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:

Louis Dale scored 26 points on 10-for-17 shooting in Cornell’s second-round victory over Wisconsin. Dale averaged 13.2 points, 4.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game for his career and was the 2007-08 Ivy Player of the Year. (Cornell Athletics)

Soft-spoken but with a great sense of humor, Dale had the ability on and off the court to bring out the best of his teammates. This fun-loving nature which was evident throughout Cornell’s magical run to the Sweet 16 was shown on the national stage in the post-game press conference following the Big Reds victory over Wisconsin. Taking a page straight out of a team favorite television show Friday Night Lights, Dale replied to the press “We’ve got eight seniors on this team,” He said with a straight face, “and we want to take this ride as long as we can because after this it’s nothing but babies and memories, so we’ll just keep going.” The entire room of media and players burst into laughter. I caught up with Sweet Lou this past winter at Cornell’s game at Harvard and he is doing well in the private business sector in Boston.

Jeff Foote celebrates Cornell clinching the 2007-08 Ivy League title, the program’s first in 20 years. Foote went on to lead the conference in rebounding and blocks in 2008-09 and 2009-10, as the Big Red snagged two more Ivy championships. (Cornell Athletics)

The most talkative of the big three, Foote aimed to please. He would routinely during games wave his long arms to energize the home crowd at Newman Arena, and he would immediately sprint into the crowd to high-five and mingle with the fans after many a Big Red victory. I still recall with awe a epic “Big Foot” performance in a memorable 104-98 overtime triumph over Bucknell in Lewisburg. Foote would set career highs with 28 points and 18 rebounds in addition to three blocks. Since shutting down his pro basketball career, Foote is currently attending law school at the University of Miami, along with helping out the Miami varsity basketball team as a graduate assistant coach.

Ryan Wittman averaged 16.8 points per game during his Cornell career, including a 43.1 percent clip from three-point range. Wittman was named 2009-10 Ivy Player of the Year. (straitpinkie.com)
I found Wittman to be the most selfless athlete I have ever met at Cornell. After scoring 34 points against La Salle in his senior year to pass the great John Bajusz, I asked him how it felt to be No. 1. In typical Wittman style, he brushed it off saying he had no idea he was close to the record and that it might be something to talk about at team reunions many years from now. His coach Steve Donahue remarked that he never coached a player who had a greater sense of the moment in a game and what was needed to be done to achieve the end result – in his case, a team victory. I vividly remember two of those moments for Wittman both during the 2009-10 season. The most dramatic was his 35-foot shot at the buzzer in overtime to lead Cornell past Davidson in the MSG Holiday Festival, capping a 29-point effort. Later that season, in a crucial Ivy game after Cornell suffered its only league loss the previous night at Penn, Wittman scored seven points in the final 2:14 to seal a 48-45 victory at Princeton. He was the ultimate team player, but as those who know him would attest, an even better person and friend. At present, Witt is working in the financial industry in Boston.
Wittman, Dale and Foote: three-time outright Ivy League champions and a Sweet 16 berth, the conference’s first since 1979. (Ezra Magazine)

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