Check out a couple of highly knowledgeable thoughts on expectations and hopes for the Lions this season:
John Templon, Big Apple Buckets Editor in Chief/Owner: Columbia is one of the most, if not the most, fascinating teams throughout New York City college basketball this season. It feels like Kyle Smith has been building towards this moment since he arrived on campus and, after a slight step back in 2014-15, this might be the season where it all comes together. It’s a little hard for me though to see just how that is going to work itself out. I have no doubt that the Lions will be able to score. The addition of Alex Rosenberg to last season’s excellent offensive team should just mean more versatility. Though scoring in the paint could be a problem with the graduation of Cory Osetkowski, it almost doesn’t matter with how the Lions will space the floor around the three-point arc. (The lack of a true “5” might even unclog the driving lanes even more.)
Still, it’s odd that a coach known for his work with big men at Saint Mary’s suddenly finds himself with a bunch of question marks at center and excellent wing players. The thing I can’t figure out though is how this team will improve defensively, which is what really needs to happen if the Lions are going to finally win the Ivy League. There’s no obvious route to improvement. Maybe Maodo Lo delivers more on-ball pressure from the point if he doesn’t have to expend a ton of energy on offense. Maybe Luke Petrasek or Jeff Coby realizes their potential as an athletic rim protector. Maybe Conor Voss had a great offseason. Maybe one of the freshmen is ready. If none of those come true though how are the Lions going to improve upon a defense that allowed opponents to shoot 49 percent on twos last season in conference play (seventh worst in the league)?
Because of questions on defense, I’m hesitant to predict grand things for CU. I think they’re the third-best team in a three-team Ivy League race, but at least they’re in the conversation.
Kyle Smith, Columbia head coach: “[Luke Petrasek] is more like Cory [Osetkowski] offensively — even better, offensively. But then, we’re not as sturdy. Obviously, he’s not as physically strong. But we become a very sleek offensive team with him at center.”
What do you think? Does Chairman Maodo reign supreme this year, or does Columbia’s defense hinder them too much to nab an Ivy crown? Both? Neither? What does the team gain or lose from having Petrasek establish himself further in the frontcourt this season on both sides of the floor? Weigh in with a comment below, even if you’re Pete Mangurian.