To call Alex Rosenberg’s buzzer-beating pull-up elbow jumper to win Saturday night’s Columbia vs. Harvard game “redemption,” as many have been doing on social media, is odd to me. It is of course a callback to the end of the Columbia vs. Harvard game at Levien on Valentine’s Day 2014, when Rosenberg hit what would have been a game-winner against the Crimson but was called for an offensive foul, an extremely controversial (read: bad) call that ended up cratering Columbia’s hopes of competing for an Ivy title. To call Saturday night’s shot “redemption” implies that Rosenberg did something wrong to cost Columbia in that game two years ago, which is unfair to him. Saturday night’s shot marked the completion of two comebacks: Columbia’s from down 20 in the first half, and Rosenberg’s from a pair of injuries which cost him all of last season and part of this one. To talk about one without the other renders the story incomplete.
NEW YORK – Two minutes into Columbia’s final game before a brief Thanksgiving break, coach Kyle Smith’s face was redder than cranberry sauce. His team had turned it over on four straight possessions to start the game, the Lions couldn’t stop Wofford from stuffing the ball through the net and were generally playing like turkeys.
So Smith went to his bench and called upon junior forward Jeff Coby and sophomore guard Nate Hickman, the duo that helped turn the game from an 11-3 deficit into a 70-59 win for the Lions at Levien. Hickman hit a three-pointer on his first touch to get the crowd back into the game, and then it was time for the Isaac Cohen/Jeff Coby show. On three straight possessions, the Cohen to Coby combination resulted in layups for the big man and the Lions were back in it. Cohen said he just wanted to be aggressive early in the game, and noticed that Wofford was playing off him which presumably helped open up passing lanes for the senior swingman.
We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. We did Columbia next because in 1968, a little light blue went a long way.
Today we celebrate the best moment in Columbia’s basketball history by celebrating the farthest the team has gone in NCAA Tournament play, as well as one more big win for the school’s best squad of the modern era.
We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Columbia is next because you don’t mess around with Jim.
The man behind the best prolonged stretch of basketball in Columbia history receives his own honor in our countdown.
There are individual moments in Jim McMillian’s career one could point to, such as his 37-point effort against Princeton in 1968’s playoff, but nothing single-handedly sums up his career better than his postseason accolades. Since freshmen could not play varsity NCAA basketball, McMillian’s three-year run from 1967-68 through 1969-70 is unequaled in Columbia history and is unlikely to be repeated by anyone going forward. McMillian led Columbia to an incredible 63-14 record in his tenure, including the 1968 Ivy title and 20-4 and 20-5 records the next two years, finishing second in the league. Had the landscape of NCAA basketball looked in the late 1960s as it does today, McMillian likely would have had more than just one postseason opportunity as the Lions were ranked in the top 20 at points in each of his last two season with nothing to show for it. Nonetheless, his career on the court is unparalleled in Lions history.
We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Columbia is next because the Dave Newmark did Willis Reed in NYC before Willis Reed did Willis Reed in NYC.
The best season in Columbia basketball history was in jeopardy. Despite a 16-game win streak and a dominating stretch in Ivy play, the Lions had to face a Princeton Tigers team which just defeated them by 11 points. The winner would be the Ivy representative in the 23-team NCAA Tournament, the loser would be unlikely to make the NIT. For a Columbia team sitting at 20-4, anything less than a title would have been an extraordinary disappointment, even to be taken down by a Princeton squad who was 20-5 and started the preseason ranked No. 8 in the nation.
We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Columbia is next because 1968 was a good year to wear Light Blue.
The rest of Columbia’s top moments all revolve around the incredible 1968 team in some way. Today’s entry is the 16-game win streak that propelled the Lions to national relevance and ultimately put them in position to play and win a one-game playoff to reach the NCAA Tournament.
The team did not get off to a very good start, which is odd considering the talent on the squad and where it would end up by March. The team won its first four games but then immediately dropped three in a row, including getting blown out in the Ivy opener against Cornell in Ithaca. It would not get easier for the Lions, as their next matchups would be in the prestigious Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. The Lions would face three top opponents in quick succession at a tournament in which Bill Bradley and Cazzie Russell among others had made their mark on the national stage with strong performances.
We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Columbia is next because why pass the buck when you can pass to the Buck?
We have back-to-back Buck Jenkins moments on the countdown! The most prolific point scorer in Columbia history has not just the all-time scoring record as we mentioned last week but set the Lions’ single game scoring record with 47 points as a sophomore on Feb. 15, 1991, a record which stands to this day. As the Lions defeated Harvard, 92-77, Jenkins accounted for more than half the team’s points and just barely broke Chet Forte’s record of 45 points in a game in the process. On the evening Jenkins went 15-for-23 from inside the arc, 17-for-21 at the line, and incredibly did not attempt a three-point shot, despite the line being a foot closer than it is today at the college level. Jenkins was one of two players to score more than 40 points in 1991 without attempting a three-pointer. The other? LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal.
We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Columbia is next because the Buck stops here…
If he is not the best player to ever suit up for the Columbia Lions men’s basketball team, Leonard “Buck” Jenkins is certainly in the discussion. Jenkins culminated his Lions career as the school’s all-time leading scorer, a mark which still stands more than 20 years later. Before stepping on the floor at Levien Gymnasium for the first time, Jenkins was already known as the all-time leading scorer at Woodbridge High School. He led the Lions in scoring from his sophomore through his senior season, the last of which culminated in Columbia basketball’s first ever Ivy Player of the Year Award in 1993 (the honor was first bestowed in 1975), splitting the award with Jerome Allen from Penn’s 14-0 squad. That year, Jenkins led the Lions to a 15-10 overall record and a 10-4 mark in Ivy play, including a 4-0 start. Columbia finished second behind Penn that year, the team has not won more than eight games or finished higher than third in any season since. This certainly would have been a postseason team had the NCAA landscape looked in 1993 as it does in 2015 and Jenkins was the key reason why.
We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Columbia is next because CIT stands for Columbia Is Theatrics.
The CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament is the newest and least prestigious of college basketball’s postseason offerings. The tournament is designed to give schools from one or two-bid leagues the opportunity to experience postseason play, and the Ivy League has been a feeder to the CIT since its 2009 inception. Columbia’s first postseason appearance since 1968’s great run began with a bang in Valparaiso, Indiana. While Valpo basketball is best known for Bryce Drew’s buzzer beater in March, the Chairman was about to deliver one of his own.
We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Columbia is next because powder blue is a beautiful color.
The 2000-01 season was not a great one for Columbia basketball as a team, but for Craig Austin, it was one to remember. The junior small forward became the only Columbia player to win sole possession of the Ivy Player of the Year award. (Buck Jenkins shared the award with Jerome Allen in 1993, the award was given out for the first time in 1975.) The Lions were perfectly mediocre in Ivy play, finishing tied for fourth place at 7-7. But Austin’s numbers stood out far and beyond his competitors in league play, especially down the stretch. Austin averaged 18.4 points per game on the season, the only Lion to average double figures, and nearly doubled the point total of the next highest scorer on the team.