According to an Associated Press report on Columbia’s 82-73 loss at Boston College Wednesday night, Lions coach Jim Engles announced that star point guard Mike Smith has a torn meniscus and will miss the remainder of the 2018-2019 season. Smith’s injury occurred in the first half of last Friday’s game against Bryant. The junior point guard ends his season as one of the Ivy League’s top performers with 15.8 points, 5.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
Smith, who was recruited to Columbia by former coach Kyle Smith out of Chicago’s Fenwick High School, has been the main offensive weapon for coach Engles in each of their first three seasons in Morningside Heights. In his rookie campaign, Smith started all 27 games and set a single-season first-year scoring record with 368 points. He finished the year averaging 13.6 points and 3.5 assists per game. Smith started 26 of 27 games in his sophomore season, earning spots on the All-Ivy second and All-Met third teams. He led the Ivy League with 4.5 assists per game and was second in scoring with 17.6 points per contest. Before this injury, Smith was one of the more durable players in the Ancient Eight averaging 31.4, 34 and 31.8 minutes per game in each of his first three seasons.
Smith, in addition to petitioning the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility, could follow the lead of former Lions first team All-Ivy forward Alex Rosenberg and withdraw from the university to give himself the option of playing his last two seasons at Columbia. If the 5′ 11″ speedster stays in school and is successful in getting the fifth year, he would return to the Lions for his senior season and then attempt to spend his last year of eligibility as a graduate transfer.
This is another huge blow for coach Engles and his team. In the offseason, the Lions lost Lukas Meisner to professional ball in Germany, Kyle Castlin and Nate Hickman to graduation, and Jaron Faulds (Michigan) and Myles Hanson (Xavier) to transfer. The team, which used Smith as its main weapon on offense over the last few years, will again need to reinvent itself as it approaches a post-finals matchup against Rutgers and the Jan. 19 Ivy opener at Cornell. For now, sophomore Gabe Stefanini has successfully stepped into the point guard role in Smith’s absence, averaging 10 points and eight assists over 28 minutes of game time.