Columbia all-time moment No. 10: Columbia 11, Kentucky 0

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 Chairman is in.

In news that should surprise no one, our countdown of the top 10 moments in Columbia basketball history begins with a loss. It was a game that all basketball fans had written off as a Lions loss from the second the fixture was announced, as their opponent was expected not just to be one of the best college basketball teams in 2014-15, but in the history of the sport. Coming off a national championship appearance in 2014, Kentucky was preseason No. 1 and would ultimately feature six NBA Draft picks, including four in the lottery and the number one overall pick in Karl-Anthony Towns. Since taking over for Joe Jones, Kyle Smith has made a habit of scheduling challenge games against major conference opponents like Michigan State, St. John’s and Villanova, so putting Kentucky on the slate in a game nationally televised on ESPN2 was not a surprise.

Columbia’s hot start in Rupp Arena, however, was stunning.

Read moreColumbia all-time moment No. 10: Columbia 11, Kentucky 0

2014-15 IHO Tweets of the Year

The end of the season is finally upon us and almost all of the postseason awards have been handed out, both by the league and, far more importantly, on this website. The Player of the Year and All-IHO first and second-teams have received their due, but what about those who have contributed in other ways, meaning those who have specifically contributed 140 characters at a time?

Yes, it is finally time to reveal the Ivy League Tweets of the Year. The format chosen by our esteemed panel of judges (myself, Mike Tony and Peter Andrews) is one tweet by a player or about each team, then superlatives at the end. Without any further ado, let’s get to the tweets!

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How to represent the Ancient Eight

With the impending Harvard/Yale playoff on Saturday at the Palestra, we are bound to hear even more in the coming days about how the Ivy League is the one conference that stands alone in lacking a conference tournament. Proponents of the current system argue that it guarantees that the best team represents the league following the double-round robin, while proponents of a playoff argue that it will better position the league to get an elusive second team into the big dance (#2bidivy!) and allow teams to fight their way into the tournament despite not being one of the best.

The problems facing the implementation of a playoff are numerous, most notably the staunch opposition of many on the administrative side as well as fans who believe in the league’s tradition as the most virtuous of all virtues.

Read moreHow to represent the Ancient Eight

Rosenberg = Durant: On evolving expectations

Kevin Durant

Results are not the driving factor in fan happiness. Results in relation to expectations are.

For example, many Sixers fans are incredibly optimistic about the future despite the team’s putrid results on the court for a second straight year because they understand the front office’s plan and see a light at the end of the tunnel. Oklahoma City Thunder fans expected their team to compete for a championship before the season, but everything changed once Kevin Durant suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot and Russell Westbrook broke his hand on opening night. At 29-25, the Thunder are finally healthy and have an opportunity to reach the lofty goal but will face an uphill battle come playoff time. As a fan of the team, it would be understandable if a full-strength Thunder team got knocked out by the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. Had you told me this was the likely scenario in August, I would have been irate.

All of this brings me to the constantly shifting expectations and the ensuing questions raised by the 2014-15 Columbia Lions.

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The test is yet to come for Columbia

Maodo Lo 4
Maodo Lo notched 16 points in Columbia’s 83-56 rout of the Quakers Saturday night.

NEW YORK – Last night had the feeling of a bigger game than it actually was. Levien Gymnasium was sold out and deafening as Columbia rained down three-pointers against an easily relenting Penn defense. Press row was as packed as I have seen it since Columbia played against Harvard the last few years or Cornell in 2010 –  as in, against teams that went on to win the Ivy League, not one looking to avoid the cellar. Columbia could not have drawn up a better game, and every adjustment Penn attempted was met with a barrage of Lions three-pointers that actually went in, unlike in their previous struggles in their home gym. Unfortunately for Columbia this led to an all too common refrain from their fans: Where has this been the last two weeks?

Read moreThe test is yet to come for Columbia

The good, the bad & the ugly: Columbia 48, Cornell 45

THE GOOD: Null.

By any objective standards, this was a horrific basketball game. Columbia averaged a whopping 0.76 points per possession and Cornell kept pace at 0.71. Despite never leading in the game, Cornell had a great shot to win given a flurry of Columbia miscues down the stretch (see below). Columbia turned the ball over 23 times, Cornell shot 25.9 percent from the field as a team, and everyone on both sides likely wants to focus all of their attention towards Saturday’s rematch in Morningside Heights rather than the game tape of yesterday’s “masterpiece.”

Read moreThe good, the bad & the ugly: Columbia 48, Cornell 45

Whimsy: An Ivy transfer window

(thesportsquotient.com)
(thesportsquotient.com)

Much in the way that the frenzy around MLB’s winter meetings and the NBA’s star players hitting free agency captivate fans as much as or more than regular season games, so too do the machinations of the summer and winter transfer windows in soccer. As the winter transfer window opens on Thursday, I thought about an alternate reality where the NCAA also had a transfer window to deal with in between the fall and spring semesters. While English teams are roughly halfway through their round-robin season when the window opens, Ivy basketball teams have nearly completed their nonconference schedule and will have an opportunity to correct weaknesses, address injuries, or move the focus completely towards next year without worrying about getting relegated.

Along with IHO resident soccer expert Peter Andrews, I thought up moves each team could make in this hypothetical, never could, would or should happen situation. We will also be ignoring that in reality, Duke, Kansas or Kentucky would buy up all of the good players anyway.

BROWN: LOANS Kendall Jackson from Columbia and Andre Chatfield from Harvard No Bear averages more than 3.5 assists per game and no starter has an assist/turnover ratio better than 1.1. Thus, the Bears bring in two guards buried on their respective team’s depth charts in the hopes that one sticks as the ball handler of the future and a permanent transfer can be worked out after the season.

COLUMBIA: BUYS Gabas Maldunas from Dartmouth. Columbia remains weakest in the frontcourt, where Cory Osetkowski has put together an inconsistent campaign in scoring and on the glass. They”d pay a hefty transfer fee to pry Gabas Maldunas away from Dartmouth, a team going nowhere fast this year. Maldunas would instantly upgrade the post presence for Columbia. In addition to cash, the Lions would send monstrously tall center Conor Voss on a loan to Dartmouth, in the hopes that some regular playing time will reveal basketball skills.

Read moreWhimsy: An Ivy transfer window

Columbia is playing Uglyball – and it’s working

Kyle Smith's Uglyball approach is paying dividends for the Light Blue. (Columbia Athletics)
Kyle Smith’s Uglyball approach is paying dividends for the Light Blue. (Columbia Athletics)

What is the most memorable basketball offense of all time? Chances are your mind just jumped to memories of the Showtime Lakers, the Seven Seconds or Less Suns, the Stockton and Malone pick and roll, or the present-day Spurs. Visions of great ball movement, transition dunks and helpless defenders are probably dancing through your head like sugarplums at this very second.

The offense Kyle Smith and the 2014-15 Columbia Lions are running more resembles the Four Corners offense which, while ultimately leading to many victories, sucked the life out of the game and ultimately led to the implementation of the shot clock. Despite playing at this snail’s pace, only four teams in the NCAA have attempted a higher percentage of three-pointers than the Lions. This combination of a slow tempo and an absurdly high percentage of threes taken has created a painful-to-watch offense that is the key to Columbia’s season.

Read moreColumbia is playing Uglyball – and it’s working