"a time to weep and a time to laugh,
Game #9-378: Dartmouth Big Green at Columbia LionsFebruary 8, 2013 7:00 pm
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain."
- Ecclesiastes 3:6-7
NEW YORK - Whenever there is a snowstorm, or in this case a blizzard, one of the things to do in New Haven was always to get the hell out of here and take a train to New York City. The trains always ran on time, and there was always something to do, usually at Madison Square Garden.
So with school
and any other major responsibilities suddenly eliminated, and an Ivy League game in Manhattan Friday night, there wasn't even a question. How was I going to get home? C'mon, man. I don't deal in hypotheticals. Or foresight. Or practicality.
True to form Friday, New Yorkers, on the whole, were oblivious to the deteriorating conditions around them. The subways were underground, the streets were plowed enough to drive buses on at least, and you just had to tiptoe around piles of snow when crossing streets or going into buildings.
Under normal circumstances, I would have been upset that Levien Gym wasn't full. Part of me still was, to be honest, never mind that Columbia - tagged as a dark horse by many in the Ivy League (why is everyone suddenly looking at me?) - was out of contention for the automatic berth with three losses in the tournament-less Ivy, and their opponent - Dartmouth - hadn't won a road game in conference in four years (although they were getting close last time we caught up with them).
Levien Gym - like almost all in the Ivy - is tiny and the community supports the team very well. If you've ever been involved in a "bad weather" game in any sport, or just a game that turns kind of wacky (official term) due to an act of God (not one that causes injury, obviously), you know the strange buzz that accompanies it. All that focus, all that mental preparation sometimes just flies away like an NYC pigeon with your food.
While not as many as usual, there were a decent amount of Columbia students in attendance, and they were fired up, maybe due to the lack of classes on Friday, maybe due to what they were doing instead of educating themselves. But the best and brightest academic specimens our great nation has to offer needed to blow off some steam, and why not doing it razzing opposing basketball players (in a fun way, of course). One young man actually had a "Reagan-Bush, '84" tanktop on with a headband to boot. Going to be tough to beat that the rest of the way.
In addition to the weather conditions outside creating the potential for a lack of concentration, Dartmouth had a couple of other things working in their favor. Despite the collapse at the end, they obviously played well against Harvard and were able to grab an Ivy win over Yale last week. On the other side of the snowflake, Columbia hadn't really put it together in Ivy League play, and - as I said - with at least feint hopes of contending for a conference title before the season, their motivation level might be slightly diminished against a double-digit underdog like Dartmouth.
From the opening tap, junior point guard Alex Mitola got the "Mid-get" treatment from the Columbia students. At 5-foot-11, he's probably heard it before. His shot, well, let's be honest, it's ugly to watch, almost like a blast from the distant past, a pushed set shot looking thing that you wouldn't even show your 10-year old for fear of imitation.
But there are no style points in Our Game, and Mitola hit enough of them to keep the Big Green in the contest. Besides one check of his bio tells you he scored nearly 2,000 points at his New Jersey high school, hitting 44 percent from behind the arc in his senior year. When freshman Connor Boehm, just a pest inside grabbing rebounds and causing havoc, joined in on the fun, Dartmouth had a 29-26 lead at the half. Could this finally be the night the 24-game, four-year road streak ended in a Big Apple blizzard?
Paul Cormier and Dartmouth stayed in their zone and watched Columbia miss on its first 13 #superhoop attempts. When Tyler Melville capped an 8-0 run with a layup and foul, the Big Green had a 40-29 lead with 15:34 left. But Cormier had seen this script before, so it probably didn't shock him to see the Lions hit three #superhoops in succession to cut the Dartmouth lead to two.
Lo's steal and subsequent John Daniels dunk put Columbia up 54-52 with 2:40 left and appeared to spell doom for the young Big Green with the student section in a blizzard frenzy, and the history of losing. But, at last, this was to be Dartmouth's night. The young Mitola scored six straight points, after a #superhoop finally allowing himself to point at the Columbia student section.
It was a tad early. Columbia got to within one, and down three with time running out, had three chances to tie it - Dartmouth running around trying to foul on the final two - and the Big Green had its first Ivy League road victory in four years. The jubilant team did their own mini-court storm and - with Saturday's game at Cornell having already best postponed, had some time to enjoy it. It actually marked the first time in four years that Dartmouth had won two league games in a season (having beaten Yale at home the previous week).
Snow angels for all, I say.
Of course, for every time to laugh there is a time to weep, and on the way out I briefly caught sight of Coach Smith's wife - who had spent most of the evening trying to chase their young kids around the Levien Gym bleachers - trying to hold back tears as the teams left the floor. We know this game will hurt you, and it looked just a few weeks ago, with no one truly dominant in the Ivy League, that Smith - used to success as a top St. Mary's assistant before coming to New York - might be able to put Columbia in contention for its first NCAA berth since 1968. With that would come the national media and Smith would continue his rise through the coaching ranks.
Instead, unless Columbia can upset Harvard Sunday, they'll be 1-5 and at the bottom of the Ivy League, banged up and just looking to make it to the end of the season in one piece.
The Columbia media guide says the Smith family resides near the Columbia campus in Manhattan, so I hope they did what I did Saturday morning as the sun rose over a foot of snow in the Big Apple (it was much, much worse in other places, like my home of New Haven, for instance). Hopefully, they got up, had a nice breakfast, and took the kids to Central Park, and gazed in astonishment as not only Mother Nature's power, but also her beauty, an entire city covered in white.
They could have also noticed the resiliency of the populace: joggers made their runs through icy paths, groups of bikers amazingly zipped past despite the fact there was no blacktop to be found, dogs frolicked around having the times of their lives.
Life goes on. No matter what.
DARTMOUTH 60, at COLUMBIA 57
DARTMOUTH 6-13 (2-3) -- C. Boehm 9-14 2-2 20; A. Mitola 6-9 1-1 17; T. Melville 5-8 2-3 15; J. Golden 1-1 1-2 3; J. Brooks 1-3 1-2 3; G. Maldunas 1-3 0-1 2; K. Crescenzi 0-4 0-0 0; T. Carpenter 0-1 0-0 0; M. Gill 0-2 0-0 0; B. McDonnell 0-0 0-0 0; M. LaBove 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-45 7-11 60.
COLUMBIA 9-10 (1-4) -- M. Cisco 6-9 4-6 16; B. Barbour 2-6 3-3 7; M. Lo 4-8 0-0 9; S. Frankoski 2-9 0-0 6; G. Mullins 2-9 0-0 4; C. Osetkowski 0-1 1-2 1; I. Cohen 2-3 0-3 4; A. Rosenberg 1-5 2-3 4; J. Daniels 3-3 0-0 6; B. Gilson 0-2 0-0 0; N. Springwater 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-55 10-17 57.
Three-point goals: DART 7-15 (T. Melville 3-4; C. Boehm 0-3; K. Crescenzi 0-3; A. Mitola 4-5), COLU 3-20 (B. Barbour 0-2; S. Frankoski 2-7; B. Gilson 0-2; M. Lo 1-4; G. Mullins 0-5); Rebounds: DART 22 (C. Boehm 7), COLU 32 (M. Cisco 9); Assists: DART 11 (J. Brooks 4), COLU 12 (B. Barbour 7); Total Fouls -- DART 18, COLU 15; Fouled Out: DART-J. Brooks; COLU-None.