With teams a few short weeks away from actual games, here is a collection of off-season stories to catch up on before the start of the 2018-2019 season.
The New York Knicks announced Sunday night that they have signed former Columbia forward Jeff Coby, making Coby’s Knick status official.
Ian Begley of ESPN reported Sunday that Coby and the Knicks had reached a verbal agreement prior to training camp.
Coby averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.9 minutes per game during his four seasons as a Lion, providing strong rebounding for Columbia’s 2015-16 CIT champion squad.
While Ivy Hoops fans were still processing the disturbing allegation against former Penn men’s coach Jerome Allen, the Columbia Spectator broke the surprising news that rising senior Lukas Meisner had signed a pro contract and would be forgoing his senior year in Morningside Heights. Columbia Athletics posted its own story detailing the move a few minutes later.
Meisner, originally from Braunschweig, inked a contract to go back home to Germany and play for Medi Bayreuth of the easyCredit Basketball Bundesliga. The team came in fourth place in the BBL in 2017-2018 and sixth in the German Cup. The 6′ 8″ forward started 24 of 25 games for the Lions in 2017-2018, averaging 27.5 minutes and 11.2 points per game. With his 50 percent overall and 41.7 percent three-point rates, he joined Princeton’s Myles Stephens as the only two Ivy Leaguers to shoot more than 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three last year. His 7.5 total rebounds and six defensive boards per contest were tops in the conference and he became the first Columbia player to lead the Ivy League in rebounds since Jim Tubridy in 1994-1995.
That familiar feeling was back again.
Like when Yale came back from 21 down in the second half against the Lions in 2012, the “Cannady Collapse” against Princeton last year, the entire 2013 Ivy run, and in half of the Lions’ home Ivy games already this year, a great first half was being wasted by a second-half meltdown. But like last Saturday night’s win over Harvard, the Lions steadied their nerve down the stretch and move solidly into third as their schedule turns from friendly confines to other, above-ground Ivy gyms.
At first, the game was sloppy. Then it became a rout.
Then came a furious comeback followed by something still more unexpected.
Saturday night’s Harvard-Columbia game at Levien Gym was setting up to be the stereotypical season-crushing loss we’ve seen from the Lions over and over again the past few seasons. With the Lions possessing the ball and a three-point lead with time running down, freshman point guard Mike Smith drove to the basket and missed. Jeff Coby saved the rebound to Luke Petrasek with nine seconds left, leading to him dribbling out the clock for a Lions victory heaving a 28-foot three-pointer because the shot clock was inexplicably showing two seconds. His miss was rebounded by Siyani Chambers, who put up a good look at a three-pointer to send the game to overtime. The predictable result would have been the three dropping through the net and a stunned Columbia team folding in overtime.
With the first-ever Ivy League Postseason Tournament, the regular season has focused on which teams would make it into the top four. In the preseason and the first two months of the campaign, Princeton, Yale and Harvard appeared certain to get to the Palestra for the second week of March. The first two weekends of conference play has confirmed those ideas. For most of the nonconference season, Penn seemed to take control of that fourth spot. While losing to Princeton at Jadwin Gym on the opening night of the league schedule, the Quakers showed enough on the offensive and defensive sides to justify those predictions. However, the Quakers’ two home losses this weekend showed that their path to the Palestra is uncertain and opened the fourth spot for all five lower division squads. After Saturday’s action in Philadelphia and Ithaca, Brown and Columbia took strong steps towards claiming the last spot in the top tier.
1. Princeton (8-6, 1-0)
See Toothless Tiger’s recap for game details, but the team’s 61-52 win over Penn proved they’re a resilient bunch. It’s not easy to withstand a 26-5 run from your archrival, but the Tigers did just that in the second half, hanging on with team-wide superior composure and characteristically clutch play from Devin Cannady. It was Cannady who broke the 44-44 tie following Penn’s gangbusters run and played outstanding defense alongside Myles Stephens down the stretch. Princeton’s defense is more than good enough to carry it to the league’s top slot.
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.
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.
Princeton 85, Cornell 56
That escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast. The Tigers cleaned out Cornell from wire to wire, racing out to a 33-8 lead in the first 10:20 and never looking back. Princeton shot 50 percent from the floor, anchored as usual by Henry Caruso’s 13-point, seven-rebound, two-assist, two-steal performance, with 13 additional points from Amir Bell. Freshmen Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens combined for 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting off the bench, including 3-for-4 beyond the arc from Cannady.