For Cornell’s first-year head coach Brian Earl, the 2016-17 campaign was going to have challenges typical to many new Ivy League coaches. In addition to bringing some new staff and a different playing style, the coach was not able to recruit any of his own players. With only one first-year coming to East Hill in the fall, the team was similar to the one that went 10-18 overall and 3-11 in the conference last year.
On November 30, Cornell headed into its Finals Break by beating Northeastern, 80-77, for its first home and second overall win of the season. With the campaign set to resume on Saturday against 7-2 Wyoming, where do things stand for the 2-5 Big Red?
With the hiring of former Princeton player and associate coach Brian Earl, Cornell is moving away from the guard-oriented style that was favored by its previous coach. Since former coach Bill Courtney had only one recruit arriving at East Hill this fall, the new coach was going to have to work with the same team that was 10-18 overall and 3-11 in the Ivies last year.
Last year’s squad played at a fast tempo with pressure defense and one-on-one offense. This year’s team has attempted to slow down the pace on both sides of the ball while becoming a more balanced team that focuses on player and ball movement.
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.
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.
The last several weekends have been difficult for the Cornell basketball program. Although losses to Princeton and Yale were expected, it was hoped that there would be more competition against the top tier, along with one or two victories against Brown and Penn. Unfortunately, the Tigers and Bulldogs together averaged 30-point wins, while the Bears and Quakers were able to withstand Cornell’s pressure and emerged victorious. In the midst of a four-game losing streak, it was thought that the Ithaca arrival of Dartmouth and Harvard, two teams that were defeated on the road by the Big Red a few weeks ago, would provide the opportunity for Cornell to get back in the win column.
Columbia 90, Harvard 76
The Lions entered this weekend knowing they needed to win out to have a realistic shot at the Ivy title after Princeton stole one at Levien Saturday night. And Columbia held serve at Levien in its return to game action, with Alex Rosenberg and Maodo Lo pitching in 23 and 22 points respectively as their senior seasons get into crunchtime. The Lions notched 1.43 points per possession and shot 57.4 percent from the floor, enough to withstand similarly hot shooting from the Crimson, who shot 11-for-18 from beyond the arc. Let’s be honest though, this game should be remembered for Lo’s ridiculous, nonchalantly athletic quarter-court bank shot to end the first half.
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?
Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you,
And I’m wondering what it is I should do,
It’s so hard to keep this smile from my face,
Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place,
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you
-Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan, “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealers Wheel (1972)
Heading into this weekend, Cornell looked to build upon its road sweep of Harvard and Dartmouth to solidify its hold onto fourth place in the Ivy League. After being thoroughly dismantled by first-place Yale, Cornell ended its four-game road trip at 2-2 and finds itself in a tie for fifth place at 2-4 (9-11 overall). After week four of the conference schedule, the league appears to be divided into several groups. While Yale, Princeton and Columbia are at the top, Harvard and Dartmouth find themselves clustered at the bottom. The Big Red are presently stuck in the middle with Penn and Brown.
A longtime friend of IHO, Rob Browne has agreed to join the site as a contributor focused on Cornell, a team poised to pull off a key upset or two during Ivy play. Here’s Rob’s in-depth look at the state of the Big Red:
Although picked last in the preseason Ivy League poll and having an initial KenPom raking of 311, Cornell has started the season 7-9 (0-2 Ivy) and finds itself with a current ranking of 232. While its most lopsided victory was against Division III Penn State Harrisburg, the Big Red scored decisive victories at home against Binghamton (No. 333) and Lafayette (No. 321). They had several close wins against Howard, (No. 269), Colgate (No. 209), St. Peter’s (No. 178) and Siena ( No. 109).
Yale – With Princeton missing Hans Brase for the 2015-16 season due to injury and Columbia’s defense still struggling to make an impact, Yale has to be considered the favorite to win the Ivy League title at this early point. The comfort sophomore guard Makai Mason has displayed in running this offense is perhaps the biggest reason why. Mason posted 21 points and five assists in 36 minutes in Yale’s 99-77 home win over Sacred Heart Monday, a game in which pretty much everything came together for the Elis. Yale notched 16 offensive rebounds, scored 27 second-chance points to Sacred Heart’s 10 and took 17 more shots than SHU as a result. The Bulldogs also enjoyed 24 bench points and shot 52.9 percent (9-for-17) from three.
A lot of Ivies can shoot the ball from deep and have offensive depth. None can hit the boards like the Bulldogs can, especially on the offensive end, and that will pay dividends for them come conference play. Yale proved in its season opener that it can win without reigning Ivy Player of the Year Justin Sears.