Columbia men’s basketball seeks first appearance in second Ivy Tournament

Following an early conference win against Harvard and a late February victory over Penn, the Columbia men’s basketball team was poised to secure the last spot in the inaugural Ivy Tournament. After two road losses to Brown and Yale on the season’s final weekend, the Lions missed the tournament, ending up in fifth place with a 5-9 conference record (11-16 overall).  In Jim Engles’ second season in charge, he will focus on the positives from last season and his first recruiting class to reach this year’s postseason tournament.

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Thoughts on the creation of an Ivy conference tournament: Yea or nay?

It was reported by CBS Sports last week that the Ivy League is close to creating an annual conference tournament that would be in place for the 2016-17 season, which is obviously big news since the Ivy League is the only Division I conference that still doesn’t have a conference tournament. Ivy presidents finally seem poised to go along with coaches’ wishes in setting up such a tournament, as it’s been reported that TV exposure is a motivating factor in securing a league tourney.

Eight of IHO’s writers weighed in on whether they support the creation of an annual conference tournament, and if so, where and when should it be held on a yearly basis, and how many teams should participate. Their in-depth responses after the jump:

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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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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?

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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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Columbia vs. Cornell: The pain of press row

Levien

NEW YORK – There was a moment, in the second half of Columbia’s massively disappointing loss to Cornell, where all felt hopeless. The Big Red had stretched their lead to some new high — was it 11 points? 13? — and their bench roared with jubilation after each bucket. The Columbia faithful, a sellout 2,715 people packed so tightly into Levien that the gym was approaching “call the fire marshal” status, began to grow quiet, one or two or 20 beginning to slink meekly down the bleachers and then back up onto campus, covered in a coat of gloppy wet snow.

Harvard had lost earlier in the day, as I found to my shock and glee on a random scroll through Twitter during the women’s game. (That, too, a disappointing loss for the Light Blue.) Yale had been scared senseless by Brown at home. The mantle of the Ivy League was right there for Columbia to grab, just two games into the season, in front of the largest crowd seen in Levien since before the 2010-11 season. And the Lions let it slip away.

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