A Far Too Comprehensive and Ridiculous Columbia Season Preview, Part 2

Rookie Watch

By Peter Andrews

On paper, there isn’t much room for Columbia’s seven-man freshman class to make a difference. With a veteran rotation that goes 11-deep, it may be a “wait-and-see” year for the class of 2019. One name, though, stands out from the rest. And that name is Dirk Junior.Okay, that’s not his actual name. However, it is the official Ivy Hoops Online ™ (must credit @pfandrews and @simmonsclass) nickname for Lukas Meisner, Columbia’s newest German import.

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A Far Too Comprehensive and Ridiculous Columbia Season Preview, Part 1

Player to Watch

By Peter Andrews

Here are some sentences that I have written about Maodo Lo in the past year. (No two are from the same article.)

“On Friday night, Maodo Lo showed his class. It’s Maodo Lo’s world, and we’re just living in it … This game should serve as Maodo Lo’s coming-out party for a national audience … Every time the ball left his fingertips, the swoosh seemed a mere inevitability … He remains as cool as a cucumber … No Ivy guard can match Lo’s blazing quickness, and when combined with his dribbling skills he is a nightmare to defend … Don’t worry, Columbia fans: The greatest basketball player of all time isn’t graduating just yet.”

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Columbia Season Preview – Is This Finally “The Year”?

Last year was supposed to be “the year” for Columbia, which hasn’t won an Ivy title since 1968.

Then star forward Alex Rosenberg broke his foot two weeks before the start of the season and withdrew from school — thanks to the Ivy League’s arcane player eligibility rules. A new star emerged in guard Maodo Lo, but the Lions collapsed at the end of the season, losing their final four games and any shot at competing in the postseason.

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Columbia all-time moment No. 1: Lions defeat La Salle in NCAA Tournament

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.

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Columbia all-time moment No. 2: Jim McMillian’s third straight All-American selection

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.

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Columbia all-time moment No. 3: Columbia clinches 1968 NCAA Tourney berth

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.

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Columbia all-time moment No. 4: 1968’s 16-game win streak

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.

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Columbia all-time moment No. 5: Buck Jenkins sets single-game scoring record

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.

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