Columbia all-time moment No. 6: Buck Jenkins named ’93 POY, sets school 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 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.

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Columbia all-time moment No. 7: Maodo Lo’s CIT buzzer-beater

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 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.

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Columbia all-time moment No. 8: Eleven threes for the Chairman

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 no Ivy mascot is cuddlier than Roar-ee. Especially not the creepy Quaker guy.

Some nights, you have the feeling you’re going to see something special.

The night of March 7, 2015, five seconds before tip-off, I sat down next to Toothless Tiger on Jadwin Gym’s press row. The first words out of my mouth?

“I think Maodo goes for 40 tonight.”

As it turned out, this prediction was wildly inaccurate.

He only scored 37.

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Columbia all-time moment No. 9: Craig Austin’s POY campaign

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.

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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.

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Maodo Lo not declaring for NBA Draft

Maodo Lo
Maodo Lo”s not going anywhere. (AP Photo)

Don”t worry, Columbia fans: the greatest basketball player of all time isn”t graduating just yet.

Okay, that”s hyperbole from a Columbia fan. But you can”t deny that “Chairman” Maodo Lo was one of the Ivy League”s best players in the 2014-15 campaign. And, despite rumors out of German media that Lo was declaring for the 2015 NBA draft, the junior guard made it clear on Thursday that he”ll be wearing Columbia blue next year.

“He did go through some preliminary discussions, with the help of coach (Kyle) Smith, to see what his potential pro prospects are, but he had every intention on coming back,” Columbia Sports Information Associate Director Mike Kowalsky said. “They were just doing their due diligence.”

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ALL FOOLS’ DAY: Kyle Smith reminds us that Columbia played Kentucky close for a while

Kyle Smith reminded reporters Wednesday that Columbia jumped out to a 11-0 lead at still-undefeated Kentucky at Rupp Arena and led for nearly 27 minutes before losing to the Wildcats, 56-46.

“Hey, do you guys remember that game?” Smith said. “That was awesome, right? 11-0!”

Smith also let slip that the Lions will play at Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke and Wisconsin.

“I promise you, we will play our hearts out in those games come next season,” Smith said. “And we’ll make everybody forget about finishing 5-9 in conference play this year.”

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ALL FOOLS’ DAY: Entire Columbia roster withdraws from school, will return in 2016-17

If you can’t beat them, join them. If you can’t join them, run away and see if you can beat them next year. This is the lesson that the Columbia Lions have learned, as the entire team has withdrawn from school, saving each a year of eligibility and casting focus to the 2016-17 season.

The Light Blue will effectively dodge a a solid Princeton squad, an experienced Yale team with Justin Sears in his senior year, defending champion Harvard with the ever-problematic Siyani Chambers in his final year, and will no longer have to suffer at the hands of Dartmouth’s Alex Mitola, something Columbia coach Kyle Smith will not take lightly.

“Look, there comes a point at which you have to do what’s best for your team,” Smith said. “Plus, it’s not like we’re going to do any worse than the football team! Am I right? Guys?”

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One injury too many for Columbia

In the Ivy game I’m sure you all were watching on Friday night, Columbia put out a horribly uninspired performance in the Palestra, falling to Penn 54-46. The Lions scored just nine points in a nightmarish first half, knocking down just three of the 20 shots they put in the air.

Sitting on the bench, watching three after three clang off the rim (or, in Cory Osetkowski’s case, miss everything entirely), Steve Frankoski sat, unusually quiet, with a large brace on his right ankle.

Frankoski’s playing time on this team has fluctuated over the course of the season, but he started to come on down the stretch. The senior picked up his first start in Columbia’s rout of Brown, and scored six points in the first three minutes the next night at Yale.

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A road sweep for Columbia breaks a seven-year streak

With nine seconds left, Kyle Castlin was suddenly all by himself.

Isaac Cohen had flung a floating touch pass, a perfectly weighted through ball that would make the likes of Mesut Ozil proud, over the pressing defense of the desperate Yale Bulldogs. Castlin, breaking away from his man, hauled in the pass in stride, nothing but an empty basket ahead of him.

The freshman rose up and put down a two-handed slam, sending a disappointed crowd of 1,900 out into snowy New Haven. The small clique of Lions fans behind the bench went nuts as Kyle Smith let out a celebratory fist pump, Castlin’s dunk providing the exclamation point on a weekend to remember for Columbia.

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