IVY SEASON PREVIEW: Columbia Trendspotting

The numbers: 6-9 overall, 0-1 Ivy, 243rd RPI, 276th Sagarin, 262nd Pomeroy

The recent results: lost to Lafayette 91-74 (1/6), lost to St. Francis (NY) 59-53 (1/11), lost to Cornell 74-53 (1/16)
The upcoming schedule: vs. Cornell (1/23), vs. Harvard (1/29), vs. Dartmouth (1/30)

Key Non-Conference Wins: vs. Longwood 72-61 (11/20), vs. Bucknell 73-59 (11/24), vs. Lehigh 75-70 (12/3)

Winter Swoon

After a promising start to the season, in which the Lions stuck with DePaul for 40 minutes, kept from getting embarrassed at Syracuse and posted an above .500 mark through nine games, injuries and a sluggish offense finally caught up with Columbia, as it dropped four out of its final five non-conference games. Four of its worst six offensive performances have come in the last six games, as well as its worst three shooting displays of the season. The injuries on the interior have really hurt the Lions’ interior game, and with their three-point shooting falling back towards earth (Columbia is still second in the nation from behind the arc) there is almost no offensive identity at this point. Even without one, the Lions are still demonstrably better than Penn and Dartmouth, but if Columbia wants to compete for the upper division, it needs to find a way to make some two-point field goals.

A Long, Long Time Agho

Sophomore guard Noruwa Agho has answered questions surrounding his spotty shooting last season with aplomb. Agho has hit 57 percent of his three-pointers on the season and is connecting on an improved 46 percent of shots from inside the arc. His EFG of 60.7 percent is 63rd nationally, but in order for him to see his true shooting percentage creep into the top 100, he needs to do a better job drawing fouls, getting to the line and most importantly, converting when he gets there. Agho has been a workhorse offensively, using 24.1 percent of the possessions when on the floor and taking 27.0 percent of the shots. He’s also playing 85.5 percent of his team’s minutes, which is the 92nd most nationally.

Windex Men

The Lions’ big men have been putting in admirable work on the defensive glass all season long. Three different players are ranked in the top 500 nationally in defensive rebound percentage and a fourth, freshman Mark Cisco, would be tops on the team if he had played the few more minutes necessary to qualify. Brian Grimes sits in 108th place nationally, grabbing 21.8 percent of the defensive rebounds while he’s on the floor. Grimes is trailed by Asenso Ampim (19.1 percent) and John Daniels (17.8 percent), as well as decent rebounders for guards Kevin Bulger (10.0 percent) and Agho (9.7 percent). As a team, Columbia ranks just 130th in defensive rebounding percentage, but this is primarily because it has struggled to keep its best rebounders on the floor for most of its minutes this season.

Odds & Ends

– Despite its three-point shooting prowess, Columbia is taking fewer than one three for every four shots, when the national average is just under one per every three shots. The Lions’ 24.0 three-pointer to field goal ratio is 328th nationally, limiting the benefit Columbia has seen from its amazing display from long range this year.

– The Lions are shooting just 0.6 percentage points better from two-point range (43.5 percent) than they are from three (42.9 percent). The struggles from inside the arc extend to the line as well, where Columbia’s 66.0 percent shooting from the stripe ranks 246th nationally.

– After starting the league slate on the road in Ithaca, the Lions get their next five Ivy games at home, starting with Cornell’s return this weekend and then Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown and Yale over the following two weekends. And Columbia’s next road trip is its least difficult logistically, as it travels just down the road to take on Princeton and Penn on Valentine’s Day weekend.

Michael James

Michael James wrote 98 posts

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