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Last year the Columbia men's basketball team endured one of its worst years ever, finished dead last in the Ivy League and managed just two Ivy League wins--over seventh-place Cornell and sixth-place Pennsylvania. This year, a rejuvenated Lions squad has a 5-5 record, good enough for a third-place tie with Yale and Cornell and a legitimate shot at finishing in the top half of the league.
Much of the team's success is due to the return of former Lions Coach Jack Rohan, the winningest coach in Columbia basketball history. Rohan returned to the sidelines this season after a 16-year hiatus. During Rohan's original head-coaching tenure, 1961-1974, the Lions enjoyed their most successful era, posting three consecutive 20-win seasons in the late 1970s
In 1968, Columbia posted a 23-5 record, won the Ivy League, reached the NCAA Eastern Regional semifinals and finished as the sixth team in the nation. Rohan was named Coach of the Year.
Next season, when Ivy League seniors like Princeton's Kit Mueller and Harvard's Ralph James graduate, Columbia may very well be a serious contender for the Ivy crown. Rohan graduates only two seniors--Scott Bennett and Steve Livingstone--and retains four members of his current starting five unit.
With a player the caliber of Lions sophomore Buck Jenkins, who has the ability to dominate a game in the same way that James and Dartmouth's James Blackwell have, Columbia can never be counted out of a game. Jenkins 47 points against the Crimson last Friday night may have been a career-high, but his success was more than a one-night stand. Jenkins has been named Ivy League Player of the Week twice this year, including last week.
1000 Point Club: After falling one point short of notching the 1000th point of his Harvard career Friday night against Columbia, junior forward Ron Mitchell wasted no time in getting the milestone out of the way early on Saturday.
Mitchell canned the game's first basket for his 1000th and 1001st points, becoming only the 15th Harvard player to reach that mark.
The milestone is just one of many Mitchell figures to achieve in the next year. Mitchell needs only 195 rebounds to overtake Barry Williams '66 and become Harvard's all-time rebounding leader.
The junior forward currently leads the Ivy League in rebounding, averaging 9.2 rebounds per game, is third in scoring, second in field goal percentage and 10th in free throw shooting percentage.
Academic All-America: Tyler Rullman was named to the GTE Academic All-America University Division District I Men's Basketball Team yesterday. Players who make the team regionally qualify for the national ballot. Fellow Ivy-Leaguer, Brown guard Rick Lloyd was also honored, along with Siena guard Bruce Schroeder, Holy Cross forward Jim Nairus and Manhattan center David Althaver.
Rullman continued to establish himself as one of the best shooters in the league, particulary from the free throw line last weekend. The sophomore forward ranks second in the league in free throw percentage (.933) behind Princeton's Matt Henshon, who is converting at a .955 clip. Rullman was perfect on the weekend from the line, nailing all seven of his foul shot attempts.
Harvard leads the league in free throw shooting percentage (.739), with every starter except Tarik Campbell above 70 percent from the line. Campbell continues to struggle from the charity stripe. The sophomore playmaker was 1-6 from the line Friday night, and 4-7 Saturday.
A Look Up: When The National ranked Princeton in its preseason top-50, basketball fans across the country may have scoffed. Mentioning Princeton in the same breath as national basketball powerhouses such as Duke and Indiana may have seemed laughable at the time, but the wire services have caught on to the Tigers mystique. The Associated Press poll lists Princeton at number 23 this week, ahead of Big East powerhouses Seton Hall and Georgetown.
When it comes time for March Madness to erupt, look for the Tigers to enjoy an ever higher seeding than the 14th position it captured in last year's NCAA tournament, when they just missed knocking off Arkansas.
A Look Down: Penn has settled into the Ivy League cellar, losing to the Elis, 69-64, at Yale Friday and falling to the Bruins, 66-60, at Brown Saturday.
The lone bright spot in a season of disappointments has been the play of freshman Will McAllister, five-time winner of the Ivy League Rookie of the Week Honor. Until last week, McAllister was the only player to have captured the award.
A 31-point, seven-rebound weekend earned Dartmouth's Gregg Frame the honor last week.
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