Kobe Bryant’s impact on the game of basketball and the people who have a passion for it has been incalculable, and his sudden death at 41 following a helicopter crash that killed his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others near Los Angeles Sunday put into perspective just how much Bryant mattered to those who have been Ivy League hoopsters.
ITHACA, N.Y. – Cornell limited Columbia guards Jack Forrest and Mike Smith to a combined 7-for-32 shooting night as the Big Red took down the Lions, 62-50, at Newman Arena to pick up their first Ivy League win and first Division I win since Nov. 5.
The Big Red (4-11, 1-1 Ivy) were led by a balanced attack on offense while limiting the Lions (6-11, 1-1) to 32% shooting on defense. That was mainly due to Bryan Knapp’s all-around effort for the Big Red. He was tasked with guarding Mike Smith, who scored just 15 points on 5-for-23 shooting.
“We were just forcing him left, [isolating] him as much as we could, just team defense,” said Knapp. “We knew if we could shut him down, that was it. The last five minutes, the gameplan was ‘Bryan, don’t let him get the ball.'”
Columbia built an early lead and avoided a late-game collapse, as the Lions opened the Ivy schedule with a convincing 75-61 victory over Cornell Saturday at Levien Gym.
The Big Red (3-11, 0-1 Ivy) started out strong, shooting 57% by the first media timeout, to take a quick 12-9 lead. Unfortunately for the visitors, the Lions (6-11 overall, 1-0) limited Cornell to 14% shooting over the next 14-plus minutes. The Columbia offense, meanwhile, was clicking on all cylinders, shooting 67% from two, 50% from three and 71% from the free throw line to take a commanding 48-29 halftime lead.
HAMILTON, N.Y. – The Columbia Lions struggled to piece together stops and allowed the Colgate Raiders to shoot 53% from the field in an 89-71 matinee loss to the reigning Patriot League champs Sunday.
“We mixed and messed up some coverages, [and] they passed the ball really well so they picked on us when we messed up a coverage,” said Columbia head coach Jim Engles.
Mike Smith put Columbia on his 5-foot-11 frame and carried it to a much needed 68-64 victory over Lehigh Saturday afternoon at Levien Gym. The senior leader had 30 points, six assists (with only two turnovers), and drew 10 Lehigh fouls, five in each half.
“I just kind of mixed it up, I shot the three, got to the rim, hit a couple of pull-ups,” Smith said. “I just tried to change up the game, if I can score at all three levels, it’s kind of hard to stop it.”
No one ever said Columbia’s road trip, down to Virginia and back up to St. John’s, was going to be easy.
Columbia sits 1-2 after its first three games, notching its first win of the season in the home opener against Binghamton. A tumultuous preseason saw the team lose Gabe Stefanini (foot) for several months and Patrick Tapé (intention to graduate transfer) for the season. At Wake Forest, Columbia saw a late four-point lead dissipate and disappear for the team’s second consecutive 65-63 loss. In the home opener, however, the Lions comfortably topped Binghamton 75-63 for their first tally of the season in the win column.
What’s been driving Columbia’s competitive start to the season?
A respectable .500 winning percentage in the Ivy League, buoyed overall by solid nonconference wins. A close game at Harvard in early March, in the thick of the title race. Yale, conference champions, with Harvard the runner-up and Columbia not far behind. Sound plausible?
It was more than plausible in 1901-02, the Ivy League’s first basketball season, which began shortly after Harvard topped Yale for the year’s football title (a “fitting climax to a season of surprizes,” as the Daily Princetonian put it). Only 10 years after James Naismith cast a ball into the first stationary peach basket, Columbia began its varsity intercollegiate basketball competition. The Lions are still going strong even after the addition of three “new” teams to the conference since its inception.
Going into year 119, here’s everything you need to know about the Columbia Lions men’s basketball team heading into the season.
The biggest story of the off-season was Miye Oni being selected in June’s NBA Draft. The Yale junior and reigning Ivy Player of the Year decided to leave school early and leave his name in the draft. Despite falling to the late second round, a perilous spot to making an NBA roster, Oni impressed in the Summer League and earned a guaranteed contract with the Utah Jazz. He is playing just as well in the pre-season and looks to be a real steal for the Jazz.
- The Dartmouth men have completed its staff for the 2019-2020 season with the hiring of Steve Ongley as an assistant coach. Ongley spent last year on Jim Engles’ staff at Columbia, where he worked with the front court players. Prior to that, he was an assistant for four years at Colby College, the alma mater of Big Green head coach Dave McLaughlin.
Ongley replaces John Andrzejek, a Columbia graduate and one-time Lions student manager who joined former boss Kyle Smith’s staff at Washington State. There has been no announcement from Columbia for its replacement of Ongley.
- Princeton women’s coach Carla Berube finished the hiring of her new staff, with the announcement of Helen Tau as director of basketball operations. Tau, a 2014 graduate of the University of Texas who was a walk-on in her senior year, spent 2014-2016 as a graduate assistant for the Longhorns and then worked for Georgetown as director of video operations the last two seasons.
Tau replaces Jessica Imhof, who went to the University of North Carolina to join former Tigers coach Courtney Banghart.