It’s Thanksgiving, which means it’s time to take stock of what followers of each Ivy men’s team should be thankful for at this point of the season:
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.
Fans of Columbia basketball may have been concerned by the omission of Patrick Tape, a 2019 honorable mention All-Ivy power forward, from Tuesday’s Road to Ivy Madness season preview. By Thursday afternoon, they would have their suspicions increased when Stadium’s Jeff Goodman tweeted that a source informed him that Tape would leave the program, graduate this spring and seek a graduate transfer next year.
Despite being in the team photograph, Tape’s name had been removed from the 2019-20 roster.
Ivy Hoops Online’s writing staff voted on where all eight Ivy men’s and women’s basketball teams would end up for the 2019-20 season. Our projected order of finish for the men (and the women’s rankings here):
Ivy Hoops Online reported Monday that Dartmouth guard Brendan Barry would miss the 2019-20 season due to injury. The Ancient Eight suffered its second major hit of the week Thursday when news broke that Columbia’s Gabe Stefanini injured his left foot and would be having surgery on Friday. Columbia Athletics confirmed the news to IHO later in the day.
Unlike with Barry’s injury, it is unclear how much time Stefanini will miss.
There is no official timetable for Stefanini’s return, but Basketball NCAA editor Riccardo De Angelis, places it at three to five months. If the timetable is correct and the junior guard’s recovery goes optimally well, he could return in time for the end of the Lions’ nonconference schedule against Maine on January 2 and Mount St. Vincent on the 9th to get ready for the Ivy opener at home against Cornell on the 18th.
Columbia men’s basketball head coach Jim Engles announced his team’s nonconference schedule on July 31, but it would be over a month before Columbia Athletics released the remaining 14 Ivy contests. With the schedule now complete, the Lions will look to use its 16 nonconference games as a springboard to the program’s first ever spot in the Ivy Tournament.
The highlight of the first half of the Lions schedule is an early season four-game tournament which includes a match against the defending national champions and a battle for New York supremacy.
- 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).
- 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.
Some Ivy updates before heading into Final Four weekends in Tampa and Minneapolis: