Luke Petrasek, Columbia basketball player, dribbling the ball

You were supposed to be the chosen one!

Sports Editor and enthusiast, Ross Chapman, shared his insights on men’s basketball game last night. Things may not turned out the way he wished they would be. 

In sports jargon, the “goat” of the game is the player who loses the game for their team, usually at the last minute. This is usually an unfair brand – even if one player has a bad night, others have the opportunity to step up, and most games have many potential turning points. The goat, therefore, is usually a knee-jerk reaction to a close ending, and often just a scapegoat instead.

But it was hard not to feel like Luke Petrasek let his team down last night.

Petrasek, Columbia Men’s Basketball’s leader in shooting and three-point shooting, went cold for the whole night in a 67-62 loss to Cornell on Saturday. From beyond the arc, he shot 0-6, which was indicative of Columbia’s troubles shooting in all facets of the game. Columbia took 17 more shots than Cornell, thanks to offensive rebounding and 22 Cornell turnovers, but ended the game with fewer baskets. Not accounting for Freshman Guard Mike Smith, who went off this game, Columbia shot 13-47 (27.7%) and 3-16 (18.8%) from three-point distance.

In a back and forth matchup, it was Petrasek who had the opportunity to tie the game up at 65 in the final moments. After he made a lay-up to make the score 62-65 with 30 seconds remaining, Columbia’s Rodney Hunter stole the ball from Cornell’s Matt Morgan. As the Lions passed the ball around the perimeter , Petrasek was the one who took a shot from the right wing, but it came up short and was rebounded by Cornell. This came mere minutes after Petrasek missed another three that would have given the Lions the lead. Not only did the missed three-pointers account for a possible 18 points, but none of them were rebounded by the offense and turned into second-chance points.

But is it right to call Luke Petrasek a goat, when just a week ago he was the Hero in Ithaca? After a 31-point performance last Saturday, we shouldn’t necessarily expect another dominating performance. And Petrasek was not the only dim light this game for the Lions. Everyone seemed that way in comparison to Mike Smith, who has decided to shave his head for the Ivy season. The first-year fits perfectly into coach Jim Engels’ faster game plan, as he constantly drove forward to make 21 shots, often early in the possession. He was the high scorer of the game with 24, including a team-high 9 from beyond the arc.

Perhaps the most frustrated player during the game was Senior Forward Jeff Coby, who went 2-7 on the game, including some very close misses. He played for only 17 minutes and fouled out, and was very animated about his shots, much to the amusement of the “man bun”-chanting Cornell fans in attendance.

On a team that normally shoots 45% from the field, not a single player shot that well against Cornell. It’s hard to believe that this indicates a systematic problem for the Lions team. But a better team would have capitalized on Cornell’s turnovers and mistakes. Anyone predicting that Columbia would be better than Harvard, Yale, or Princeton this season is going to have to handwave this game away, and pray that Columbia never repeats this performance, even against stouter teams.

Two years ago, I wrote an article titled, “Columbia Bad, Cornell Worse In Basketball Win.” This game was another ugly one, with turnovers galore and game-wide 12-46 three-point shooting. Columbia had the opportunities near the end of the game to make their free-throws and their baskets, but they didn’t. Next weekend against Dartmouth and Harvard, we can only hope that the Lions return to form.

Photo via Columbia University Atheltics/JC Ridley