The Inside Scoop on Columbia Basketball

Published by Martin Kessler on March 02, 2012 at 10:12PM
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Junior point guard Brandyn Curry keyed Harvard to victory when the squad faced Columbia earlier this season. If the Crimson hopes to have success against the Lions on Friday, he might need to contribute a similar performance.

This Friday, the Harvard men's basketball team will seek redemption as it travels to the Big Apple to take on Columbia. We caught up with the Columbia Daily Spectator's Michele Cleary and Zach Glubiak to get the inside scoop on Lions basketball.

What can Harvard expect from Columbia on Friday?

ZG: To be honest, I would expect the Lions to come out full of energy this Friday. Head coach Kyle Smith and several of his players called the loss to Brown last Saturday their worst performance of the season, and with all of the hype surrounding Friday's game, Levien Gymnasium should be buzzing with excitement. On the court, it's really a matter of whether the Lions can get back to their bread and butter—tough defense and an opportunistic offense. I think a lot will hinge around the play of center Mark Cisco. If he can get going and avoid foul trouble, Columbia is a far more dynamic team.

When Noruwa Agho went down, I think everyone expected Columbia to have a Dartmouth-esque season. How do you explain the success?

MC: That was one of the most horrifying moments of my life, but it was ultimately not so terrible for the team. For one thing, I think people underestimated how good Brian Barbour was, but he has put the team on his back many times this year in ways Noruwa used to. Mark Cisco deserves a lot of the credit, too. He's obviously a monster on the boards and his outside shot has gotten really solid.

Can you please explain to me what the deal is with Blaise Staab’s and Mark Cisco’s hair?

MC: Honestly, I can't. I've never gotten up the courage to ask either one of them. The headband has become a superstition thing for Cisco, I think. As for Blaise, when we were at Princeton a few weeks ago, one of the little kids sitting behind press row yelled, "Hey #30! This is men's basketball!"

What happened on Saturday? Did both teams agree to stop playing defense in the second half?

MC: More like Columbia decided not to play defense for the first 10 minutes or so. Once the Bears got going, nothing could stop them. I'm pretty sure if one of Columbia's players had tackled McGonagill to the ground while he was shooting, his shots still would have gone in.

What are the keys to slowing down Brian Barbour?

ZG: Make him work to get the ball. He has had trouble when teams make him work to even get his hands on the ball, with man-to-man full-court sets, doubles, and other ways of denying him the ball employed by most Ivy League teams. He is the key to the whole offense, so if someone else is bringing the ball up the court, not only does that limit Barbour's effectiveness but it hurts the entire team's offense.

Where’s the best spot near campus to grab some food post-game?

ZG: It's New York, so you can find pretty much whatever you want, but my personal favorite is the Heights. Start with your standard-but-delicious guacamole and chips and order the grilled steak burrito and you'll be set. If you're looking to start the night off, order a strawberry margarita on the side.

Final score prediction?

MC, ZG: 61-58 Columbia with a winning three by senior Steve Egee.