Columbia Basketball Returns Following Almost Two-Year COVID-Layoff

Six hundred and twelve days after they last took the court, the Columbia men's basketball team will finally play a competitive game. Forgive the Lions if they look a bit rusty, Uncle COVID and his redheaded stepchildren, lockdowns and social distancing regulations, have kept them away from the gym for nearly two years.

In July of 2020, the Ivy League made the very New York City-like decision to cancel all fall sports because of the virus, forcing Lions hoopers to literally take their ball and go home.

“That first game back is going to be a great moment for everyone,” junior Cameron Shockley-Okeke told the New York Post. “It has felt like forever. It felt like ages.”

Columbia's last official game was pre-pandemic, on March 7, 2020. That evening, Columbia lost to Penn by 20 points. The team had been away from the school until September of this year when practice began.

After the Ivy League's July 2020 ruling, teams were forced to stay away from each other, gathering only on Zoom. The lack of practice and general socializing with friends, coaches and teammates unsurprisingly took its tool on the student athletes.

“You still want to be around your teammates because there’s going to be that day when you come back and you’re playing basketball again," added Shockley-Okeke. "You want to know guys’ tendencies, how they are not just on the court, but off the court as well, their personalities. It’s good to have that time together to keep that camaraderie.”

The lengthy and unnecessary layoff has the Lions eager to make every moment count.

“We just have to take advantage of every single second we step on the court,” said senior Ike Nweke, per the New York Post.

Columbia's first chance in nearly two years to give Uncle COVID the finger is tonight at 8 p.m. when they visit Fordham.


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Anthony is a former high school basketball intramural champion who played a leading role in creating two offspring. He spends his weekends hoping for an MTV Rock N' Jock revival. Follow him on X (@OhioAF).