Season Preview: Columbia Lions

Columbia, led by the Madman of Morningside Heights, will try to prove that it is a contender and not a pretender this year.


In 2011-12: 15-15, 4-10, 6th place

A Look Back: Last season, Columbia experienced one of the great examples of Bill Simmons” Ewing Theory in action when Noruwa Agho went down with a gruesome injury in the home opener of the campaign. Agho had been the Lions” leading scorer and all of the team”s offense flowed through the senior guard. In his absence, Columbia was forced to shake things up, work the inside-out game more, and put the rock in Brian Barbour”s hands more often. The result was magical. After falling to 0-4, Columbia ripped off 11 of 12 victories, and looked like a much more balanced, dynamic team. Young players like Alex Rosenberg and Cory Osetkowski saw a lot of court time and proved their worth; Mark Cisco became one of the league”s dominant big men; and Brian Barbour developed quickly into perhaps the league”s most impressive point guard.

While the conference slate brought the Lions face to face with the reality that they were still at least a year away from competing for a title, Columbia was extremely competitive in every game, losing by five or less or in OT seven times in Ivy play. Still, with Rosenberg and the other young guys getting another offseason of getting bigger and practicing, Columbia is a popular dark horse pick to contend this season. With the dangerous interior-perimeter twosome of Barbour and Cisco and a renewed focus on improving the defense, it”s easy to see why some see the Lions making a

run at the top of the league.

Players to Watch: Brian Barbour, Senior– Barbour can do it all and he always seems to know what his team needs. When he needs to be a scorer, he finds a way to get in the lane and make things happen. When circumstances call for him to dish the ball, he”ll find Cisco on the block or Rosenberg on the wing. That”s called being a good


Mark Cisco, Senior– Cisco is an absolute vacuum on the block. The big man notched four double-doubles in Ivy play last season, including a monster 18 point, 20 rebound performance at home against Cornell. I was at Levien that night and it seemed like there were three Ciscos on the court.

Alex Rosenberg, Sophomore– Rosenberg is a smooth operator on the wing. He has good touch on the perimeter and consistently finds a way to slash into the lane and finish at the rim. Rosenberg can also rebound very well for a 3; he pulled down 15 boards against Holy Cross last season. He was a very good third (or fourth) option on offense for the Lions last year. It”ll be interesting to see if he can make the leap into something more this season.

Steve Frankoski, Sophomore– Frankoski sat out last season due to injury. But he proved in his freshman year that he could shoot the ball and get hot. He started the season along side of Barbour and came away with 16 points including four three-pointers at Furman. Frankoski is one of those confident shooters who can hit a cold stretch, but just keep hucking them up there until they start going in again.

Key Non-Conference Games: November 20 at Villanova, November 24 at San Francisco, December 1 vs. Bucknell.

Prediction: I agree with most people that this is an upper-division Ivy League team. I think that if Columbia can stay healthy, improve their defense, and get a modest increase in productivity from Rosenberg and Osetkowski, they can win 8-10 games. Coach Kyle Smith knows what he”s doing–you can tell by the way he altered the Lions” gameplan after Agho went down– and it”s only a matter of time before Columbia finds league success.

Now, on to more pressing matters. In a recent interview with the Columbia Spectator, Kyle Smith noted that he is getting more comfortable

at Columbia and that he is ready for a nickname. He even suggested one for himself: “The Madman of Morningside Heights.” This is a pretty solid effort from Coach Smith, but we at IHO wanted to give Coach some alternatives. Let us know in the comments if you prefer one of the following or The Madman of Morningside Heights. Or put on your creative cap and come up with your own.

  • The Lunatic of Levien
  • The Uptown Undertaker
  • The Mad Hatter of Harlem
  • The Other Coach Jones

1 thought on “Season Preview: Columbia Lions

  1. May I suggest “The Fool.” Who else would take on such a career killing undertaking at such an historically hapless program? I mean scheduling D-III Haverford every year just so your boys can feel like men? I was at the game yesterday and everyone including the cheerleaders and that obnoxious lion mascot (who, BTW, sets a wicked screen with his tail) took a shot at the hoop. C’mon!

    Seriously though, if you want a nickname I like “Jerome Allen.” Why? Well look at the shining example you have down in Philly? Now that is something to aspire to.

    Stay Red and Blue My Friends,
    The AQ

    PS I will not commence legal action against Mr. March for blatantly plagiarizing my Ewing Theory idea.

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