Columbia Lions

Kyle Smith

Dons hire Columbia’s Smith

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Kyle Smith, formerly of Columbia, was named as the newest coach at San Francisco, the university announced Wednesday.

Smith spent six years guiding Columbia, going 101-82 overall with a 25-10 mark and a CIT championship this past season.

“I am extremely honored and thrilled at the opportunity to lead the USF basketball program and be associated with a great university in the most beautiful city in the world,” said Smith in a statement released by the school. “We will work tirelessly to develop leaders on the court, in the classroom and the community who will compete for a West Coast Conference championship and add to the legacy of this great program.”

Smith’s Lions teams were known for their measured pace and strong shooting in recent years with an emphasis on getting up a lot of 3-point attempts.

He inherits a group that was unable to break .500 the past two seasons under Rex Walters after what looked to perhaps be a breakthrough season in 2013-14. The Dons return the bulk of their team that went 15-15 and finished fifth in the WCC last year.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ivy League’s best meet in New Haven

Columbia guard Maodo Lo, right, steals the ball from Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Columbia at Yale, 5:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Ivy League, with matching 4-0 league records, meet for the first time this season. The Lions were close to suffering their first loss last weekend, but an Alex Rosenberg jumper as time expired gave the Lions the win at reigning champion Harvard. Rosenberg’s one of four players averaging at least 12.2 points per game for Kyle Smith’s team, with senior guard Maodo Lo leading the way at 15.8 per contest.

They’ll face a Yale rotation led offensively by point guard Makai Mason (15.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), and the front court tandem of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod has been outstanding. The winner get a leg up in the Ivy race, with the rematch scheduled for March 5 in New York City (regular season finale).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Central Michigan at Akron, 8:00 p.m.

Two of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference meet at the JAR, as Akron looks to extend its win streak to six straight. The Zips’ balanced offensive attack has been led by forward Isaiah Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who currently leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. As for the visiting Chippewas, guards Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler combine to average 32.7 points per game, with Fowler also responsible for a MAC-best 6.3 assists per contest. CMU’s had some struggles on the defensive glass in league play, ranking 11th in that category, but they’ve done a better job defensively than they did in non-conference play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • MAAC leader Monmouth is back in action, as they host a Fairfield team led by one of the conference’s best players in senior forward Marcus Gilbert. The Hawks have a deep lineup led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who at this point in time is the likely frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
  • Looking to catch Monmouth is Iona, which is a game behind the Hawks at 9-3. A.J. English and the Gaels visit Canisius in a matchup that should not lack for offense. Iona’s more inclined to run, but Canisius doesn’t lack scorers either with guard Malcolm McMillan leading four players averaging double figures.
  • Given the fact that they’re 1-3 in Ivy League play, Harvard’s essentially in the spoiler role unless some chaos breaks out at the top end of the standings. The Crimson can help in that regard with a win at Princeton, with the Tigers (2-1) a game behind Columbia and Yale in the loss column. Princeton’s been the better offensive team this season, thanks in large part to junior forward Henry Caruso who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.

 

VIDEO: Columbia beats Harvard on Alex Rosenberg buzzer-beater

Columbia forward Alex Rosenberg reacts after missing a basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  Northwestern won in overtime 83-80. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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Harvard’s hopes of making a fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament took a significant hit this weekend, as the Crimson dropped home games against Cornell and Columbia. Saturday night’s loss to Columbia, one of the preseason favorites to win the Ivy League, came as a result of Alex Rosenberg’s fadeaway as time expired.

Rosenberg’s shot capped a wild comeback for the Lions, who trailed by as much as 20 in the first half and by a score of 33-16 at the half.

Harvard’s now 1-3 in Ivy League play, a full three games behind Columbia and Yale. While it is early in league play, the fact that the Ivy doesn’t have a conference tournament (they label their conference slate as the “14-game tournament”) makes these regular season games that much more important.

Video credit: Ivy League Digital Network

Siyani Chambers’ last-second, step-back jumper lifts Harvard past Columbia (VIDEO)

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Siyani Chambers created separation from Maodo Lo with a step-back before rising up for the game-winning bucket with 2.9 seconds. Wesley Saunders would ice the win moments later, as Harvard remains atop the Ivy League standings with a 72-68 win over Columbia on Friday night in Cambridge.

The junior point guard ended with a season-high 16 points in addition to his three assists (zero turnovers). Saunders recorded 18 points, five boards and six assists. Lo led all scorers with 22.

The Crimson, winners of five straight since a home loss to Dartmouth, led by 19 points with 80 seconds left in the first half. The Lions would dig into that deficit, cutting it to nine before the first TV timeout of the second half. Lo and Jeff Coby each connected on 3-pointers in the last minute to tie the score at 68-68.

With Yale’s 75-48 win over Penn on Friday night, Harvard remains tied for first in the league standings. The Crimson hold a slight edge after beating the Bulldogs last week. Yale travels to Harvard for the rematch on March 6.

No. 1 Kentucky’s offensive rebounding prowess once again its greatest weapon

Willie Cauley-Stein (AP Photo)
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To this point in the season No. 1 Kentucky has been, in the eyes of many, the best team in the country. With their ten-man rotation chock full of highly talented players, the Wildcats entered Wednesday’s game against Columbia having won all nine of their games by 12 points or more. Yet even with that being the case there’s still plenty of room for improvement for John Calipari’s team, with perimeter shooting being the issue of late.

Kyle Smith’s Lions were able to effectively slow down the pace at Rupp Arena, with each team getting a paltry 52 possessions on the night. The combination of the slow pace and Columbia’s outscoring Kentucky by 12 points from beyond the arc in the first half led to Columbia leading 25-23 at the intermission.

However Kentucky’s ability to hit the offensive glass ultimately made the difference, with the Wildcats grabbing 21 offensive rebounds on their way to the 56-46 victory.

It should be noted that the Wildcats played without guards Tyler Ulis and Devon Booker (and Columbia is playing this season without Alex Rosenberg, who’s their best player), and that did impact the way in which Kentucky shot the ball from the perimeter. Overall the Wildcats shot 2-for-17 from beyond the arc, and over the last four games (playing three with their full rotation) Kentucky’s made just eight of their 49 three-point attempts. Yet even with their struggles in making perimeter shots the Wildcats have remained one of the best offensive teams in the country with regards to efficiency.

Why? Because they’re the best offensive rebounding team in America.

Prior to Wednesday’s game Kentucky was rebounding 45.5% of its missed shots, and against Columbia the Wildcats posted an offensive rebounding percentage of 52.5%. And while Kentucky may have scored “just” 15 second-chance points those extra possessions add up, and given Kentucky’s total scoring output that isn’t a figure to scoff at.

Willie Cauley-Stein was responsible for five of those 21 offensive rebounds, and he combined with Trey Lyles to grab 20 of Kentucky’s 41 total rebounds. The size and athleticism of the Wildcat big men produces extra opportunities against most opponents, and that will likely be the case throughout the 2014-15 season.

On nights when that doesn’t occur and they’re dealing with teams who can take away the lob without giving up the offensive glass, which Columbia was unable to do, Kentucky will need to hit some perimeter shots to loosen things up. However given the pieces at Calipari’s disposal, that strategy is far easier to plan than it is to execute.

Loyola (MD) gets a buzzer-beating win over Columbia after first shot is blocked (VIDEO)

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Loyola (MD) junior guard Eric Laster was 0-for-6 from the field when a loose ball off of a blocked shot found its way into his hands in a tie game with Columbia with only moments remaining. But the 6-foot-6 Laster calmly buried the game-winning jumper at the buzzer to lift the Greyhounds to a 64-62 win.

The bucket was Laster’s first points of the game and it helped Loyola to a 3-4 record on the season. The Greyhounds won despite Laster, the team’s leading scorer, struggling to find his shot on Tuesday night.

(H/T: Loyola (MD) athletics)