Junior All-Ivy forward Ryan Wittman had more than students and local fans in attendance supporting him during this past weekend’s games at Newman Arena; his Dad joined the cheering fans in the stands. The elder Wittman, a former coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and standout at Indiana University during his college years, shared his thoughts on his son and Cornell Basketball following Saturday night’s 64-36 win over Yale.
Harrison Sanford: How does it feel to get to watch your son in person?
Randy Wittman: It feels good. I hate it because I’m not very good watcher with my background in coaching. I’d much rather coach than sit in the stands. It’s an opportunity for me that I haven’t had even through his high school days being a professional coach; our schedules didn’t match, so this has been fun.
So what was your reaction when he went down early in the game?
I was a little concerned because even when he goes down, he usually gets back up and tries to play it off. Scared me a little bit but he is a tough kid.
How special was it to see your son play at your alma mater, Indiana University, earlier this season?
That was truly a gift that it happened. I haven’t gone back to Assembly Hall [before the game] in 20-something years. To finally go back to a place where I had a lot of dreams, a championship banner … and then for him to have his career high there, until that point … it was really special.
Do you talk to him after games?
Yeah, yeah, I try to … still a coach … He probably gets tired of me. [Laughing] He’s been good. I haven’t been able to see up front but with the Internet, I get to see every game, even when I was coaching. You know, it’s not a lot of things that I tell him, he is a bright kid and has good understanding. So I just try to help him as much as I can.
It seems as if Ryan has definitely improved this year, what do you think of his overall game?
Well, he has to continue to add things to his game. That’s what good players do. He came into this league as a shooter and people figured it out, so he has to continue to add to his game off the dribble. I think he is a good passer, makes good decisions. It’s not about scoring, it’s about facilitating and making other players better and that’s what he will continue to try to do.
What are your plans on watching your son play for the rest of the year?
Well, I’m going to try to get to Penn and Princeton next weekend and get back here the weekend after that. So, I will try to fix my schedule here so I can see him as much as I can.
Do you speak to Coach Donahue about strategy, things you might see on the court?
We talk a little basketball. It’s not so much what he is doing with his team but philosophy, what would you do in this situation … I understand the complexity of having a program and running it the way its supposed to be run.
Right now, who wins one-on-one?
Oh, he still can’t beat me. I’ll only give him one or two but if he can dribble it three or four times, he can beat me.
[img_assist|nid=34721|title=Like dad|desc=Junior forward Ryan Wittman (20) comes from a basketball-heavy family.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]