When asked by a reporter about home court advantage when playing Penn and Princeton this weekend, men's basketball Head Coach Armond Hill responded with the following: "Home court advantage? [Pause] Have you ever heard of that here?"
Although Hill's remark was probably not meant to be a challenge, the Lions faithful will try to prove him wrong this weekend. And what better way to do that than to rip off some witty lines at the opposing teams?
Heckling is a Levien Gym art form. And since the fans are basically on top of the court at home games, it is easy for hecklers to get inside an opponent's head.
During Harvard and Dartmouth games two weeks ago, for example, Levien hecklers disrupted the play of two of the best players in the league. Dartmouth's Greg Buth averages 17.4 points per game but scored only four points against the Lions, and Harvard's Dan Clemente, who averages 18.9 points per game, scored only 10 points. At certain points in the game, those players both shot the evil eye at their Columbia tormenters. Columbia won both games.
Now the challenge is to get in the heads of Penn and Princeton's best players to help the Lions out this weekend. This should be possible with a larger crowd making more noise than usual. For those who feel bad about heckling, consider a quotation from former Princeton center Chris Young. Last year he said that the intensity of the fans at Levien make the game "exciting, a great place to play."
What follows are some ideas. Columbians need little help to heckle well. But with this extra info, Lions fans shouldn't find themselves short of things to scream at this weekend's visitors.
The Tigers present an interesting challenge to the Lion partisan who wishes to heckle. Columbia's basketball team is crafted in Princeton's image. But the fan should use that fact to his or her advantage. Last year, after Princeton controlled the opening tip, someone screamed at the floor, "Slow it down!"
If Columbia ever takes a lead, give Princeton the old "over-rated" chant. (The team just beat Penn and is number one in the league.)
But the fans must also get into the heads of individual players. The general heckling strategy at Levien is to pick out the opponent's best player and ride him until the game ends. With Princeton, though, this is difficult to identify since the team moves the ball around so much. If any one player from Princeton should make an individual move, like a drive to the basket, yell to him that he needs to stay within the offense or that he doesn't understand the system.
A look at some of the possible subjects:
Nate "Not my Father" Walton #33:
Walton is Princeton's leading scorer. He is also the son of former star and current L.A. Clippers color analyst Bill Walton. Walton is an average to poor announcer. Walton also has terrible hair. Let Nate Walton know that he is not as good as his father or his brother Luke, who plays for Arizona.
Ahmed "El Nookie" El-Nokali #15:
El-Nokali's brother played at Pittsburgh. Pitt is a scholarship school. Perhaps he is not as good a basketball player as his brother. His name is also curiously similar to the popular Limp Bizkit song, "Nookie."
C.J. "The Chucker" Chapman #22:
Chapman is Princeton's sharp-shooting guard. When he gets going he is dangerous, so give him the old "brick" and "air ball" chants every time he misses in order to get him off track.
Ed "Iran to" Persia #10:
Persia, the starting point-guard, is undersized. Let him know that he is too short to score and that he could spend some time in the weight room.
Andre "Run-Away" Logan #30:
Logan is the last obvious Tiger to heckle. He hails from Brooklyn, so he has essentially rejected the Big Apple by going to Princeton. Let him know that he couldn't handle the big city, that he is a traitor, and that dirty Brooklyn just isn't Manhattan.
The Quakers bring their cheerleaders and pep band with them on the road, and after the team wins, they do this imperial salute that is somewhere between ancient Rome and the Third Reich. Penn fans are scary people. Let them know that their school is inferior.
Philly is an apocalyptic wasteland. Remember 12 Monkeys? That's what Philly's like, with or without the lethal virus that wiped out the entire world. Refer to Penn as the real ghetto and to its players as thugs.
Geoff "Cheesesteak" Owens #51:
Geoff is a large man. He stands 6'11" and really clogs up the lane. He is a fifth-year senior. Therefore, discerning fans could question his goods upstairs. Furthermore, it is clear that the man has enjoyed a few too many cheesesteaks at Abner's, a Penn student hangout.
Ugonna "Kiss Me" Onekeye #1:
Onekeye is by far the most athletic player in the Ivy League. He will do something impressive, so let him know that every other move bores you. He is from England, so give him the old Revolutionary jibes of "red coat" and "we won the war." His nickname should be "good-looking."
Lamar "The Toilet" Plummer #21:
Plummer is the leading scorer for the Quakers. In January Craig Austin shut him down completely, holding Plummer to five points. If Plummer has another night like he did in Philly last month, it would be a good idea to taunt him. Also, ask him what happened to his trademark goggles.
Adam "Scrub" Chubb #15:
Chubb is big and clumsy. He is the back-up center, so he will not see too much time on the hardwood. When he comes in, tell him to get back to the bench.
If anyone fouls out, give them the old "na-na-na-na, hey-hey-hey, good-bye." After fouls, call the guilty "hackers" or "muggers" and tell them to "move their feet, not their hands."
Even if the Quakers and Tigers escape Manhattan with wins, they should leave feeling a little less positively about themselves.