Columbia loses to Fordham, Bwog has a great time anyway

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Basketball season is upon us! Bwog general assignment reporter CML reports on the sensational season opener. 

Figure 1What with the unlikely regression of the football team from last year’s record, hopes for the basketball team were high heading into last night’s opener.  Some expert analysts* even forecast the Lions as having a fighting chance to win the Ivy League this year.  We returned everyone important.  We run the kind of methodical and balanced offense that flusters teams better than us.  We play inspired and tenacious D.  So why not Columbia?  That question fell to our crosstown archnemesis Fordham, whose football team already eviscerated ours earlier this year.

Fordham, which plays in the eminently respectable and oft-underrated Atlantic 10 conference, was favored by a large margin coming into the game.  Blithely unaware of this, I arrived with companion Justin Vlasits a few minutes prior to tipoff, operating under the assumption that we had a decent chance of winning.  Strolling past a diverse mixture of fans (Fig. 1) and situating ourselves in the middle of the student section, we were soon joined by a wayward and middle-aged Fordham fan who was evidently unable to locate the writhing mass of Rams advocates at the opposite end of Levien.  Soon the game started, Light Blue against Communion Wine Crimson.  For the first few minutes neither team did anything to disprove my assumption, but I soon began to see what an uphill struggle it was going to be for the Lions. Shots – particularly those attempted by F John Baumann – weren’t falling, and Fordham’s superior size allowed it to command the boards, score multiple times off second chances, and shut down a vital facet of Columbia‘s offense by dominating interior presence C Ben Nwachukwu.  The Lions’ usually strong perimeter defense was unable to neutralize the outside game, and the Rams rained destruction from behind the three-point arc.

figure 2Soon we tired of the Fordham missionary’s enemy cheering and moved down to the second row of the student section, where a throng of raucous fans was attempting to neutralize the bad vibes propagating from the Rams’ rooting section.  Fordham’s second of seven trifectas in the first half put it ahead 12-7, which was as close as Columbia would get for the rest of the game.  Before I knew it, the half was over.  Columbia had accumulated a meager 26 points to Fordham’s 43.  I observed that this was not only half as many points as Duke piled on Columbia in last year’s opener, it was exactly how many points Columbia scored in that affair.

Halftime ended, and the Lions began to adjust to Fordham’s assertive style of play.  All in all the Lions matched the Rams step by step throughout the second half, being outscored a mere 36-35.  As the game’s inevitable outcome became more and more evident, the crowd got more and more into it, at least by Columbia standards.  The clock continued to wind down and the deficit stayed where it was, but it hardly felt like we were losing by 20 to our ‘rivals.’  Junior F Joe Bova, who was badass enough to return to Division I basketball after breaking his back a couple years ago, made a few inspirational plays. 
figure 3Sophomore G Patrick Foley showed us his sweet shot.  Levien was charged with the intensity of a high school gym.  Everyone – including the Rams fans, sadly – was having a good time as the clock expired and the scoreboard proclaimed a 79-61 Fordham victory.  Someone suggested a chant of “safety school,” which seemed unnecessarily flattering, especially when there were so many little things to cheer about already. 

Bottom line: the Lions lost to a team from a mid-major conference that they were supposed to lose to.  In spite of being outmatched in almost every way, we were only outscored by 1 for the last 20 minutes.  The bench was productive, the defense and offense adequate against a better team when they finally clicked. 

Near the beginning of the game my old floormate Ben turned to our row and asked: “Is it just me, or is Fordham completely athletically superior?”  Replied my other former floormate Matt: “It’s tough to play against teams that give out scholarships.”  This begs the question: what does this portend for our games against Penn?  And Harvard, Yale and Princeton?  Conference play is over two months away.  For now, stay tuned for a
figure 4non-conference schedule that includes doormat Delaware State and perennial powerhouse Villanova. 

The sordid details of the game can be found here.

            *My friend at Yale who cares too much about Ivy League sports.



  1. sigh  

    I can't take it anymore. Please no more game reports until we win one.

    Btw, 79-61 doesn't sound all that miserable to me.

    And in my next tangent, what the fuck is up with Public Safety's ridiculously bizarre "don't drink alcohol, you'll miss the winning shot" posters?

  2. Not Roar-ee

    Why did they hold midnight mania literally hours before the opening game? Can the athletics department do anything right at this school? You hold midnight mania with the rest of the fucking country, being the first minute allowed by the NCAA for organized practice. That's why it's called midnight mania. Not let's stay out all night partying before the first game against an Atlantic-10 team manina.

    The team should have been in bed sleeping and preparing for today's game instead of staying out all night at an Athletics Department sponsored function. They looked dead out there, especially during the first half -- on a televised game no less. I'm sure the alumni are thrilled.

  3. hmm

    OK, so the dozing old guy in the first picture? He's at every game. When he's not trying to start a crowd chant, he's busy ignoring the one going on and chanting off beat.

    Also, why does it like just a bunch of elementary school kids in that picture?

    Substantive Comments: The knock on Joe Jones's teams the last few years has been sloppy hacking defense. Fordham dropped 56% from the field and got 9 more shots from the charity stripe than we did. Their abysmal FT% is the only reason we didn't lose by over 20.

    I'm very excited about this season and team, but I'd like to see us go toe to toe with legit teams (as opposed to some of the borderline programs that Jones schedules in the fall) and play defense without handing out free passes to the foul line.

    • #3 cont.

      to drive home my point, the game was 14-11 midway through the first half. at that point Fordham went on a 17-1 run. That's the margin of difference in the game right there. you can't allow that to happen if we're gonna be serious in the league.

  4. face saver

    In other news, Harvard got embarrassed 111-56 by Stanford.

  5. cbball diehard

    fordham is a legit a-10 sleeper this year

    this wasn't a surprising or bad result

    and the A-10 isn't traditionally underrated--it sucked last year adn hasn't been that great since camby left umass

    however, this year they have a bunch of possibly tourney worthy squads

    either way, people should have high hopes for this columbia team

  6. CML  

    The A-10 hasn't been great the last few years, but analysts have found it suckier than it actually has been. St. Joes in 2004 and Xavier in 2006 and 2007 come to mind.

    • the thing

      about the A-10 is that they're usually a league that has good teams which depend upon individual talent. Since those umass teams fronted by camby and since 2000 they have had some great talent -- jameer nelson/delonte west, david west, chalmers, mardy collins, the GW FF run guys and because of that they've had some nice runs but they're correctly looked upon as c-usa's little brother...this year however they have a bunch of tourney contenders..dayton led by roberts is a legit contender. the rams have tons of experience. xavier's top 25 caliber, st joe's, duquesne and the bilikens are probably post season teams..finally fordham is senior laden and underrated imo

      that's said they're probably 8/9 in terms of conf strength and its good to see columbia schedule them as opposed to the true mid majors that most ivies schedule this early

      as for poster #9, fordham starts 5 seniors including stout and dunston---two top 15/20 a-10 players

      This loss isn't that bad and was a good schedule addition

  7. hatetosayitbut...  

    Does anybody else get the sense that Joe Jones is a great recruiter but not a great coach? This being Columbia, I know it's a miracle if we can get some half-decent talent, especially given the history of the basketball program, so I'm not asking for his head. I do, however, think the team underperforms under him. Even if last year was a landmark success going .500 in the ivy, I thought the talent could have produced better results, particularly because a number of last year's league losses came in games that the team led at the half. As for last night's game, a top team in the Ivy league would be able to roll with Fordham for 40 minutes, not just the second twenty. Fordham is definitely more athletic than Columbia but what happened to smart, patient basketball (a la Princeton or Penn) putting up a fight against athletically superior lineups? Last night was a sloppy embarrassment--there is no reason to sugar coat it. I supremely hope they were just getting the cobwebs out because--I hate to say it--this is probably the best chance we'll ever get at a title.

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