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.
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.
With teams a few short weeks away from actual games, here is a collection of off-season stories to catch up on before the start of the 2018-2019 season.
While Ivy Hoops fans were still processing the disturbing allegation against former Penn men’s coach Jerome Allen, the Columbia Spectator broke the surprising news that rising senior Lukas Meisner had signed a pro contract and would be forgoing his senior year in Morningside Heights. Columbia Athletics posted its own story detailing the move a few minutes later.
Meisner, originally from Braunschweig, inked a contract to go back home to Germany and play for Medi Bayreuth of the easyCredit Basketball Bundesliga. The team came in fourth place in the BBL in 2017-2018 and sixth in the German Cup. The 6′ 8″ forward started 24 of 25 games for the Lions in 2017-2018, averaging 27.5 minutes and 11.2 points per game. With his 50 percent overall and 41.7 percent three-point rates, he joined Princeton’s Myles Stephens as the only two Ivy Leaguers to shoot more than 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three last year. His 7.5 total rebounds and six defensive boards per contest were tops in the conference and he became the first Columbia player to lead the Ivy League in rebounds since Jim Tubridy in 1994-1995.
In case you missed it, the Columbia Spectator on Friday broke the news that first-year players Jaron Faulds and Myles Hanson have left the men’s basketball team and will pursue other opportunities. Ryan James of PrepHoops tweeted that Hanson will be looking to transfer for next fall.
Faulds played in 26 games this past season, averaging 4.5 points on 59.6 percent shooting, 3.2 rebounds and 14.2 minutes per contest. The 6’10” forward from Holt, Mich. was a four-star recruit at ESPN. Hanson, a two-star 6’6” small forward from Chaska, Minn., saw action in 19 games, averaging 3.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 10.5 minutes per game. Both were members of coach Jim Engles’s first recruiting class at Columbia.
They call him Mister Bibbs
Tai Bibbs of West Chicago High School committed to Columbia Friday following a visit to the school between March 26 and 28. The Lions had previously given Bibbs and offer before he signed to Drake. After Drake’s coach resigned, Bibbs was given his release and Columbia won out over Dartmouth, Lafayette, Fordham, Rice, Cal-Davis, Loyola, New Mexico State, Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne and Toledo. The 6′ 3″ two-star combo guard, who was named the captain of the Chicago Daily Herald DuPage All-Area Boys Basketball Team, averaged 26.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game, while connecting on 74 made three-pointers and 77 percent of his free throws. Bibbs, who follows Mike Smith to Columbia from the Land of Lincoln, is another strong addition to a Lions recruiting class that already has Jaron Faulds, Gabriele Stefanini, Randall Brumant, Myles Hanson and Jake Klores.
In time for the conclusion of Women’s History Month and the Women’s NCAA Tournament, the Human Rights Campaign discussed five LGBTQ players and coaches who have courageously chosen to be open and authentic in their sexual identity. One of these athletes is Cornell senior Nicholle Aston. The suburban Los Angeles native ended her Big Red basketball career in the top 16 in field-goal percentage, made field goals, points, total rebounds, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, blocks, games played and games started. More importantly, though, has been her volunteer work as Education and Advocacy Intern at Cornell’s LGBT Resource Center and President of the school’s chapter of Athlete Ally. With the support of coaches, teammates and allies, Aston has grown into a leader on and off the court, making the entire East Hill community a stronger and more accepting place.