With students filing back into Ithaca for the start of the spring semester this weekend, the men’s basketball team opens its home Ivy season with a rematch against its travel partner, Columbia (10-4, 1-0 Ivy) tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Newman Arena. The Red (5-9, 0-1 Ivy) dropped its first conference game to the Lions 70-61 last Saturday, and compiled a 4-5 record since the end of fall classes. While the Red has had a week to prepare for this game, head coach Steve Donahue does not anticipate any major changes to the game plan from last week.
“I think we learned a few things about what [Columbia does] and how to make adjustments,” Donahue said. “In all honesty, in these games, people think you can make a drastic change in what you do, and they’ll be some little things that we’re going to try to do on each individual guy who hurt us.”
One of those players who especially hurt the Red last week was Jeremiah Boswell, who netted 14 points and was one of three Lions in double figures. After a back-and-forth first half, the Red scored six straight points in the final two minutes of the half to grab a 36-34 lead at the break. After Cornell increased its lead to five at one minute into the second, Columbia answered with an 11-1 run, grabbing a lead it would not relinquish. The Lions were hot from beyond the arc, shooting 10-of-13 from three-point range. Senior captain Eric Taylor led the Red with 15 points, while the team combined for a season-high 13 steals.
Columbia’s second-year coach, Joe Jones, is continuing the team’s turnaround this season, after the Lions rebounded from an 0-14 conference showing in 2003 with a 6-8 record last season. The Lions have already equalled their win total from last season, earning their tenth victory over Navy on Tuesday.
“[Joe]’s doing a great job, and I say this, and I think Joe would agree, [former Columbia coach] Armond [Hill] always did a good job when he was there. They made a run at it, and they had a bad year when those kids were [freshmen and sophomores], and he was rebuilding.” Donahue said. “Unfortunately, in this business, when you rebuild and lose too much, you get fired, but those kids were young when [Hill] had them. Matt Preston, Dragutin Kravic, Dalen Cuff, Jeremiah Boswell, Matt Land, that’s the heart and soul of the team. They’re Armond Hill’s guys and Joe’s done a great job integrating his young guys with those guys.”
Preston, who netted 23 against Navy, leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, and Boswell is second in scoring with 10.9 points per game. After shooting 54 percent against the Red, the Lions shot only 37.5 percent against Navy, but still came away with a 69-63 win.
“We’ve got to run a real good offense against them. We’ve got to defend in the transition, which we did a decent job of, and we obviously have to guard the three-point shooters. They really hurt us,” Donahue said.
With the non-conference season behind it, the Red looks to gain momentum with a win tomorrow as it heads into the bulk of its Ivy schedule. Last year, the Red jumped out to a 5-1 start in conference play, before losing seven of its last eight games of the season.
“The matchups in our league are very critical to your success. Obviously, this is a critical game for us, and I’m sure Columbia feels the same way,” Donahue said. “We both have four home games after this; that’s the way that we do it, a 14-game tournament. Every team in our league can beat any other team.”
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach
Sun Staff Writer