Foote key to Big Red's success
He may not hit the big threes or make the nifty passes, but Jeff Foote is the key to Cornell's success. That was most evident in the Big Red's dismantling of IVY League rival Harvard on Saturday. Even Harvard's coach knew it.
"I told my kids he's the guy that makes the biggest difference" Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said.
From the get go Cornell dumped the ball inside to Foote, who used an array of moves, mostly a right handed hook, to score at will in the paint. He topped it off with a ferocious dunk that made the sell-out crowd go nuts.
"I thought he was the key to the team" Amaker said.
Foote's play is not only a testament to his size and skill, but also his work ethic. He began as a long, gangly 6-foot, 9-inch senior at Spencer Van-Etten. From there he walked on to St. Bonaventure, but was nothing more than a big man at the end of the bench for the Bonnies.
"Now, I don't want to embarrass him" Cornell coach Steve Donahue said, "but I've never been around a player whose made such big strides in his game."
When he came to Cornell, most people wondered why he was even on the team.
"I had coaches in division three saying 'What are you doing with this kid?'" Donahue remarked. The big man would prove them all wrong.
Foote not only filled out his 7-foot frame with an added 65 pounds but also worked on his biggest liability: athleticism. The big man has added five inches to his vertical jump.
"Now I have NBA teams calling about him," Donahue mentioned, "At this point of his career he's extremely effective. Scoring the basketball inside, making good decisions."
"His skills on the inside," Amaker raved after Foote destroyed his team in the paint to tune of 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting and nine boards, "He's a great passer. I'm very fond of his game."
His passing is not only what gives his teammates open shots, it keeps defenders off him.
"Maybe their worried about me passing out of the double team," Foote said about why the Crimson were reluctant to guard him, "I pride myself on my passing."
His passing not only gave him four assists in the game, but helped his team shoot 12-for-27 behind the arc.
This has led to others outside of up state New York to see how good the Big Red are.
"(They) are an outstanding basketball team," Amaker said. "One of the better teams in the country from what I've seen."
For the past couple weeks Cornell has been knocking on the door of the Top 25. Maybe this will get them in.
"The ratings don't really matter to us," Foote said. "We want to focus on ourselves."
But the home grown talent couldn't keep it in.
"But, it would be pretty cool." He added with a big smile about being in the Top 25.
If he keeps playing like he has been, they soon will be.