Now’s the time of year that an Ivy League hoops slate would be revving up, and since there’s no Ivy hoops action to come this spring, here’s an IHO contributors’ roundtable pondering what might have happened in the 2020-21 Ivy season on the men’s and or women’s sides if there had been one instead of an exodus of much of the league’s top talent via the transfer portal. Behold the one-year Ivy hoops universes we created:
Jack Forrest, one of few rays of hope for Columbia during its long slog to a 6-24 record this season (1-13 in Ivy play), is transferring, Verbal Commits reported Saturday.
Forrest averaged 8.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in his rookie campaign, including a season-high 23 points in Columbia’s lone conference win in the Ivy opener against Cornell.
Losing Forrest would be a blow to the Lions, marking yet another loss of talent transferring away from the program. Patrick Tapé opted to become a graduate transfer before the 2019-20 season following his junior campaign, a year after Jaron Faulds and Myles Hanson left the program. Mike Smith and Jake Killingsworth have also entered the transfer portal, the Columbia Spectator noted, as both lost seasons due to injury and cannot play as graduate students per Ivy League rules. That means Columbia’s first, third and fourth-leading scorers from this season will be unavailable next season, although last season’s leading scorer Gabe Stefanini lost the 2019-20 season due to injury and is expected to return in 2020-21.
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.”
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 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.