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 Columbia women’s basketball nonconference schedule was released on July 30 and the league potion of the schedule was finalized on Monday morning. Coach Megan Griffith’s Lions have a 13 game pre-Ivy schedule featuring seven home contests and four games against NCAA Tournament teams.
After starting the season on the road at Albany and opening up the home slate against St. Joseph’s, Columbia faces three straight NCAA teams in an eight day period. First up is Fordham on November 10. The Atlantic 10 champion Rams were 25-9 last season, including a 68-49 victory over the Lions.
Five days later, the Light Blue travel to upstate New York to take on defending MAC champion Buffalo. Two years ago, Felisha Legette-Jack’s Bulls, visited Levien Gymansium and escaped with a buzzer-beating 65-63 win. Buffalo would eventually go on to the Sweet 16 that season. The Lions close the streak at NEC champion Robert Morris on November 17.
In Coach Megan Griffith’s first year at her alma mater, the Lions went 13-14 and its 10-3 non-conference record was an all-time best. Columbia faced a more challenging non-conference schedule in 2017-2018, but hoped to use it to build upon the 3-11 league record in 2016-2017. As the season began, the Light Blue & White had major losses that deprived them of a significant amount of their experience, front court depth, and three point shooting. While the coach was left with one of the Ivy League’s all-time offensive talents, the inexperience of the rest of the roster made for a disappointing 8-21 (2-12 Ivy) season. A spot in the Ivy Tournament may be too much to expect in 2018-2019, but the coach will bring in a large class of newcomers to help the young returnees move the program in the right direction.
The Lions lose Camille Zimmerman, Paige Tippet, and Jillian Borreson to graduation. They will also be without the play of seniors Josie Little and Sarah Elston, who, according to Columbia Athletics, have both medically retired. Zimmerman averaged 19.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, finishing the season with her second straight selection to the All-Ivy first team. She finished her career with 1,973 points, fourth in Ivy history, as well as Columbia’s all-time leader in points, rebounds (940), field goals made (728), field goals attempted (1,707), free throw percentage (82.6), games played (113) and games started (112). Zimmerman joined the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx as a free agent, but was released at the end of the preseason. She recently signed a professional contract to play for Kouvottaret in Finland.
1. Princeton (6-3)
Win – at Quinnipiac, 60-46
Loss – at Rutgers, 70-50
In the second of a six game road trip, the Tigers visited Quinnipiac on Saturday afternoon and soundly defeated a Bobcat team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Despite falling behind by six and not scoring a point in the first 5:21 of the game, Princeton rallied to take a three point lead after the first quarter. Down 6 heading into the final frame, the Bobcats used a 9-2 run to take a one point lead with 7:13 to go. The Orange & Black responded by outscoring Quinnipiac 17-2 the rest of the way for the victory. Bella Alarie and Leslie Robinson each posted 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way. The Tigers won the game with strong defense, limiting the Bobcats to 19 percent three-point shooting and 36 percent two-point shooting while outrebounding them by 11 percent.
1. Princeton (2-1)
Win – at Seton Hall, 85-83
Loss – vs Georgia Tech, 67-56
Bella Alarie had double-doubles in both games, this week, and is leading the Tigers with 15.3 points and 10.3 boards a game. Tia Weledji is averaging 14.7 points a contest and had her first career double-double against the Pirates. Carlie Littlefield has been named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the first two weeks of the season. Starting wing Sydney Jordan left the Seton Hall game after four minutes with an injury and did not play against Georgia Tech. Her absence from the lineup will, most likely, increase the playing time for the highly rated first-year, Abby Meyers.
Former Columbia star and Princeton assistant coach Megan Griffith was hired in March 2016 to rebuild the Lions women’s basketball program. In her first season, the team opened up the season with a school record winning percentage in nonconference play (10-3, .769) and a program first-ever victory over a Big East opponent (66-64 in overtime over Providence). Ivy League play, though, was not as kind to the Lions, as they ended up losing eight of their last nine and finished tied for seventh place with a 3-11 conference record. As the new season approaches, Griffith has unveiled an ambitious schedule that seeks to toughen the team for league action.