Cornell’s first half en route to a thrilling 60-59 victory over Columbia offered more than just a 14-0 start; it featured Matt Morgan surpassing Ryan Wittman as Cornell’s all-time leading scorer and move into fourth place all-time in Ivy men’s scoring history.
Morgan has shown over the last four years that he is one of the premier scorers in mid-major basketball along with Fletcher Magee (Wofford) and Mike Daum (South Dakota State). Morgan is now one of just over 570 players who have scored more than 2,000 points all time. His streak of 68 games with double-figure points is now 23rd all-time. His three free throws on the night also put him 14th in conference history in made free-throws. His three steals put him 13th in program history and sits 15th in Cornell history in steals. He now sits just 114 points away from second all-time in conference scoring, a slot long held by Jim Barton of Dartmouth.
His fourth straight scoring title seems like a sure thing, as he is averaging at least 3.9 points more per game than any other Ivy player, with second place belonging to Princeton’s Devin Cannady, who has been suspended.
Morgan also hit a career-high nine threes in Cornell’s previous game (a win at Towson), tied for first in program history for a single game. Becoming Cornell’s all-time leading scorer may now be his greatest accomplishment, but that may change once he becomes second in conference history. Unless he averaged 35.3 points per game the rest of Ivy play, Morgan won’t break Bill Bradley’s record of 2,503 points, unless Cornell finds itself in the postseason.
The Cornell Big Red entertained the Columbia Lions in the Ivy opener for both schools in frigid and snowy Ithaca. The tip-off was moved up to 1:30 p.m. in anticipation of the first big winter storm of the season.
Matt Morgan, the Ivy’s leading scorer, was honored in a pregame ceremony upon entering the league’s 2,000-point club in his last outing. Entering the game needing six points to surpass the legendary Ryan Wittman as Cornell’s career leader, Morgan needed only five minutes to set the new mark. His 21 points for the game vaulted him into fourth place on the Ivy career scoring list. He is on a pace to move up to the No. 2 spot, trailing only Bill Bradley.
Morgan’s early flourish jump started Cornell to a 14-0 lead. At the break, the Big Red held a commanding 39-25 lead, thanks to nine three-pointers against only two for the Lions. Morgan’s 19 first-half tallies more than tripled the output of any Lion.
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:
Matt Morgan had 38 points, Josh Warren had 18, and Jimmy Boeheim had 14 as Cornell raced past Towson, 86-74, at SECU Arena Wednesday night. Cornell had trailed in the first half by as many as eight points but got hot after Morgan hit four threes in as many minutes, seizing a 22-point lead in the second half. Cornell finishes nonconference play at 8-8, after winning three of their last four games with Columbia now looming in the distance.
In past years, the Ivy League office organized a teleconference call for the men’s basketball coaches, a few days after the preseason media poll. At those events, the coaches would talk about their teams, as well as answer questions from the Ivy League moderator and a small number of reporters. In addition, Reggie Greenwood, the league’s Coordinator of Officials, would discuss any rule changes for the upcoming season. This year, the league decided to do away with the call in favor of having roundtable conversations with the men’s and women’s coaches.
The two 30-minute videos, which were shot in New Haven on Sept. 5 (women’s coaches) and Sept. 12 (men’s coaches), focused on the general improved state of Ivy recruiting, the difficulties in scheduling nonconference games as an improved mid-major conference, the unique challenges in playing back-to-back Ivy weekends, the importance of the Ivy Tournament for late-season competitiveness, and the significance of the league’s partnership with ESPN. What fans did not hear was anything related to the specific teams and players.
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, we focus on John Bajusz, one of the greatest players in Cornell basketball history…
In the fall of September 1986, Philadelphia Inquirer writer Dan Rottenberg described his disappointment in then-first year Eagles coach Buddy Ryan, who refused to shake hands with opponents following games. When looking for the antidote to Ryan’s unprofessional behavior, Rottenberg remembered the actions of Cornell star John Bajusz.
In March 1986, the Big Red went down to the Palestra with a one game lead on Brown with two games remaining. Cornell’s star captain was blanketed by Penn defenders all evening, forcing him into extremely long outside shots. Although miraculously making nine of 12 shots and going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe, his team was down eight with a minute to go. After being removed from the game by coach Tom Miller, a disappointed Bajusz (pronounced BAY-us) refused to go to the bench until he ran to midcourt to warmly shake the hands of the three Quakers defenders and wave congratulations to the remaining two Penn players under the basket. Without a title, the 21-year-old Bajusz was more of a champion than a Super Bowl winning coach greater than twice his age.
The Ivy hoops fan base is a small and select group. Unlike other colleges (and I use the term extremely judiciously for most institutions located outside The Eight) there are few zealots. However, there are two who deserve a certain amount of praise. Thus I would like to dedicate this Power Poll to two of the stalwarts of our avocation, namely, Michael James (@Ivybball) and the Cornell Basketball Blog. They both add a certain dimension to the analysis of watching Ivy hoops and they couldn’t be more different. Their occasional domestic spats on social media are legendary — the cool, calculating number-cruncher versus the overly emotional and often fairly delusional Big Red fan. One, a haughty winner in the recent Ivy rooting sweepstakes and the other, a “we try harder” guy who still wishes beyond any reasonable hope that it was still 2009 and Jeff Foote was roaming the Ithaca post. In essence, these two play the Spock and McCoy respectively in Ivy hoops coverage to my omniscient, gallant, rational, and let’s be fair, womanizing, Kirk. With these two in mind, and six games into the 14-Game Tournament, here is my usual Penn-centric IHO power poll.
We’ve counted down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective.
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.