Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Big Red Are For Real

Almost a week ago, on December 23, as I was heading into work after dropping my kids off, I was listening to WFAN here in NY. Craig and Boomer were off that morning and Adam the Bull was substituting for them. He got on the subject of St John's and how long it's been since they have been good. He continued on how they were starting to get votes in the Top 25 and had beaten Hofstra and they were playing in the Holiday Festival Championship. And then he went off on how they lost to Cornell in the championship and how disappointing it was for them to lose to Cornell. He said "Cornell?!!" and something to the effect of "Cmon".

As I heard this, I nearly stopped the car as I did when Billy Packer, when on Mike and the Mad Dog back in April 2006, stated that there was no statistic that could show why George Mason was in the Final Four was (how about they were in the Top 10 in Scoring Defense in the country, Mr. ACC!). Or when Michael Kay compared Stephen Curry to J.J. Redick before Curry went pro (baseball expert trying to be a college basketball expert). Once again, a radio sports personality/expert shot off their mouth and didn't do their homework.

I waited to post this article until Cornell had won another big game, just to show again that the Big Red winning the Holiday Festival was not a fluke. Just like the win at Alabama, which #4 Purdue barely accomplished having to comeback from 15 points in the second half to win. Just like the win at UMass, something Memphis couldn't accomplish. Just like the road win at Drexel, something Northeastern couldn't accomplish.

Well, the Big Red did it again. They held on this afternoon for a 78-75 win at LaSalle. That makes it two A-10 road kills for Cornell and three wins against the A-10 overall (defeated St Joe's at home earlier in the season). The Big Red are 6-1 on the road and have won eight in a row. They have the #24 overall RPI in the country. Their strength of schedule (SOS) is 33rd in the country. And by the way, they have made the NCAA Tournament the last two years.

And they are talented and they have basketball pedigree. Remember Randy Wittman, star shooting guard/forward for the Indiana Hoosiers, a member of the 1981 NCAA championship team, a first round NBA draft pick for the Hawks and played for the Hawks and Pacers? Well guess who is the star guard for Cornell? Randy's son Ryan, who only had 34 points on 11 of 21 shooting including 4 of 9 from beyond the arc in the win over LaSalle today.

And it's not like Wittman is small, which was the bugaboo with Curry (whose Dad is former NBA great Dell Curry) and why larger schools didn't recruit him either. Wittman is 6-6, 210 pounds. So how do schools like Davidson and Cornell see things that other schools don't in two kids who have a family pedigree of accomplishment?

What's funny is that the NY Times recently had a great article about why New York City is no longer the center of the college basketball universe. And in the article, coach Tom Pecora of Hofstra noted the following;
"It’s become not only a national game but a global game, so everyone’s better at it. Now there’s rural kids who are outstanding basketball players. The game has broadened and there’s a much more level playing field.”
So how come Pecora missed a Minnesota kid with the pedigree of Wittman's? How did other "higher level" schools miss a shooter of such capability, a finalist for Mr. Minnesota Basketball in his senior year? Well, their loss is Cornell's gain.

But like I said in my earlier article on Cornell, it's not just Wittman. They have an outstanding center in seven foot Jeff Foote and another solid sharpshooter in Chris Wroblewski, two other players the higher level schools missed.

So Adam the Bull, next time you make a statement, make sure to do your homework. The Big Red are for Real. Just ask the coaches at Alabama, UMass, Drexel, St Joe's, Davidson, St John's and now LaSalle.

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