Mike Smith carries Lions as they adjust to new normal

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.”

Read moreMike Smith carries Lions as they adjust to new normal

Columbia nabs first win of season versus Binghamton, continuing its competitive start

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?

Read moreColumbia nabs first win of season versus Binghamton, continuing its competitive start

The rundown on Columbia men’s basketball

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.

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Ivy hoops roundup – June 21, 2019

  • Addie Micir is headed for Lehigh, which announced Wednesday that Micir is leaving Princeton to join the Mountain Hawks’ coaching staff as an associate head coach. Micir was an assistant under Courtney Banghart at Princeton last season following five seasons as an assistant at Dartmouth. Micir was 2011 Ivy Player of the Year at Princeton, earning her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Princeton in 2011 and her master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Dartmouth in 2018. Micir’s departure from Princeton was announced two days after new Princeton head coach Carla Berube’s introductory press conference. Berube will have to hire an all new assistant coaching staff after the recent departures of assistant coach Carrie Moore and director of basketball operations Jessica Imhof with Banghart to North Carolina and assistant coach Cinnamon Lister to UC Irvine.
  • Brown’s Mike Martin will be joining USA Basketball as an assistant coach for the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru from July 31 through August 4.  Martin, the 2019 Ivy League Coach of the Year, and Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard will work under the head coaching leadership of Providence College’s Ed Cooley.
    The team will practice at the Ruane Development Center on the Providence College campus from July 21 through July 26 before they head off to Peru.  The US will be in Pool A against the Virgin Islands on July 31, followed by games against Venezuela on August 1 and Puerto Rico on August 2.  The medal round play will be held on August 3-4.
  • Bella Alarie, the 2017 and 2018 Ivy League Player of the Year, will be a part of USA Basketball’s Pan American team on the women’s side.  While she’s waiting for that tournament, she continues her work on USA Basketball’s 3×3 team. This past weekend, her team came in third place in the 3×3 event in Turin, Italy.  They went 2-1 in group play, defeating the Czech Republic and Canada, but losing to France.  The Stars & Stripes defeating Mongolia in the quarterfinals before losing to the hosts, 16-12.
    After two tournaments, Alarie is sixth in scoring with 35 points, and her team finds themselves in second place overall with 115 points, 35 points behind France.  The US will next head to Poitiers, France (July 5-6), Ekaterinburg, Russia (July 9-10) and Lignano, Italy (July 13-14).

    Read moreIvy hoops roundup – June 21, 2019

Ivy hoops roundup – June 6, 2019

  • Following a 11-plus week paid suspension, Auburn University reinstated former Penn assistant coach Ira Bowman to his similar position on Saturday afternoon.  The 1996 Ivy League Player of the Year was suspended by Auburn just before the SEC Tournament, after former Penn coach Jerome Allen testified that Bowman was involved in a scheme resulting in bribes by Florida businessman Philip Esformes to get his son, Morris Esformes, on the basketball roster for the fall of 2015.
    Sam Blum of AL.com wrote that an Auburn athletics spokesman confirmed the news but did not have the results of the school’s investigation or information regarding the reasoning for Bowman’s reinstatement.  AL.com has filed an open records request to obtain this information.  Bowman returned to his reported $250,000 a year job, just in time to help with one of the biggest recruiting weekends in program history.
    Kevin Bonner, Penn’s senior associate athletic director, governance and administration, did not respond to an email from IHO regarding the reinstatement, the Auburn investigation or any Penn investigation of Bowman.

Read moreIvy hoops roundup – June 6, 2019

Stefanini leads pride as Lions hang on for first Ivy win

Gabe Stefanini finished with 24 points as the Columbia Lions held on for their first conference win of the season in their Ivy League home opener.

Here are eight thoughts for eight Patrick Tape offensive rebounds in the 73-70 win over Cornell:

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Ivies take Manhattan for MSG Holiday Festival

NEW YORK – Back in the day, the MSG Holiday Festival was a premier two day four team bracketed event that featured several of the nation’s top teams.  In addition to the classic 1964 Festival featuring Princeton (Bill Bradley), Michigan (Cazzie Russell), Syracuse (Dave Bing) and St. John’s (Coach Joe Lapchick), there were years like 1995, when Penn won the title and used it as a stepping stone to the AP Top 25; 1997, when Princeton was victorious on its way to a top 10 AP ranking; and 2009, when Cornell took the title on its way to a Sweet 16 appearance.  Over the last few years, the event has morphed into a one day double-header featuring the Johnnies and three other local mid-majors.  This year, the “worlds most famous arena” was home to a quarter of the Ancient Eight as Columbia took the subway and Princeton came up the NJ Turnpike to take part in the annual pre-Christmas tradition.

Before the Garden was cleaned up for the Knicks nightcap versus the Hornets, the Lions held off Iona  and the Tigers succumbed to the Red Storm.  While neither team was perfect and the results were spit, both teams had solid efforts and hope to use the day as a motivator as the Ivy schedule quickly approaches.

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What can Columbia build on after another tough loss?

As the great Renaissance humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam said: “Damn, Columbia just can’t buy a win.”

Columbia fell 87-86 in double overtime to Delaware Sunday at Levien Gym, leaving the Lions a frustrating 1-5 and the only team in the Ivy League under .500 and still searching for answers. The talent is there. The wins are not.

After an exceedingly comfortable win over St. Joseph’s (Brooklyn) of Division III, the Lions fought back multiple times against the 7-2 Blue Hens. Mike Smith scored five points late in regulation to force overtime. Gabe Stefanini hit a huge three to force a second overtime. Columbia earned the chance to win the game by getting a tie-up with 1.9 seconds to play. But the inbounds set remained unchanged despite a Delaware timeout; a lob to Patrick Tape, not corralled, and an off-balance Stefanini jumper, not converted, closed the books on a good start to December. Conference play, obviously, is the key, but Columbia is yet to prove a formula that might prove effective therein.

Read moreWhat can Columbia build on after another tough loss?

Not-so-classic weekend for Columbia at Fordham

Can Columbia buy a win?

More importantly, can Columbia buy a stop?

In the first 10 games of last season, Columbia allowed just three teams — not even Villanova among them — to score 80-plus points. This year’s squad has thrice conceded opponent totals of at least four score and seven years ago. Seems about right for the last time the Lions won a game.

The team dropped three consecutive games at the Johnny Bach Classic at Fordham over the weekend. Kendale Hampton scored a career-best 32 points to lead Youngstown State to a 94-83 win in Columbia’s opener. FIU rode several double-doubles to an easy 98-87 win over Columbia on Saturday despite Gabe Stefanini’s 33 points. The denouement came Sunday, when Columbia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a 70-69 heartbreaker against host Fordham.

Read moreNot-so-classic weekend for Columbia at Fordham