoops history (in no particular order). For the next entry in our Ivy 60 for 60 series, three of the greatest players in Cornell basketball history whose legacies are inextricably linked, as recalled by legendary Cornell broadcaster Barry Leonard, who wrapped up his 24th season of calling Big Red hoops in 2016:

Read moreIvy 60 for 60: Louis Dale, Jeff Foote and Ryan Wittman

Cornell all-time moment No. 1: The 2010 Sweet 16 run

We’ve counted down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective.

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We Cornell did last because they are the Men of Last Call

Over the course of writing the most memorable moments in Cornell basketball history, I’ve tried to lay out a story – the path a school with no discernible basketball pedigree took to becoming the top story of the biggest event in all of college sports.

It didn’t happen overnight.

Eventually, a novice group of freshmen with potential became young guns taking the league by storm and finished as savvy veterans playing with a purpose. After two straight defeats in the NCAA Tournament, the novelty of seeing the Cornell logo on college basketball’s biggest stage had worn off for the eight-man senior class. It was the last chance for the group who turned around Cornell basketball to become the first Ivy League team since 1998 to win an NCAA Tournament game. It was a mindset that had permeated throughout the whole team even before the season began.

“Obviously the first goal is to win the league and make it three in a row and then hopefully get to the tournament again and definitely win a game or two, Sweet 16 at least, and see where we go from there.” freshman Peter McMillan said in Nov. 2009. “I definitely think we can win a lot of NCAA Tournament games, get kinda far, you know, make some noise,” fellow freshman Errick Peck added.

Read moreCornell all-time moment No. 1: The 2010 Sweet 16 run

Cornell all-time moment No. 2: The undefeated Ivy season

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Cornell is next because it’s good to be healthy!

Nov. 10, 2007 – Cornell opened the 2007-08 season with a win against Lehigh. During halftime, members of the 1988 Ivy League championship team walked onto the court to be honored for the 20th anniversary of their title. It was a fitting time for the celebration. In the 20 years since the 1988 team hung a banner in Barton Hall, Cornell hadn’t been back to the promised land.

The 2007-08 campaign was set up to tell a different story and Cornell poised to play an unfamiliar role in it – the favorite. For the first time since the 1987-88 season, a school other than Penn or Princeton was projected to win the league. The preseason hype was real. Steve Donahue’s teams had made significant strides over the past few seasons, Adam Gore and Jason Hartford were returning from injury, Ryan Wittman and Louis Dale were coming off arguably the two best freshman seasons in school history, and by the seventh game of the year, a new 7-footer would be eligible to step on the court.

Read moreCornell all-time moment No. 2: The undefeated Ivy season

Cornell all-time moment No. 4: 2009 Ivy League champions

Cornell 2009

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Cornell is next because unfortunately, there’s no “two” in “three-peat.”

The 2009 title is like the forgotten child of Cornell’s mini-dynasty – not as historic as the first and not as successful as last.

Read moreCornell all-time moment No. 4: 2009 Ivy League champions

Cornell all-time moment No. 5: Winning the MSG Holiday Festival

Cornell Holiday Festival

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Cornell is next because there’s nothing quite like radio calls of memorable crunchtime moments…

Everyone knows where this countdown is heading. Cornell had to win a lot of games to build itself up to winning three straight Ivy League championships and reach the Sweet 16. Some stand out more than others. We talked about beating Northwestern in 2006; a win that showed the rest of the league Cornell was for real. Next, Cornell had to make that statement to the rest of the country. Their chance – the 2009 MSG Holiday Festival.

Read moreCornell all-time moment No. 5: Winning the MSG Holiday Festival

Cornell all-time moment No. 7: Beating Northwestern in 2006

Louis Dale drives for a layup in his first collegiate game, a 64-61 win over Northwestern.
Louis Dale drives for a layup in his first collegiate game, a 64-61 win over Northwestern.

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Cornell is next because a dynasty has to start somewhere…

It didn’t happen overnight for Steve Donahue, but a steady stream of talent was starting to come into the program, and results were slowly showing on the court. In 2005, Cornell went 8-6 in conference play, its first winning record in the Ivy League since 1993. The Red followed its second-place Ivy finish with a third-place finish in 2006, the first back-to-back top-half league finishes since the 1988 and 1989 campaigns.

Read moreCornell all-time moment No. 7: Beating Northwestern in 2006

Cornell all-time moment No. 10: Hiring Steve Donahue as head coach

 

Pictured above (from left to right): Former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue, former Cornell president Hunter Rawlings, and athletic director Andy Noel
Pictured above (from left to right): Former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue, former Cornell president Hunter Rawlings, and athletic director Andy Noel

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Cornell is next because, well, it’s the last school left. (But not least!)

It won’t be a surprise to anyone that a good portion of the top 10 moments in Cornell basketball history will be dedicated to the three-year run from 2008 through 2010 that culminated in its first ever Sweet Sixteen berth. A lot had to happen and even more had to go right for a school with no discernable basketball pedigree to overtake the highest stage in the conference, and at times the nation. The stone that started the ripple effect was bringing the architect of the transformation to Ithaca, New York.

It was the fall of 2000 and the Cornell men’s basketball team was beginning the new century moving in the wrong direction. It had been 11 seasons since its last conference title in 1988, and the program had only finished with a winning record twice. The path toward relevance again took a detour when after four seasons and a 45-60 record, head coach Scott Thompson was forced to resign to focus on his battle with colon cancer. Whoever would take his place would inherit a team that after being picked to finished third in the league managed only a 3-11 conference record, good for dead last.

That man was 38-year-old Steve Donahue, who was officially hired on Sept. 6, 2000. It would have been a nice Cinderella story if Coach D, with a fresh motion offense, a few of his patented whistles, and some elbow grease took this group from worst to first immediately, but we all know it didn’t go down that way.

Read moreCornell all-time moment No. 10: Hiring Steve Donahue as head coach

ALL FOOLS’ DAY: Cornell extends Bill Courtney’s contract

Cornell is doubling down on coach Bill Courtney.

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.

Read moreALL FOOLS’ DAY: Cornell extends Bill Courtney’s contract