Team preview: Columbia

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Perhaps it's just a pre-emptive strike, but Columbia head coach Joe Jones maintains a cleanly shaved pate.

All the better, one would presume, because his follicles would have shaken loose many temporary residents during last season's hair-razing dramatics.

The Lions were involved in 10 games decided by four points or less, and half of those outcomes were not settled until the final possession.

Justin Armstrong alone sank more game-winning shots -- three -- than most college players drain in a career. Armstrong's third, decisive stab to the heart -- a jumper with 11 seconds left to edge Princeton -- completed Columbia's first sweep of Penn and Princeton since 2001. Yeah, you guessed it; it was a Ben Nwachuku tip-in with a second left that shocked the Quakers the night before Armstrong's heroics.

Nevertheless, Columbia's thrill ride wound up being relatively vacuous. After a 5-0 burst to open the season, the Lions settled into the well-worn path of an 11-16 record -- 4-10 in the Ivy, tied with Dartmouth for seventh place.

Jones won't kick that fast start out of the house for eating crackers in bed, but he also realized the emperor wasn't wearing any undies.

"It kind of made it easier to go because right from the start of the season, the first two games we played down to the wire," Jones said. "I think the guys got used to it as the season progressed. I think they played with a lot of confidence because they had won early.

"But it showed me that we weren't a good team then. We weren't doing the things that you need to do to be a very good team, although we had won some very close games."