Columbia Season Preview – Watermarks and Engles

What happened last year (25-10, 10-4): Columbia was expected to vie for last year’s Ivy title with Yale and Princeton, but an overtime loss at home to Princeton midseason relegated Columbia to a lower tier within the conference and a CIT appearance. Columbia made the most of the CIT, though, winning the tournament and sending off the four that roared – Isaac Cohen, Maodo Lo, Grant Mullins and Alex Rosenberg as champions. Then Kyle Smith subsequently left to coach at San Francisco, and Jim Engles from NJIT was tapped to succeed him.

What’s new: With the four that roared gone, senior forward Luke Petrasek will likely be asked to shoulder much more of the offensive burden than he did a year ago, but more on that later.

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Columbia’s defense carries Lions past Penn

Tonight’s game between Columbia and Princeton is pretty much going to determine which one-loss team will be in the best position to challenge Yale the rest of the way. (Both teams have home games remaining against the Bulldogs.)

That the Lions are even in this position at all is due to the performance of their interior defense.

No, seriously.

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Ivy Power Rankings – Feb. 2, 2016

1. Yale (13-5, 4-0 Ivy)
The Elis have been getting everything they want lately. Brandon Sherrod’s perfect streak from the floor has been well-documented, but what makes Yale so dangerous is that the production can come from anywhere. Nick Victor, the quiet glue of the team, is capable of providing critical points as he has against Princeton and Brown so far in league play, and Sam Downey ranks fifth in the nation in individual offensive rating. To beat Yale, you have to spread the Bulldogs out defensively and hope they’re not too hot on the other end of the floor. Columbia can do that, and Princeton did do that, but Yale just wasn’t cool enough to lose to the Tigers. Like last season, Yale’s biggest games down the stretch will come on the road, with six of its last eight games away from New Haven, including a season-ending showdown at Levien on Mar. 5. The time to build a cushion is now.

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Ivy Saturday roundup

Yale 79, Princeton 75

When you’re hot, you’re hot, and Yale was just that. Yale’s starters shot 54.9 percent from the floor and 61.1 percent from three-point range, and the Elis needed pretty much all of those shots to fall to get by the Tigers, who never folded, cutting into what was a 10-point lead with 3:58 left to play to keep Bulldog fans nervous until the end. In fact, superior shooting was the only thing that separated the Elis from Princeton for much of the game. The Tigers lost despite scoring 43 points in the second half, scoring 19 points off turnovers versus Yale’s nine, outscoring the Bulldogs’ bench 24-3 and making the same number of treys as the Elis (11). Princeton’s ability to keep Yale off the offensive boards for the entire half was impressive as well.

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A Far Too Comprehensive and Ridiculous Columbia Season Preview, Part 3

Best Case Scenario

By Miles Johnson

In November in the year of our Lord 2016, students, alums and fresh-faced future Lions will pack into Levien Gymnasium. As fans of all ages watch Kendall Jackson rack up triple-doubles, or Jeff Coby slam home put-back dunks, or even a transformed Chris McComber knock down 30-foot threes—as a wistful Cory Osetkowski watches from afar—one can notice Kyle Smith pace nervously on the sidelines. Then, a strange calm takes hold, and he tilts his head up toward the rafters and smiles.

“2015-16 NCAA National Champions – Columbia Lions.”

Read moreA Far Too Comprehensive and Ridiculous Columbia Season Preview, Part 3

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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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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Columbia Weekend Recap: Hosting Yale and Brown

NEW YORK – On Friday night, Maodo Lo showed his class.

Unfortunately, the rest of his teammates didn’t show up until Saturday.

The Columbia Lions fell to Yale in a heartbreaker, 63-59, on Friday night, as Lo put up 20 points on 6-for-8 shooting from long range but didn’t get much help from the rest of the squad. The full team came to play on Saturday, using a late 22-4 run to blow the Brown Bears out of the building, 86-65. It was Columbia’s largest margin of win in Ivy play in 11 years, but that’s little consolation for the disappointing loss on Friday night.

After four games, the Lions are 2-2 in Ivy play.

Let’s run through some of the major observations of the weekend…

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What's your Ivy team's New Year's resolution?

New YearIt’s New Year’s Eve, and that means New Year’s resolutions abound. If the Ivies could have one doable New Year’s resolution each, here’s what they would be, along with the likelihood of each team making good on that resolution (Ivy power rankings included).

8. Penn (3-7)Get the freshmen substantially more minutes

Sam Jones is averaging 6.1 points in just 15.1 minutes per game so far this season and has proven himself to be the kind of sharpshooting threat Penn has been missing for a long time, shooting an eye-popping 45.9 percent from beyond the arc. Yet Jones logged just 10 minutes at La Salle last night. He must be in coach Jerome Allen’s doghouse, but he has to play more regardless.

Meanwhile, now that Mike Auger’s back from a foot injury, he has to play more too. He’s just seventh on the team in minutes per game despite being second in rebounds and third in points per contest. Freshman guard Antonio Woods is actually logging more minutes than anybody due to junior guard Tony Hicks’ chronic foul trouble, but he’s just one of many frosh that will have to pick up the slack if Penn is to make a run at the top half of the conference.

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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