Appreciate Columbia While They’re Still Here

There’s this restaurant I used to order from in Morningside Heights that would deliver to my apartment, but sometime over the summer they stopped delivering that far south. Now after every Columbia I stop by for takeout on the way home.

Soon though that’s going to end. Because at some point there’s going to be no more basketball. And then there will be six months without anymore games. There will be offseason workouts and a coaching carousel, transfers and recruiting, but no games.

So enjoy the contests while they’re here.

Columbia sure seems to be.

The Lions surged out of the gate last night and went 16-32 from three-point range in an 86-54 rout of Norfolk State in the first round of the Tournament.

The win automatically advances Columbia to the quarterfinals thanks to the fact that the CIT only has 26 teams this season. The Lions, along with UC Irvine and UT Arlington, received byes so the tournament can get to eight teams.

And as long as Columbia keeps winning the Lions fans don’t have to face the uncertainty. They don’t have to worry about how the team will completely change once Maodo Lo, Grant Mullins, Isaac Cohen and Alex Rosenberg graduate. They don’t have to wonder what the coaching carousel will bring. They don’t even have to figure out what the heck a four-team Ivy League tournament means.

Instead they can just enjoy the games. And while the students were on break, a strong contingent came out to Levien to cheer on the Lions.

Against an overmatched opponent the Lions seemed almost relaxed. Luke Petrasek had one of his best games of the season with 18 points on 6-9 shooting, including 4-5 from three. He consistently stepped out beyond the arc and found free space and just knocked down shots.

Maodo Lo was also his usual brilliant self. The Lions senior point guard only played 26 minutes because of the comfortable margin, but he scored 16 points on 6-12 shooting and set the Lions all-time single-season three-point record with his 89th of the season. The record breaker was a crossover three at the top of the key. Vintage Lo.

Some of the other younger players also showed why the future holds promise for the Lions. Nate Hickman hit his first two threes to help bust the game open and finished with 11 points. Lukas Meisner, Kyle Castlin and Jeff Coby all played significant minutes.

Kyle Smith said after the game that considering the Lions had a 10-day break before he almost wishes they were playing in the next round (especially after how they shot on Wednesday), instead of the 7-day wait.

Those seven days though will let the Lions savor these moments just a little bit longer. Because you never know what life is going to be like next season.

Three Quick Thoughts:

1. Columbia’s defense was excellent on Wednesday night. The Lions were helped out by the fact that Norfolk State didn’t start its leading scorer, former Fordham guard Jeff Short, and shot 2-18 from three. The Lions did do a good job of not fouling, which is where NSU typically earned a lot of its points this season. Overall the Lions held the Spartans to 0.83 points per possession. It was NSU’s second worse offensive performance of the season behind only their game at Alabama.

2. The banks were open. It has to be demoralizing to play defense for the entire 30 seconds and then see your opponent bank in a three-point shot as the clock goes to zero. The Lions did that a number of times on Wednesday night. It was Hickman’s banked in three that started the barrage. Of course Lo often doesn’t need the backboard. The most impressive three might’ve been Columbia’s last, as Kendall Jackson came off the bench for the final four minutes and channeling Lo whipped out a crossover for a swished three of his own.

3. Who might Columbia play next? The CIT generally tries to match teams up by geography and the 13 teams remaining after the first round are: Grand Canyon, Jackson State, Coastal Carolina, Furman, Ball State, UT Arlington, Boston U., Columbia, New Hampshire, UT-Martin, NJIT, UC Irvine and UL Lafayette. UC Irvine, UT Arlington and Columbia have byes to the quarterfinals. NJIT is going to be hosting another game, so they’re a potential quarterfinal opponent. So are Boston U. and New Hampshire, depending on how things shake out. We’ll definitely be monitoring the situation.

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