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Entries in Cornell (4)


Outclassed: Kentucky Schools Cornell In Sweet 16

John Wall

Special To One Great Season

When I was in second grade, our math teacher challenged us to a real brain-teaser. Is 999 greater than 1,111, she asked? To a child just learning the values of numbers, it seemed plausible to me that because the 9s were bigger, then yes, 999 was greater. I proudly raised my hand with all the other ill-informed children sharing the same opinion and was crushed when the other kids were awarded Jolly Ranchers. One of my fellow morons stood up and in a whiny voice protested, "If you add it all up, 999 is greater!" That made absolutely no sense. We were dumb. We were wrong.

The same misguided principles apply to all the people who were living in the drunken acid trip that was the Cornell Kool-Aid. I'm looking at you, Northeast sportswriters. I'm looking at you, Jay Bilas. I'm looking at you, certain contributors to That must’ve been some powerful s***.


+ TWITTER RECAP: Who Said What About Epic Kansas State-Xavier Game?
+ READER PARTICIPATION: Share Your Hoops Haiku
+ TV CRITIC: March Adness: Cheers To Dos Equis
+ TOURNAMENT TAKEAWAYS: What The First Weekend Taught Us
+ KANSAS COLLAPSE: Jayhawks Fans Left Speechless, Except This One
+ RECIPE: 7 Ingredients For A National Championship
+ MARCH MADNESS: Tourney No Longer Leads To April Sadness
+ COUNTDOWN: The Top 10 Title Games Since 1979
+ LIST: The Top 10 Analysts In College Basketball
+ LIST: The Top 10 Play-By-Play Men In College Basketball

Maybe it's the journalist in me, but I'm a big fan of facts. 

+ Fact: Cornell stacked up gaudy numbers against bad competition. Its lowest three-point percentages of the season came against Kansas and Syracuse. What's amazing to me is that every UK detractor pointed to its weak schedule as a reason the Wildcats eventually would falter. Yet, they chose to ignore this against the great white, Big Red hope.

+ Fact: Kentucky is one of the best defensive teams in the country. UK is long. UK is quick.

+ Fact: Kentucky is clearly the better team

Yet, the "experts" turned a blind eye to this. Not just sophomoric bloggers and their mindless followers, but real analysts and columnists at major media outlets in many parts of the country.  It was portrayed as "good vs. evil." The great white crusaders standing up for all that is right against the dark knights and that Kentucky swagger. Plus, it was perpetuated by folklore. There's the great story about UK players two years ago calling Cornell a “high school team” during the NCAA Tournament. Really? An 11th-seeded Kentucky team that barely made the tournament and lost in the first round was so arrogant about its 13-loss season that it mocked Cornell? And made sure to say it loudly enough for fans to hear? In the news business we used to say, "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story."

Then, the irony: A friend told me, "You’d better rethink your arrogant take on Cornell." I found that ironic considering all the condescending elitist attacks the entire state of Kentucky endured over the last four days. I get it. John Wall cannot solve a Rubix cube in three minutes. I get it. Cornell kids are smart. I get it, Dan Shaughnessy, some Kentucky fans can't spell. But, as DeMarcus Cousins said with his Alabama twang, "It's not a spelling bee."

Ryan Wittman, Jeff Foote and Chris Wroblewski may score a 9 out of 10 on a pop quiz, but three 9s aren’t greater than the Cats' four 1s in Wall, Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Patterson. Consider yourself schooled by a graduate of the Kentucky edyoucashun system. Class dismissed.

Jackey is a die-hard Kentucky fan living in Louisville.


Any Given Thursday: Cornell Aims For Hollywood Ending

Cornell Big Red

Special To One Great Season

Thursday night when Cornell takes on Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, Hollywood better be watching.

Forget "Hoosiers," the tale of the Big Red taking on Big Blue has enough intrigue to make Oliver Stone commission the screenplay for "Any Given Thursday." Just look at the way the villain and underdog roles are already fleshed out.

NCAA Tournament

A team that's won seven NCAA Championships and a team that’s only appeared in seven NCAA Tournament games. A bunch of "one-and-done" freshmen taking on a group of "one last run" seniors. A coach who's worked his way around the rules against a coach who's worked his way up the ranks. Kids playing for the scholarship money and a chance at the NBA and kids playing for the love of the game and a chance to take a break from studying.

The screenwriter won't need to create new characters, either; these Cornell heroes already boast dramatic Hollywood story lines.

There's sharp-shooter Ryan Wittman, son of former NCAA champion, NBA player and coach, Randy Wittman. With a little artist's license, Wittman's relationship with his dad could easily be played out as a "Varsity Blues" situation. "I don’t want ... your life." But some analysts already are giving Wittman a chance at just that; they think he could follow in dad's footsteps and play pro ball after graduation.

There's Mark Coury, who started 29 games at Kentucky before transferring to Cornell, where he's happy to come off the bench. With a little luck, Coury has a score to settle with a former teammate who gave him one too many swirlies in the locker room back in Lexington. Perhaps even better, the 6-9 forward, who will intern at Goldman Sachs this summer, might recognize a play from his days at UK and make the game-winning steal.

In every great sports movie, there's of course the late addition to the squad; maybe it's the team manager who reveals a cannon for an arm, a superstar from the girls' team who helps the boys win it all, or, as in the case of Jeff Foote, a transfer with all the right moves. Back in 2006, Jeff's mom Wanda, a nurse in Elmira, N.Y., treated an injured Cornell player and struck up a conversation with Coach Steve Donahue about her seven-foot tall son, playing ball at nearby St. Bonaventure. It wasn't long before Foote made the move to Cornell, giving the Big Red a key weapon in the paint to offset their deadly three-point shooting.

If "Any Given Thursday" is like your average sports flick, at some point the big, intimidating Kentucky team has to walk by the smaller, less flashy Cornell squad and hurl insults at them. Oh wait, that's already happened.

Two years ago UK and Cornell played in the same region of the tournament and a Wildcat said audibly of the Big Red team as the Wildcats passed by, "They look like a high school team." Throw that quote up on the bulletin board, have the boys slap it on their way out of the locker room before every game and you've got yourself another time-honored movie cliché.

The stage is set, the film is cast, now the only thing left to figure out is, how will it end?

Spain is a writer, reporter, TV host, die-hard Chicago sports fan and, if you can't tell, a Cornell grad. Follow her on Twitter @sarahspain.


Cornell Is Cute, But Big Red No Match For Big Blue

Cornell Big Red

Special To One Great Season

I've always thought there would only be one instance in which I would turn to Flavor Flav for clarity. If for some reason I was running late to an appointment and my cell phone battery was dead and I forgot my watch at home, I’m pretty sure that, judging by the comically large timepiece adorning his neck/chest/lower abdomen, he could tell me what time it is. Well, amazingly, I turn to Flav on another subject –- Cornell basketball. Flavor’s words of widsom? Don’t believe the hype!

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It's funny to me how when America latches onto a Cinderella, it seems to forget the carriage that got her to the dance was a frickin' pumpkin. That glass slipper is really a cheap pump from Payless made by Wizards of Waverly Place (look it up) and assembled with inferior materials. Apparently, at this ball, the punch is Jonestown Kool-Aid, and we all know how that ended. Yeeah Boy!

NCAA Tournament

Whenever anyone talks about Cornell, all uneducated basketball fans immediately point to its January trip to Kansas. Yes, that game was close. Yes, a mid-major held its own against the nation's best. Yes, to the other "Greatest" Ali, Kansas was beatable. This is the same Cornell that lost to Seton Hall, was pounded by Penn and squeaked by Princeton twice before beating up on a quality Temple team and an atrocious Wisconsin team so far in the NCAA Tournament. 

The pundits, novices and idiots (sometimes one in the same) have the axles wobbling on the Big Red bandwagon partly because it's being driven by a pasty-white, Ivy League, feel-good story. Plus, now the Big Red gets the chance to face Public Enemy No. 1: Kentucky. The minute they see me, fear me.

Cornell is to Kentucky what Mike and Mike are to good radio. Kentucky is just not likable outside the Commonwealth. Cue ignorant comments now:

+ John Calipari is a cheater. His two vacated Final Four appearances were due to Marcus Camby getting an agent and the NCAA Clearinghouse's botching of the Derrick Rose situation.
+ DeMarcus Cousins is a thug. How quickly we forget Chas MacFarland's attempt to behead him and Melvin Goins' attempt to de-ball him. 
+ Kentucky fans are obsessive, obnoxious and lack class. OK, I have nothing to rebut that.

Ryan Wittman is tough and Cornell is very disciplined. The Big Red screens like crazy and they can shoot the lights out. They are a very good basketball team, but they are not Kentucky. Leave it to Flav to be the voice of reason.

Ben Jackey is a die-hard Kentucky fan living in Louisville.


Tournament Takeaways: What The First Weekend Taught Us

Ali Farokhmanesh

One Great Season

One of the best opening weekends in recent NCAA Tournament history drew to a close shortly before 8 p.m. ET Sunday, and if you're anything like me, you've already begun counting down every tenth of a second for Thursday's Sweet 16 round to get here.

What did the first two rounds show us? Besides the fact that I can't fill out a bracket with even the slightest bit of success, plenty:

+ No one is invincible. Kansas, not just a No. 1 seed, but the tournament's top overall seed and heavy favorite to win its second national championship in three years, learned that the hard way. The Jayhawks had a star or a budding star at every spot on the floor, but they might not have taken seriously enough the one thing Northern Iowa seemed to have more of: heart.

+ The Big Ten is back. Isn't that what we said in the first week of January, after the college football bowl season? It is, and the same is true on the hardwood. With No. 1 Kansas and No. 3 Georgetown out of the way, Ohio State is the logical pick to rule the Midwest, though it might need to knock off league foe Michigan State -- gimpy guards and all -- in the Elite Eight. And not enough can be said about Purdue's gutsy overtime defeat of Texas A&M, making the Big Ten the only conference to send three teams into the next round. Gritty Chris Kramer doesn't want his career to end just yet. The Purdue senior is straight ballin'.

+ Cornell is legitimate. So is Xavier. Those are two fine basketball teams. That Cornell-Kentucky matchup will be one of the most interesting Sweet 16 games in recent memory. And the Muskies are no longer a precious little mid-major. The Muskies can beat anybody. I loved that rookie coach and hometown fave Chris Mack jabbed a Minneapolis writer after XU took it to the Golden Gophers Friday.

+ Despite the Big Ten props, I do agree with most analysts -- Len Elmore and Seth Davis, in particular -- who say the best-conference debate is a waste of time. Conferences aren't playing conferences. Individual teams are playing other teams in high-pressure, single-elimination games where personnel matchups are critical. That said, what up with the Big East?

+ Looking ahead, if Kentucky and West Virginia win their third-round games in the East, they'd meet in what would no doubt be the best regional final of the tournament. If those teams do make the Elite Eight, that could very well be a de facto national championship game.

+ On the TV front, CBS once again did an outstanding job showing 48 games over 80 hours, and switching to late-game situations. One complaint I did hear came from a colleague in the Bay Area who was disappointed to have to watch the last minute of Sunday's Duke-Cal yawner instead of being switched to the thrilling Xavier-Pittsburgh and Purdue-Texas A&M finishes that unfolded simultaneously at other locations. But overall, I thought CBS got it right again and I hope The Eye continues to broadcast America's greatest sporting event for as long as I'm alive.

+ The Miller Lite commercials are still awful, the Capital One viking ads have never once been funny, the new Dos Equis spots are just as strong as last year's successes, the girl in the Palm commercial is beautiful, Rhys Darby has already jumped the shark with those bad HP ads and Southwest Airlines appears poised to annoy us with their shirt-lifting baggage handlers for two more weeks. More on that from OGS contributor Steve Susi soon.