NEW YORK- Columbia and Penn basketball are both changing the status quo in the Ivy League, but in very different ways.
On a night where the Lions clinched a winning record in Ivy play for the first time since 1992-93 with their 19th win of the year, the Quakers continued with more of the same in a sorry 2013-14 season with their 19th loss, sealing their second consecutive year of fewer than 10 wins.
And it was just five months ago when Penn was chosen to finish second in the Ivy League Preseason Media Poll while the press picked the Lions to place last.
What a difference half a year makes.
“The culture at Columbia, there is a history [where] there is a certain group that will pat you on the back and you’re like, ‘Wait, we lost,’” Columbia coach Kyle Smith said. “That [history] is starting to turn and these guys have a lot to do with that.”
After watching the two teams play tonight, it was clear that the history is moving in favor of the Lions.
After finishing below .500 in Ivy play each of the last 20 years, Columbia looks every bit the part of an Ivy contender, displaying its three-point shooting, rebounding superiority and controlled focus for 40 minutes.
“You can feel the change,” junior forward Alex Rosenberg said. “I don’t really think about the past. I don’t think about, ‘Oh, we haven’t done it in 20-30 years.’”
And that thought process is serving the Lions well. This team doesn’t resemble what it looked like even a year ago, when the team was mired in last place.
Players like Rosenberg and sophomore guard Maodo Lo have become consistently successful on the court, displaying their athleticism and blowing past whomever the Red and Blue put on them all night.
And the role players did their part as well. Junior guard Steve Frankoski did what he does best, draining three triples for the Light Blue while freshman guard Kendall Jackson ran the point down the stretch, running circles around Penn’s guards.
But the complete team effort that Columbia had not only wasn’t present for the Quakers tonight, but has escaped the team all season.
The Red and Blue missed 11 free throws. They were outrebounded, 38-27. They had only five assists. And no player other than senior forward Fran Dougherty had more than two made field goals.
And for the second straight season, Penn is fated to finish in the bottom half of the Ancient Eight.
If you had asked anyone before the year, they would have thought that these two teams would be in very much the opposite position but it seems like these two teams are trending in opposite directions.
With an underclassmen-laden Lions squad laying the groundwork for a postseason berth this year and a challenge for Ivy supremacy next season, Penn is setting up for more of the same in the future as the program becomes another year removed from its most recent Ivy title.
And with the Quakers’ 16-41 record over the past two seasons, it’s a lot easier to forget that Penn basketball is supposed to finish ahead of Columbia, a team the Red and Blue have defeated 132 times over the last 110 years.
With the way Smith’s and Allen’s squads look moving forward, the Light Blue supremacy over Penn may be the new status quo.