Entering the 2011-2012 season, the New York Knicks had high expectations. New York was expected to be a serious contender in the East for the first full year that superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire were to share the front court. Yet, as is often the case in sports, injuries would have a say in the matter.
As early injuries to Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis left the point guard position threadbare, the Knicks management sought to shore up the position and recalled a then little-known player from the D-League, Harvard grad Jeremy Lin. With Anthony also ailing and Stoudemire forced to miss time due to family obligations, the depleted Knicks decided to give Lin a shot. In his first start, Lin had 28 points and eight assists against the Utah Jazz to help New York get the win. The Knicks notched another win in their following game, powered by Lin’s 23 and 10 double-double. Linsanity began, and the rest is history.
Heading into the 2013-2014 season, the Columbia football team, perhaps for the first time in a while, had serious expectations. Sure, the Lions weren’t predicted to dominate the conference or become a powerhouse, but with transfer quarterback Brett Nottingham, they were expected to at least take a serious step in the right direction and compete in the Ivy League.
Yet, just as the Knicks learned a few seasons ago, and as hockey legend Jaromir Jagr once said, “You have to be a good team, but you have to be lucky and stay away from injuries.”
Whether the Lions could have been a good team this year, we still don’t know. In their very first game, a disappointing 52-7 blow out at the hands of the Fordham Rams, Nottingham and senior co-captain and defensive lineman Seyi Adebayo sustained season-ending injuries. While such a reality is surely a tough blow for both the team (and its eager fans), perhaps we can learn from the 2011-2012 Knicks that all hope may not be lost. Perhaps we too will find our Jeremy Lin.
With two such important players out of commission, plenty of new faces will have the opportunity to step up. Head coach Pete Mangurian said that he’s confident sophomore quarterback Trevor McDonagh and the blend of old and young on defense will fill in well.
Does anyone seriously expect McDonagh to become a star and carry the load on offense? Probably not. But did anyone seriously expect Lin to become a star and lead the Knicks to seven straight wins following his first start? Did anyone expect senior Marcorus Garrett to emerge as arguably the best running back in the Ivy League last year?
Thanks to an intense summer regimen with strength and conditioning coach Ryan Cidzik, the team is faster, stronger, and more physically prepared than it has been in years. The next step is the mental game. How will the Lions bounce back from such devastating news so early into their season? Will some new young players seize their opportunity and make a mark this year?
The only surefire way to find out, of course, is to play the games—or watch them, if you’re like me. I’ll be in the stands as the Lions open at home this Saturday against Monmouth, looking to put together a linsane (or maybe lionsane) season.
Alexander Bernstein is a Columbia College sophomore. Contrarian Review runs biweekly.