This was a momentous weekend for Ivy League basketball. First-place Princeton ran its winning streak to 13 games (10 in Ivy competition) in dominant fashion. Penn, meanwhile, snagged the No. 4 slot in the Ivy standings, erasing a Columbia four-game lead over the Red and Blue in the standings in just nine days courtesy of an equally dominant road sweep of Brown and Yale, a watermark back-to-back sequence for a long dormant program.
At the midway(ish) point of Ivy play, Columbia stands at 4-2, good enough for third place when factoring in its win over Harvard.
This weekend, the Lions experience their first full Ivy road weekend of the season, beginning with a Penn squad desperate for its first Ivy win and a tilt at first-place Princeton, hoping to avoid their first loss. With all of that in mind, I spoke with Columbia coach Jim Engles this week to talk about the weekend ahead and the adjustments the team has made and still needs to make this season.
Ivy Hoops Online: With Penn winless and Princeton undefeated, how hard is it to keep the players from overlooking Penn and just focusing on the Saturday game?
With the first full Ivy weekend in the books, the conference standings are rounding into shape. The current standings offer a clear top four building momentum toward the first ever Ivy men’s basketball tournament and a clear bottom four looking for a second wind.
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.
Our Ivy weekend roundup features a raucous rematch, some Red and Crimson splitting, a No. 4 stepping to the fore and late-game strategy deja vu.
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.