Amid an 80-degree, summer-like Homecoming on Saturday, the Cornell men’s basketball team held its Red-White Scrimmage, unofficially beginning year two of the Brian Earl era. With a year of experience under Earl’s more disciplined system, as well as the coach’s bringing in his first recruiting class, the Big Red look like a more confident and balanced unit that should improve upon last season’s 8-21 record.
On Saturday night, as the Lynah Faithful filled the hockey arena for a preseason contest against Brock University, a slightly more modest crowd populated Newman Arena to watch the Cornell men’s basketball team take part in the annual Red-White Scrimmage. While the team did have three contests in Spain this August, Saturday night’s event marked the unofficial beginning of the team’s 2016-17 campaign and the crowd’s first glimpse of its new coach, Brian Earl.
The Red team consisted of Darryl Smith, Donovan Wright, Matt Morgan, Will Bathurst, Josh Warren, Kyle Brown, and Joe Bayless, while the “White” squad had David Onuorah, Robert Hatter, Desmond Fleming, Stone Gettings, JoJo Fallas, and Jack Gordon. On the sidelines for the scrimmage were Troy Whiteside, Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof, Braxston Bunce, Joel Davis and Pat Smith. After two 12-minute halves, the “Red” team defeated the White by a score of 57-46.
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.
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.