Columbia (73) vs. Stony Brook (66) 11/11/2016

#35 of 351

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Welcome to the start of season 3 for Operation 351. My goals this year are to complete the New England states and the New York City teams. I will also be taking trips to Chicago, Mississippi, Maryland and D.C.

I toyed with the idea of taking the ferry from Bridgeport. But the $52 fare plus the possibility of missing the last boat  dissuaded me. So I drove the 2 1/2 hours from Connecticut instead. I had my usual pre game supper and beer at the  The Bench & Bar & Grill in Stony Brook. The bar was populated with a few fans excited for the new season. They will be disappointed tonight.

Stony Brook is coming off a big season winning the America East championship last year. Tonight they unfurled the championship banner in a pre-game ceremony. Unfortunately, their excellent coach from last year Steve Pikiell took the head coaching job at Rutgers as as result of his success. Jell Boals the long time assistant at Ohio State has taken the position of head coach at Stony Brook.

Columbia also has a first year coach in Jim Engles. He  returns to Columbia after spending the past eight years as head coach for the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

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I was very impressed with the Island Federal Credit Union arena as the home of the Seawolves. The school’s recent successes fuel a strong spirit in this sleepy little Long Island town. It is reflected in this new arena and student support during the games especially the loud and raucous pep band. Although I have to mention that there were many empty seats on this opening night which surprised me.

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Columbia surprisingly dominated most of the game until Stony Brook battled back in the second half to make the game close. The big basket at the end to give Columbia a safe margin was a double pump three point shot by Columbia guard Mike Smith leaving the crowd speechless.

I have to give shout outs to two Columbia players.

Mike Smith is a 5’10” freshman from Illinois that was quicker than anyone else on the court last night. Despite his small size, he penetrated with ease and hit some mid jumpers. He had 14 points for the night. Not the typical Ivy league player, he appears ready to make a name for himself in the years to come.

Luke Petrasek is a 6’10” junior who is as comfortable shooting a 3 pointer as he is posting inside. He scored 20 points despite playing only 22 minutes. I expect that Columbia will make some noise this year in the Ivy League.

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I believe that Stony Brook will have problems this year duplicating the success of last year. While that have some good fundamental players, their lack of size and quickness will come into play during the season. Perhaps they will need time adjusting to Beal’s coaching philosophy.

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I am thankful that the college basketball season has started after the horrendous UCONN football season. Till next time….

 

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Lehigh (61) vs. Columbia (88) 11/22/2015

#18 of 351

I took the Metro North train from New Haven to Grand Central, the 7 line from Grand Central to Times Square and the 7 line uptown to 116th St. I am now in the middle of the Columbia University campus in upper Manhattan. I looked at the laminated campus map on the street searching for the Levien Gym. I see nothing on the map even though I had read that it was no more than a block from the subway stop. So I asked a passing student and learned the SECRET. The gym is labeled as the “Macellus Hartley Dodge Physical Fitness Center” where the Levien gym is one component of the center.

 

So I arrived at the game a couple of minutes after game start due to the delay of getting the subways and my search for the gym.

It was a decent crowd for a Sunday afternoon 4PM start. You had the usual stereotyped guests at an IVY league game: 1) the rich season holders dressed up in their chair-backed seats and 2) the student section always cheering with traditional chants as old as the ages.

I was impressed with two of the players. Keep an eye on Tim Kempton for Lehigh. The 6’10” center/forward has a nice three point shot coupled with tremendous agility on the inside. He made several good passes and was the high scorer for Lehigh as the only bright spot for the Mountain Hawks. (wouldn’t that make a good trivia question on Jeopardy  – the Mountain Hawks is the name for this team from Pennsylvania?).

I was also impressed with Maodo Lo (love that name) from Columbia. He is a 6’3” guard from Germany who in a small way reminded me of Jeremy Lin of Harvard. Very strong with ball and possessing a nice jumper, he stood above the rest of his Colombian teammates this night.

It is very cool to hear a lion growl after every made Columbia foul shot.

Columbia led from the start and in my opinion are the favorites to win the IVY league title. I did see Yale this year but Columbia is a taller and more balanced team.