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

Cornell Season Preview – “They’re Bad,” But How Bad?

It’s that time of the year. The leaves are changing colors, the Jets’ season is hopelessly lost, and gym floors everywhere are echoing with the sound of squeaking feet and whistles that have been missing for way too long. It’s the season of previews, where the optimists shine and everyone still has a chance.

Everyone except for Cornell, at least if you ask assistant coaches around the league.

“They’re bad. Pretty simply put, they’re bad.”

“Cornell is in trouble.”

“[I] just don’t see them winning many more games than last year.”

These are among the flattering remarks anonymous Ivy League assistant coaches dispensed about the Big Red in City of Basketball Love‘s “Coaches’ Thoughts” Ivy season preview. The media wasn’t any more impressed as the Big Red were projected to finish last in the preseason media poll by an overwhelming margin.

I get it. Coming off of a 2-26 season with only one Division I win, it’s hard not to automatically slot Cornell at the bottom of the pack. The climb up from the bottom is never as swift as the fall from the top and the Red haven’t done anything to prove that they are more capable than a season ago.

Read moreCornell Season Preview – “They’re Bad,” But How Bad?

Weekend's Winners

Harvard and Columbia both swept their weekends and did some rewriting of the history books.
Harvard and Columbia both swept their weekends and did some rewriting of the history books.

Two teams gained ground in the standings this weekend with historic sweeps. Harvard opened up a one game lead on second-place Yale after bulldozing Penn at the Palestra and earning its first victory since 1989 at Jadwin. Meanwhile, Columbia swept an Ivy weekend for the first time in five years and moved into a tie for third, edging Brown on Friday and stopping Yale on national TV on Sunday. Let”s take a look at the weekend”s big winners.

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Columbia 71, Cornell 61

The Lions did what they had to do, making the halftime adjustments to run away from overmatched Cornell last night at Levien.
It wasn’t pretty down the stretch, but the Lions did what they had to do, making the halftime adjustments to run away from overmatched Cornell last night at Levien.

Rarely does a 10-point win leave the Lion Loyalists as unsatisfied as it did on Saturday night in Upper Manhattan – the aura around the post-game press conference was indicative of that.

Despite Cornell’s late-game run sparked by a full-court press and a small lineup, Coach Smith was proud of the way his team fought through the adversity saying, “We went through some tough ones like that last year and didn’t get it done, so hopefully [this win gives us] a little confidence moving forward.”

The Lions began the night hitting 3-4 from three, taking advantage of a Cornell defense that was overplaying the backdoor cuts and providing open looks off of handoffs and down-screens. But after a David Onuorah (6 pts, 4 rbs) rim-rattling dunk, another Onuorah put-back layup, and a Devin Cherry (16 pts) old fashioned three-point play, the game was tied at 21 with 2:59 left in the first half. A pair of “and-1s” from Alex Rosenberg, followed by a Maodo Lo layup got us to halftime, just 29-26 Columbia.

Read moreColumbia 71, Cornell 61

Searching for Solutions in Ithaca

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Cornell’s failure to play anything resembling defense has resulted in a swift fall to the bottom rungs of college basketball. Can the Big Red even stay competitive in an up year for the Ivy?

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.

1-13.

I write it again because it’s stark. 1-13, what do you do with that? In theory, it’s simple. You change.

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Season Preview: Cornell Big Red

A young Cornell squad will need to "build together" this season as Shonn Miller recovers from shoulder surgery.
A young Cornell squad will need to “build together” this season as All-Ivy star Shonn Miller recovers from shoulder surgery.
In 2012-13: 13-18, 5-9, T-6th place, No Postseason.
 
Believe it or not, there are teams not named Harvard playing basketball in the Ivy League this season. I know, shocking. One of these teams is the kids from Ithaca. I use kids almost literally. That’s what you’re going to see a lot of this season from Cornell: kids. Robert Hatter, Nolan Cressler, Devin Cherry, Dwight Tarwater, and David Onuorah are Cornell’s opening day starters, a lineup that includes two freshman and just one senior. 
 
There are a lot of firsts here. This is the first time since the start of the 2008-09 season that Cornell did not start at least two seniors. That night, Jason Battle was the lone fourth-year player in the starting lineup, contributing four points in 17 minutes to a ten point victory over South Dakota. This is the first time since the start of the 2006-07 season that Cornell has had a freshman in its starting lineup. That night Ryan Wittman and Louis Dale combined for 25 points en route to top Northwestern.

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Sunday Thoughts

A young, quick Penn squad was too much to handle for Harvard as the Crimson fell a game back in the loss column and handed Princeton control of the Ivy title chase with one weekend to play.
A young, quick Penn squad was too much to handle for Harvard, as the Crimson fell a game back in the loss column and handed Princeton control of the Ivy title chase with one weekend to play.

Chaos reigns yet again in the Ivy League. At one point on Saturday night, Dartmouth and Penn led Princeton and Harvard by healthy margins. Princeton would fight back to win, 68-63 on Senior Night, moving to 9-2 in the conference. Harvard, on the other hand, was unable to dig itself out of a 16 point hole, and fell a game behind Princeton in the loss column when Christian Webster”s desperation three at the buzzer fell short. Meanwhile, Brown completed a surprising road sweep of the C”s when Tucker Halpern”s step back three at the buzzer splashed through the net to spoil Senior Night at a stunned Levien Gymnasium. In Ithaca, Yale”s victory over undermanned Cornell was the only ho-hum result of the night.

  • Tony Hicks is making a serious late push for Rookie of the Year. The award seemed completely wrapped up for Siyani Chambers a few weeks ago, but Hicks is averaging 23.8 ppg in his last four games, including 24 points in Saturday”s victory vs. Harvard. Hicks convincingly outplayed Chambers, who struggled to a 1-5 shooting, 7 turnover performance. Fellow freshman Darien Nelson-Henry was the other half of this superfrosh tandem, as the big man took advantage of Harvard”s size disadvantage, going for 18 points and 11 rebounds. Henry Brooks and Miles Cartwright also pitched in with 12 a piece for the Quakers, who had one of the wildest

    up and down weekends imaginable, falling at home to Dartmouth before outplaying league-leading Harvard for the unconventional split.

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Season Preview: Cornell Big Red

This year, Cornell will look to improve upon last year”s 5th place finish. The Big Red open their season at home against Western Michigan on November 10th.

In 2011-12: 12-16, 7-7, 5th place

A Look Back

Two steps removed from the historic Sweet 16 team and the first season that Bill Courtney had his own recruits to work with, the 2011-2012 campaign served as a building block for Courtney and his program. A 5-9 non-conference record coupled with 7-7 in Ivy play defines

the word mediocrity, but did so in a way that provides promise for the future. An overtime win over future NCAA Tournament darlings, Lehigh, looks a lot better now than it did in early December. Near misses on the road against BCS foes, Illinois, Penn State, and Maryland showed the potential this team had. Road woes and inconsistent play kept the Red out of the league’s top half, but a win over Princeton and a thrilling overtime defeat of Yale showed what this team is at its best. Returning a decorated freshman class, including the league’s rookie of the year will allow Cornell to keep building. What won’t be easy to replicate is the production and leadership of Cornell’s starting backcourt. Drew Ferry led the league in three point shooting and Chris Wroblewski departs East Hill as the school’s all-time assist leader.

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