The women's basketball team (4-14, 1-3 Ivy) has its work cut out this weekend. Columbia will take on two of the best teams in the Ivy League, Princeton (11-6, 2-1 Ivy) and Penn (12-5, 2-1 Ivy), in a pair of home contests.
Although the Tigers and the Quakers sit alongside three other teams at the top of the standings with one conference loss, they both have distinguished themselves as top contenders through consistently solid play. Princeton boasts the Ancient Eight's best scoring offense, while Penn's defense is the best in the conference.
“Their programs are far ahead of ours in their development right now. That means that player-for-player, we'll see a lot of mismatches. That's the reality of it,” Light Blue head coach Stephanie Glance said.
The Lions will first face four-time defending champion Princeton on Friday. Columbia's losses to the Tigers last year were both very ugly. The Light Blue fell to the Tigers 87-41 at home and then suffered a 98-36 loss at Princeton.
This season, the Tigers once again boast a balanced, relentless offensive attack that utilizes athleticism and scoring ability at every position.
“They have a lot of scoring weapons,” Glance said. “When you have a team with a lot of scoring weapons and they have been as consistent as they have, you can see that they're talented.”
In order to counter the Tiger offensive proficiency, Glance said that the Lions will have to show hustle and poise on the defensive end early.
“For us, we need to get some early stops. Then, we need to be able to go down and score ourselves,” she said. “And scoring is the thing you don't know from game to game. You have the chance to get early stops. We can control that a little bit more than we can control our offensive efficiency.”
Following Princeton, the Lions will take on Penn in Saturday night's Play 4Kay contest, which aims to raise money and awareness for breast cancer.
After taking some significant strides last season, Penn added a formidable force in the post in first-year center Sydney Stipanovich. Stipanovich leads the league in offensive rebounding as well as blocked shots. Glance acknowledged the threat Stipanovich poses, but said that the Quakers' ability to execute as a unit makes them particularly dangerous.
“She's a really good player. She's long, and she can affect peoples' shots,” Glance said. “She certainly came in and added to the arsenal, but in my mind, they showed last year that they could win, and they could be competitive at a much higher level.”
It will be difficult for Columbia to come away with even one win this weekend. But for Glance, success isn't necessarily determined solely by the number in the win column.
“What I want to see us do is really compete and play with a competitive spirit and to execute better on the small things,” she said. “We have to control the things that we can control.”
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