The varsity basketball team will open its Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League competition at 9 p.m. tonight against Columbia at Morningside Heights. The Crimson, with a 4 and 2 won-and-lost record this season will be aiming at a higher position in league standings than last year when it finished sixth out of seven teams.
Coach Norm Shepard intends to start his usual lineup--Bill Dennis and Captain John Stevenson at the forward spots, Dick Lionette at center, and Bill Hickey and Gerry Murphy at the guard positions. Ed Blodnick, Ed Condon, Bob Gremp, Ed Krinsky, and Ambie Redmond will also make the New York trip and probably will see a lot of action.
After using a zone defense in most of the first games of the season, Shepard intends to use a man-to-man formation which, he believes, will work better against the tougher opponents.
Columbia has a tall, fast, experienced squad, but it does not nearly resemble last year's quintet, undefeated in all its 22 regular season contests. The Lions have lost the services of their 1950-1 captain. All-American John Azary, through graduation, and also are missing their ineligible scoring ace, Jack Molinas.
But their second highest, scorer last year. Bobby Reiss, has returned, along with the playmaker and this year's captain. Al Stein. These two will team at the guards, with another letterman, Paul Brandt. Sophomore Ed Lehman, who averaged over 15 points on his freshman team, will play at the other forward position. Six food seven inch Dick Johnson will be the other starter in the center pivot.
The five Columbia starters average exactly six feet, three inches, considerably more than the Crimson's first five. The Lions' first two reserves who will probably play a lot are also big--Stan Moratos at six feet, three inches and Howard Rosenfeld at six feet, five inches. Columbia Coach Lou Rossini employs an effective floating man-to-man defense to protect the basket, though he also uses a fast-breaking offense. Most of the New Yorkers' scoring will probably come from Reiss and Lehman, aided by Stein, who had an average of 9.7 points a game last year.
Rossini has led his team to seven victories and three losses so far in his second seaso nas head coach. The Lions' three defeats have been by a total of four points two of them coming in the Dixie Classic