2006-07 NYC Metro Preview: Columbia
2005-06 Record: 11-16 (4-10 Ivy)
Last season’s final ranking (NY Metro poll): 12th
Head Coach: Joe Jones (4th year @ CU, overall; 33-48)
Leading Returnees: Points (John Baumann-13.7 ppg); Rebounds (Baumann-6.0 rpg); Assists (Brett Loscalzo-3.1 apg)
Returning Starters: 4 (G Brett Loscalzo (Jr. 6’0, 180), G Mack Montgomery (Jr. 6’5, 195), F John Baumann (Jr. 6’8, 220), C Ben Nwachukwu (Jr. 6’9, 235))
Key Losses: G Dalen Cuff, F Dragutin Kravic
Columbia enters the 2006-07 season without a senior on its roster…and could still challenge the powers that be (Penn, Princeton) in the Ivy League for the automatic bid. Before you dismiss that statement, remember that on consecutive days in mid-February, the Lions knocked off both the Quakers and Tigers at home. Of the top seven scorers from last season, seven return, including leading scorer and rebounder John Baumann. Baumann will be joined in the paint by fellow junior Ben Nwachukwu and sophomore Jason Miller.
While the bigs will be counted on for the muscle on the inside, the Lions are loaded on the perimeter. Point guard Brett Loscalzo returns, as do Justin Armstrong, K.J. Matsui and Mack Montgomery. The guards will tell the story as to whether or not the Lions can finish near the top of the Ivy this year, since both Penn and Princeton return a wealth of performers as well. What the Lions need to work on is their play away from Levien Gymnasium, but an improvement at home in league play wouldn’t hurt either. While going 3-4 at home, Columbia struggled mightily on the road with a record of 1-6 in Ivy play.
The death knell for Columbia’s hopes of finishing at or above .500 was a five-game skid in the middle of February, with three of the losses coming at home. Turnovers were a major issue, including a high of twenty-eight in their overtime loss at Princeton last year. Poise and sound decision-making wins games, especially during league play, and an improvement can mean a top-half finish for Columbia in the Ivy League.
Schedule at a Glance
Well, the Lions will find some things out about themselves from the start, with the opener being a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on Duke in the first round of the College Basketball Experience Classic on November 12th. The next night will bring either Georgia Southern or UC-Davis. That will be followed by their in-season tournament, the Tyler Ugolyn Columbia Classic. Columbia will take on the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the opening round, moving on to face either Kennesaw State or St. Peter’s the next night. Other key games in the non-conference schedule include trips to Providence and St. John’s, and home games against the likes of LIU, Stony Brook, and Wagner. The Lions will close their non-conference schedule with a game against Marywood on January 6th.
Conference plays opens the following Friday (January 12th) with a home game against Princeton. Pennsylvania enters Levien Gymnasium the next night, so Coach Jones will have a good idea of where his team stands in the Ivy League pecking order after that weekend. Since league games are on a Friday/Saturday rotation, there are essentially four two-team groups, with Columbia’s “partner” being Cornell. Two meetings with the Big Red, a home-and-home rotation, follow the visit from the two perennial powers. The key for Columbia, given their road woes in 2005-06, will be how they navigate the two road swings in league play: Cornell-Harvard-Dartmouth (January 20th-February 3rd) and Penn-Princeton-Brown-Yale (February 16th-24th). Go 4-3 or better in these seven games, and an impressive performance at home could mean taking the Ivy League race down to the wire.
Interesting Note: Columbia’s only Ivy League title came in 1967-68, when they split the top spot with Princeton.
2005-06 Team Averages
· Points per game: 64.0 - Points per game allowed: 67.4 - Scoring Margin: -3.4
· Rebounds per game: 34.2 - Opp. Rebounds per game: 29.7 - Rebounding Margin: + 4.5
· Assists per game: 12.6 - Turnovers per game: 16.9 - Assist-to-Turnover Ratio: 0.7:1
· Field Goal Percentage: 44.2% - FG Percentage Defense: 43.6%
· 3-Point Percentage: 36.8% - 3-Point Percentage Def.: 35.4%
· Free Throw Percentage: 73.5%
· Longest winning streak: 5 (New Hampshire, Troy, @ LIU, @ Stony Brook, @ Sacred Heart) November 11th-30th
· Longest losing streak: 5 (Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, @ Brown, @ Yale) January 28th-February 10th
· After knocking off Penn, Princeton and Brown, Columbia lost their last three games of the season to lose any chance of finishing .500 in Ivy League play.