The men's basketball team will begin its 14-game Ivy League campaign tonight against Cornell. Despite low expectations at the beginning of the season, the Lions have managed to turn some heads, and are currently sitting at an impressive 11-6. What's the secret to their surprising success? Where do they stand in comparison to the other Ivies? Columnists Peter Andrews, Ryan Young, and Daniel Radov offer their thoughts on the Lions and the rest of the Ancient Eight.
Q: Columbia was picked to finished eighth in the preseason media poll. It’s certainly not looking that way anymore. What part of the Lions’ game has surprised you the most?
Peter: The defense—ranked in the top 30 in the country—has been really good. The Lions haven’t really been blown out once this year, and they haven’t lost a game they were “supposed” to win. I think that’s largely due to the consistent, stifling nature of the defense.
Ryan: The entire starting lineup—led lately by junior forward Alex Rosenberg—has played above expectations. I would expect teams as young as the Lions to be more volatile, but the contributions were spread out enough for them to be remarkably consistent in nonconference play.
Daniel: The balance. On a given night, three or four different players have a legitimate chance to lead the team in scoring. Sure, basketball games are not decided in the offensive end alone, but it’s impressive to watch a team with so many weapons.
- David Brann / Senior Staff Photographer
Q: Columbia finishes the regular season 10-6 against nonconference Division I opponents. What (or who) do you think has been the biggest contributor to the team’s success so far?
Peter: Luke Petrasek. I don’t think anyone thought the freshman—not a highly touted recruit—would come in and play 25 strong minutes per night. The loss of Mark Cisco and John Daniels was expected to leave a big gap in the frontcourt, but Petrasek has excelled and given the Light Blue offense a new dimension. Plus, his dunks are extremely entertaining.
Ryan: When you allow only 61.9 points per game and hit threes at a rate of 41 percent, you are going to win a lot of games. The Lions have the 15th-most treys in the nation and that is not solely due to one person. (And they recently got junior guard Steve Frankoski—a deadly three-point shooter—back from a wrist injury.)
Daniel: Rosenberg. Since he’s moved into the starting lineup, the entire team has become nearly unstoppable on the offensive end. Consider that the Lions averaged 105.9 points per 100 possessions in their first 13 games. Since Rosenberg became a starter four games ago, the Lions have averaged 115.7 points per 100 possessions—a mark that would rank 21st in all of college basketball.
Check back later for Parts II and III.
Peter Andrews is a Columbia College senior majoring in history. He is a member of Spectator’s editorial board, head manager emeritus of the Columbia University Marching Band, and a sports broadcaster for WKCR. Ryan Young is a Columbia College junior majoring in economics-statistics. He is a sports broadcaster for WKCR. Daniel Radov is a Columbia College first-year. He is a sports broadcaster for WKCR.