Around the Water Cooler: Wherein the Lions Roar

Published by Martin Kessler on July 14, 2010 at 3:11AM

Pitch me a good one, Ivy League sports.

Columbia baseball fans are a tough crowd to please. When Columbia Spectator writers Jacob and Michael Shapiro reported on the Lions’ loss in the Ivy League championship a couple weeks back, Columbia fans were far from happy with the negative tone of the article, commenting, “what the hell, bros? try putting a positive spin on something for once” and “Surprise! The brothers Shapiro combine on a horrible article, weird.” In an effort to avoid being verbally accosted in a similar fashion, this edition of Around the Water Cooler has nothing but positive things to say about the Lions baseball club. We will also explore the strange culture of our northern comrades over at Dartmouth, as well as the all-important topic of Ivy League basketball.

This has been a year to remember for fans of Ivy League basketball. The clock may have already struck midnight nearly fourth months ago for the Cinderella-like Cornell men’s basketball team in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, but the good times keep rolling for the players still in the game. Four Ivy League graduates are currently showcasing their skills at the 2010 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (and maybe doing some other things, too—but hey, who are we to judge?):  Harvard’s Jeremy Lin ’10 and Brian Cusworth ’07; Cornell’s Ryan Wittman ’10; and Penn’s Ibrahim Jaaber ’07.

So far, the two point guards, Jaaber and Lin, have been leading the pack with some impressive stats. Running the offense for the Los Angeles Lakers, Jaaber is averaging 5.0 points and 4.3 assists per game. Meanwhile, Lin—who has surpassed Yo-Yo Ma as the most popular Asian American—has come off the bench for the Dallas Mavericks and averaged 8.0 points, 2.0 assists, and 2.3 rebounds. (And, as history has already shown, Lin continues to be plagued by turnovers, averaging 3.3 per game.) Those numbers are a far cry from the 15.9 points and 5.2 assists Jaaber averaged as a senior with the Quakers, and the 16.4 points and 4.4 assists Lin averaged last year with the Crimson, but I guess trying to get past former UNC standout Ty Lawson is a tad harder than beating Brown guard Adrian Williams.

Wittman has been averaging four points a game for the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks this summer. With that in mind, we have a feeling that he won’t be holding an hour-long special on Cornell’s Slope TV at the conclusion of summer league to announce his illustrious future in the NBA.

Anyway, it’s time to appease Columbia’s baseball fans. Lions’ sluggers Jason Banos and Mark Heil have been tearing it up for their summer league baseball teams. Banos—who batted .301 with 34 RBI for Columbia last season—was selected to participate in the New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game this Sunday after having hit .329 through 20 games for the North Shore Navigators. Heil will take the field tonight in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game. While he didn’t see much action for Columbia last season (his only RBI came against—you guessed it—Harvard in the Lions 24-1 win over the Crimson), he has been making up for lost time this summer, batting .345 with a .438 on base percentage.

We all know that Dartmouth likes to do things, well, a bit differently. For example, in a stark departure from the usual alcohol-related practices that dominate the college scene, Dartmouth’s version of beer pong involves paddles. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Big Green’s skiing team had more victories this past season than Dartmouth’s football team has had in the past three seasons. It’s no wonder then that the Big Green would be able to land a former Olympian, Chip Knight, as their new women’s alpine coach.

Oh and for the Brown sports fans out there—four or five of you must exist—we promise that as soon as some real news (seriously, anything more interesting than the announcement of the new women’s soccer freshman class) comes out of Providence, we'll be sure to tell you about it.