The men's basketball team plays Haverford in its home opener tonight. The game is the first of the year for Haverford and the second for Columbia. Head coach Kyle Smith and the players said they were pleased with the team's season-opening performance on Saturday, a 68-47 win at Furman. Although the Lions were not planning on playing a Division III team this year, they were dropped by Fairleigh Dickinson and could not find a replacement opponent in Division I, and so turned to Division III.
The Lions last played a Division III team last year, beating Swarthmore 104-42.
As long as the Lions execute their game plan reasonably well, they should get a good result. You can see our three keys after the jump and follow the action on Twitter @CUSpecSports.
1. Stay out of foul trouble.
At Furman, two players fouled out and senior center Mark Cisco had four. The Lions literally have a big advantage in this game, with six forwards as tall or taller than the Fords' tallest and only four team members under 6-foot-3, compared to 11 for their opponents. But foul trouble could easily force the Light Blue into using a smaller lineup, which would, by and large, neutralize its size edge.
2. Make the easy shots.
Cisco and sophomore center Cory Osetkowski combined to go 3-14 from the field on Saturday, even though, generally, forwards take high-percentage shots. If this game is anything like last year's blowout of Swarthmore, Columbia will have plenty of open looks, both from beyond the arc and from the paint. Few teams, if any, are dominant enough to be able to afford to keep missing those easy shots (if any shot can be called easy).
3. Stay safe.
Senior Noruwa Agho was hurt in last year's home opener. The Lions can't afford to lose anyone for an extended period of time if they want to be on top of the Ivy standings less than four months from now.