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.”

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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.

Read moreThe rundown on Columbia men’s basketball

Ivy hoops roundup – July 25, 2019

  • 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.

    Read moreIvy hoops roundup – July 25, 2019

Penn men pick up first Ivy win, defeating Columbia, 72-70

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, N.Y. – “I thought it was a heck of a college basketball game,” announced Penn head coach Steve Donahue as he walked into the postgame press conference following his team’s 72-70 victory over Columbia.  “I thought the level of execution, in the second half in particular, was amazing.”

Penn held on despite red-hot shooting from Columbia in the second half, collecting its first win in Ivy play after Gabe Stefanini’s would-be game-tying shot for the Lions missed the mark just before the buzzer.

Read morePenn men pick up first Ivy win, defeating Columbia, 72-70

Columbia men fall to Penn in disappointing close to back-to-back homestand

Live by the pull-up jumper, die by the pull-up jumper.

Columbia lost the second game of back-to-back homestand to Penn, 72-70, a hard-fought contest that had both coaches praising the grit of the Ivy League.

Gabe Stefanini scored 27 points on a variety of jump shots and remarkable finishes, but clanked a last-second attempt to tie off the iron, leaving Columbia winless in back-to-back losses to Princeton and Penn. Quinton Adlesh added 15 points and shot 5-for-5 in the second half.

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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:

Read moreStefanini leads pride as Lions hang on for first Ivy win

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