“This is the business we’ve chosen.” – Brian Earl and Hyman Roth
“We played for, I would say, a good 15 minutes tonight, but that’s not good enough against a good program.” – Columbia head coach Megan Griffith, following the Lions defeat to top-seeded Princeton
No matter what the coaches who did not earn victories on Saturday thought, I felt there were three really good games of college basketball on display at Lavietes Pavilion, including a fantastic opener that saw Princeton escape an upset big from Cornell, 77-73. Hopefully, West Coast fans woke up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning to catch it.
Here are some random thoughts and observations from the Ancient Eight’s Super Saturday:
As the country continues to grapple with a deadly pandemic and a growing protest movement against police brutality and centuries-old racial inequalities, Cornell women’s basketball rising junior Theresa Grace Mbanefo and her organization, Women of Color Cornell Athletics (WOCCA) are looking to make structural changes on the East Hill of Ithaca.
The posts of the various female and male student-athletes of color show each holding up a sign describing times when they heard the crowds cheering for them. The last shows all of the athletes holding posters with “But do you see us? #BLM”.
Cornell Athletics announced Monday that it has hired Princeton assistant coach Brian Earl to be its next head coach, replacing Bill Courtney, who was fired last month, in the position.
Earl became associate head coach in 2015 and had been an assistant under two head coaches for the past nine seasons at Princeton, which he graduated from in 1999. According to Princeton Athletics, Earl’s Ivy League peers voted him as the league’s top assistant coach in a November 2010 FoxSports.com poll, and Earl served another five years as assistant under Mitch Henderson, who was promoted to head coach following Princeton’s 2010-11 Ivy League Championship under then-head coach Sydney Johnson.
While most of the Ivy League news this week has centered on the triumph and controversy associated with the Yale basketball team, Cornell University has unexpectedly entered the front pages due to the death of its President, Elizabeth Garrett, according to multiple sources. Ms. Garrett, 52, died on Sunday night at her home in New York City due to colon cancer.
Ms. Garrett was the thirteenth President in Cornell’s history, and its first female leader. She was elected President in September 2014 and was inaugurated on Sept. 18, 2015. Prior to her time at Cornell, she was the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Southern California.
President Garrett did her undergraduate studies at the University of Oklahoma, and earned her law degree from the University of Virginia. Afterwards, she clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. She was a legislative director for Sen. David Boren (D-OK), a member of President George W. Bush’s Advisory Panel for Federal Tax Reform, and a professor of law at the University of Chicago.
In the midst of a six game losing streak, Cornell headed to Penn and Princeton for its final road trip of the season. The Big Red were hoping to get back in the win column, surprise a top-tier team and escape the league basement. Unfortunately, the team finished the weekend with two losses, an eight-game losing streak and sole possession of last place.
Early in last Saturday’s broadcast of the Penn-Cornell game, Big Red announcers Barry Leonard and Eric Taylor recounted a recent conversation with coach Bill Courtney in which the coach was unsure of the identity of his team. After 22 games and in the throes of a four-game losing streak, what does this mean for the program going forward?
We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Cornell is next because, well, it’s the last school left. (But not least!)
It won’t be a surprise to anyone that a good portion of the top 10 moments in Cornell basketball history will be dedicated to the three-year run from 2008 through 2010 that culminated in its first ever Sweet Sixteen berth. A lot had to happen and even more had to go right for a school with no discernable basketball pedigree to overtake the highest stage in the conference, and at times the nation. The stone that started the ripple effect was bringing the architect of the transformation to Ithaca, New York.
It was the fall of 2000 and the Cornell men’s basketball team was beginning the new century moving in the wrong direction. It had been 11 seasons since its last conference title in 1988, and the program had only finished with a winning record twice. The path toward relevance again took a detour when after four seasons and a 45-60 record, head coach Scott Thompson was forced to resign to focus on his battle with colon cancer. Whoever would take his place would inherit a team that after being picked to finished third in the league managed only a 3-11 conference record, good for dead last.
That man was 38-year-old Steve Donahue, who was officially hired on Sept. 6, 2000. It would have been a nice Cinderella story if Coach D, with a fresh motion offense, a few of his patented whistles, and some elbow grease took this group from worst to first immediately, but we all know it didn’t go down that way.
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.