The first round game of Temple vs. Cornell is a five vs. twelve match-up and we all know that those types of upsets happen regularly in the NCAA Tournament. Cornell is the Ivy League champion and that usually means they are a fundamentally-sound basketball team that very rarely beats themselves. Temple will have more than their hands full in this game with Cornell’s leading scorer and the Ivy League Player of the Year, Ryan Wittman, as he is a big-time scorer at forward. He poses a threat with his 6’7’’ frame as he can shoot from behind the arc, where he is a forty-two percent shooter, as well as drive to the basket. Cornell will also have the advantage down low with Jeff Foote, their seven-foot center, who is the reigning back-to-back Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. This game also features longtime friends coaching against each another. Temple’s coach, Fran Dunphy, was the longtime coach at Penn and Cornell’s coach, Steve Donahue, spent ten years as Dunphy’s assistant. Cornell is trying to become the first Ivy league team to win a game in the NCAA Tournament since Princeton did so in 1998 and this is their best chance since. I am not sure if Cornell will be able to handle the athletic players from Temple. Despite all of the hype they are receiving, Cornell’s run to the NCAA Tournament will be short-lived as they will lose to Temple in a blowout.
Steve Donahue joined 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia with Mike Missanelli to talk about how he has built a program at an Ivy League school, having to target a smart player and hoping that he wants an Ivy League education, and whether he has talked to Fran Dunphy.
What he thinks about the hype that Jay Bilas has given his team going into the tournament:
“Well I spent good money and it should come out and what he said was exactly what I asked him to say.”
How he has built a program at an Ivy League school:
“Well Mike I think it is a little different than you do at other spots. There is no real quick fix. It is not like we could go out, in particular when our program was as down as it was, but I think we did it pretty simple like any other business…We tried to get real good people that had some talent. Furthermore each year you try to get a little better talent and these kids that have helped us build this program year in and year out by just getting a little better. With this senior class, with that we got a little lucky. We had some kids that really turned out to be some terrific basketball players and then a seven-foot kid who could play anywhere in the country.”
How he got Louis Dale out of Alabama:
“He got overlooked by Alabama and UAB. He is an academic kid. This kid got 1350 on his SAT and he was looking for something where he could come in and play and that is where hard work and luck come together probably.”
On having to target a smart player and hoping that he wanted an Ivy League education:
“No doubt, I think the advantage that we have is that we could recruit anywhere in the world. That is the advantage. Obviously the disadvantage is that it costs $52,000 to come here and that we don’t offer scholarships. I think we have a heck of a product. What we tried to do is show them my vision that I think that we could build something special here and that we could go to NCAA Tournaments and that we could compete nationally and fortunately enough we have been able to do that.”
What his reaction was when he first saw that he was going to play Temple:
“Mike I was stunned. I just didn’t see it coming. I knew that we were still out there and that we were still out there. I just thought that how well they played down the stretch winning the regular season, win the conference tournament and that they would be a three or maybe a four seed and I didn’t think that we would fall to thirteenth. I thought that we were safe but sure enough we got a little less than we thought and here we go.”
Whether he has talked to Fran Dunphy:
“We did. We talked last night. The thing is, I talk to or text Dunph about three times a week. We had a ton of common opponents this year. We actually scrimmaged Navy down at Temple. Obviously I don’t know what team more than I know Temple. I know a lot about them because I have great interest in not only him but Matt Langle and Sean Trace and Dave Duke.”
Tags: #5 seed vs. #12 seed, 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, 5-12 upset, building an Ivy League dynasty, coached at Penn with Fran Dunphy, Cornell, Cornell Basketball, Ivy League vs. A-10 opponent, Ivy League winners, Jeff Foote, longtime Fran Dunphy assistant, potential upset, Ryan Wittman, Steve Donahue