ICYMI: Catching up on the Ivy offseason

With teams a few short weeks away from actual games, here is a collection of off-season stories to catch up on before the start of the 2018-2019 season.

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Brian Earl: The right coach at the right time for Cornell

Princeton finished in the top three in the Ivy League eight straight seasons with Brian Earl as an assistant coach. The Tigers were the only Ivy team to do so in that span. (College Chalk Talk)

In 2010, Cornell Athletic Director Andy Noel took two weeks to hire Virginia Tech assistant coach Bill Courtney as the replacement for the enormously successful Steve Donahue. Following the Big Red’s run to the Sweet Sixteen and Donahue’s jump to Boston College, Noel selected the former Bucknell All-Patriot League player from a final group that included Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Close and then-Temple assistant and
present Colgate head coach Matt Langel.

Read moreBrian Earl: The right coach at the right time for Cornell

Who will be Cornell’s next head coach?

With the firing of Bill Courtney, Cornell will begin a national search for a new head men’s basketball coach.  Who might be targets for the Big Red search committee?  Can the past help decide the future?

Here is a list of the Cornell coaches from the last 40 years:
2010-11 through 2015-16: Bill Courtney (Graduate of Bucknell)
1st Head Coaching job
15 years as Division 1 Assistant and Associate Head Coach, including 8 seasons working under Jim Larranaga at George Mason
60-113 overall and 27-57 Ivy; No post-season appearances; Highest Ivy standing was 5th place
2000-01 through 2009-10: Steve Donahue (Ursinus)
1st Head Coaching job
12 years as college Assistant Coach, including 10 seasons working under Fran Dunphy at Penn
146-138 overall and 78-62 Ivy; 3 Ivy League titles; 3 post-season appearances, including a Sweet 16 run in 2009-10

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Steve Donahue is safe, and Penn won’t be sorry

Steve Donahue won three Ivy championships at Cornell. Few coaches share such a rich Ancient Eight pedigree. (Reuters)
Steve Donahue won three Ivy championships as head coach at Cornell from 2008 to 2010. Few coaches share such a rich Ancient Eight pedigree. (Reuters)

“You are better safe than sorry,” Penn Athletic Director Grace Calhoun said at her Tuesday press conference … in an alternate universe.

But that’s what most people are thinking: Steve Donahue was the safe hire. The safest of safe hires. For those people, Calhoun may as well have introduced him as he sat encased in bubble wrap.

But does safe mean it’s the wrong hire? If you think so, I’ll just refer you to the aphorism in my lede.

Read moreSteve Donahue is safe, and Penn won’t be sorry

Penn to hire Steve Donahue as next head coach

Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News reported this afternoon that Steve Donahue will become the next head basketball coach at Penn, replacing Jerome Allen, who Donahue coached at Penn as an assistant, a position he held from 1990-2000.

The Springfield, Pa. native was an assistant coach at Monsignor Bonner High School near Philadelphia under current Lafayette head coach (and fellow former Penn assistant) Fran O’Hanlon from 1987 to 1988 before serving as an assistant at Philadelphia University from 1988 to 1990. Donahue’s Ivy and Philly ties stretch way back.

But of course, Donahue is best known throughout the Ivy League for head coaching Cornell from 2000 to 2010, making the NCAA tournament in his final three seasons in Ithaca, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2010. Donahue finished 146-138 (.514) at Cornell, which did not finish with a winning record in Ivy play until Donahue’s fifth season.

Donahue moved on to Boston College in 2010 but struggled mightily with recruiting in Chestnut Hill, going just 54-76 (.415) in four seasons as head coach there before getting fired in 2014.

Donahue’s teams are known for motion offense, which worked with great success toward the end of hs run at Cornell and even at BC, where Donahue’s defenses repeatedly failed him.

The move was perhaps the easiest for Penn Athletic Director Grace Calhoun to make because current Penn assistant coach Nat Graham also served under Donahue at Boston College and Cornell in that same capacity.

Calhoun used Fogler Consulting to assist with the head coaching search.

The news comes just nine days after it was reported that former Penn coach Jerome Allen would be fired after five and a half seasons at the helm, and just six days after Penn’s 2014-15 season finale.