Columbia preparing for “big” future

The Ivy League is losing a number of key players from last season, but one team that will return much of its rotation is Columbia. Still, like every team in the league in 2012-13 the Lions are going to be relying on some young talent in order to move up in the league standings.

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The Best Mid-Major Guards

Today Jon Rothstein, whose work I actually really like for the most part, wrote Ten Mid-Major Guards to Watch Next Season on CBS New York. It’s worth noting that he didn’t explicitly say the 10 best, but, considering he ranked them 1-10, it is sort of implied. Most of the names on the list make a ton of sense. I mean Isiah Canaan was a Second Team All-American last season and has his own Wikipedia page. I think he deserves to be #1. But some of the other names on the list make me think I’ve slipped into an episode of Punk’d.

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Top NYC Players: 10-6

This is part four of this week’s series about the Top 25 players in the New York metro area. Check out 21-25, 16-20, 11-15.

10. Greg Mangano, Yale — First, I’d like to note that separating the three Ivy League First Team players was one of the hardest things I had to do. All three were excellent this season and were part of the reason the league was so fun to watch. Mangano’s numbers – 18.2 points and 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game – are excellent, but I just wish there was a little more consistency in them. The 6’10” senior forward scored in single digits three times, including early in the season in a loss to Quinnipiac. Mangano obviously had a ton of great games, but nights like his 14-points, 5-board performance in an overtime loss at Cornell prevent him from being higher on this list. Overall though he had a great season. Mangano scored 26 points against then #10 Florida and also added 23 in a critical Ivy win over Penn. You don’t find a lot of players with his height and skills in the Ivy League and he certainly made the most of it during his final two seasons in New Haven.

9. George Beamon, Manhattan — You wonder how Manhattan would’ve scored any points this season if Beamon wasn’t on the team. He averaged 19 points per game and did it every way, shooting 43% from three, 80% from the line and 49% from the field overall. The 6’4″ junior swingman carried the Jaspers’ offense for long stretches of time and also thrived in the presses that Steve Masiello brought with him from Louisville. One of the most impressive parts of Beamon’s game was his consistency. He didn’t score in single digits once all season. His season lows came in two comfortable wins over Marist. Beamon saved his best for last, scoring a season-high 34 points in the Jaspers’ CIT win over Albany. After being named to the MAAC First Team in 2011-12, Beamon should contend for Player of the Year honors next season.

8. Brian Barbour, Columbia — At some point this season Barbour’s role with the Lions changed dramatically. It wasn’t quite when Noruwa Agho went down, but soon afterward Barbour became the man. It took him some time to accept that role, but once he did he showed skills rivaling the best guards in the Ivy League. Barbour averaged 15.5 points, 4.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game on the season while shooting 90% from the free throw line. Because he didn’t turn the ball over much, just 2.3 times per game, Barbour’s offensive rating is extremely high for shooting just 39% from the field. Barbour seemed to play his best at home in close losses during Ivy play. He scored 25 on back-to-back nights against Princeton and Penn and then scored 23 in the overtime loss to Harvard on the final Friday of the season. He drove Columbia’s offense and played 88% of the team’s minutes (51st in the nation). I’m sure Kyle Smith would tell you that’s too many, but it just goes to show how valuable Barbour was this season.

7. Ian Hummer, Princeton — In terms of efficiency Hummer’s junior season wasn’t quite as strong as his sophomore campaign, but that’s because he shot up to an insane 31.8% usage rate in 2011-12. So much of Princeton’s offense went through the 6’7″ forward that it was hard to miss him, though I bet some opponents wish they could’ve. Hummer averaged 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game during the season, while also contributing more than a block and a steal per game on the defensive end. He scored 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in Princeton’s triple overtime win over Florida State and added 20 and nine as the Tigers beat Harvard. He’ll be back next season and should continue to be a forced to be reckoned with in the paint in the Ivy League.

6. Moe Harkless, St. John’s — The small forward from Queens did absolutely everything he possibly could to try to live up to the promise he brought the Red Storm when agreeing to be a part of Steve Lavin’s super freshman class. While things weren’t always steady around him, Harkless turned in a season that was remarkable for a freshman in the Big East. Playing 36.1 minutes per game, he averaged 15.3 points and 8.6 boards. His outside shot and free throw stroke still need work but it is clear how special a player Harkless is. He was named an Honorable Mention on the All-Big East teams at the end of the season. Of course the game that everyone is going to remember, and has put the visions of what he can be in the head of every NBA scout, is Harkless’ 30-point, 13-board performance against Duke. The Red Storm ultimately lost that game, but it showed just what incredible talent Harkless has. The 6’8″ forward also scored 32 points and grabbed 13 boards against Providence and dropped 25 on Pittsburgh in what ultimately proved to be the final game of his collegiate career. All the best to him moving forward.

Check back tomorrow for the final five players, including two conferences’ Players of the Year and to find out who I rated No. 1 overall.

New York Mid-Major 2011-12 Teams

What a year it was for college hoops in New York City. Both Iona and LIU Brooklyn qualified for the NCAA tournament and Stony Brook also won the regular season title. A number of players were named to their All-Conference teams and garnered postseason awards. In fact, those awards are still coming in. Here I’d like to name my New York Mid-Major teams for the 2011-12 season.

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Season At A Glance — Columbia

This is the third of what will eventually be capsules for each of the NYC teams when I’m sure their season has concluded.

Team: Columbia

Record: 15-15 (4-10 in the Ivy League)

Season High: Sweeping round-robin at Loyola Marymount

Season Low: Losing at Brown 94-68

Really Good At: Defensive Rebounding — Columbia was strong on the defensive glass all season thanks to the efforts of Mark Cisco, John Daniels and Blaise Staab. They were first in the Ivy League during conference play in defensive rebounding and 20th in the country overall.

Struggled With: The rest of defense — A defense that looked very strong in non-conference play struggled during Ivy League play. The Lions failed to force turnovers or prevent opponents from getting to the line and it resulted in the second worst defense in the league during conference play.

Key Losses:

  • Matt Johnson (defensive stopper that started a few early season games)
  • Blaise Staab (quality rebounder and strong body in the paint)
  • Chris Crockett (three-point specialist and extra ball handler off the bench)
  • Steve Egee (captain and played with a lot of heart, was third on team in DR%)

Key Returnees:

  • Brian Barbour, Jr., G (All-Ivy quality point guard, 15.5 PPG, 4.5 APG)
  • Noruwa Agho, Sr., G (played only two games due to knee injury)
  • Mark Cisco, Jr., C (10 PPG, 7.2 RPG)
  • Meiko Lyles, So., G (10.6 PPG, 43.9% from three)

Key Quotes:

“Meiko being able to play 30-plus minutes a game is important. Barbour going through two years of playing that way it’s important. … We’ve got a little more experience that should help.” — Kyle Smith

“It definitely gives us some confidence. Going into this year we hadn’t really had a taste of being in games and being competitive in a couple games. We have experience now. That always helps.” — Brian Barbour

“We have high expectations going into next year. Not many people would go 4-10 and be excited for next year, but I think with this team it’s going to be a very good year for us.” — Barbour

Outlook: Good. There are reasons for Columbia fans to be excited for 2012-13. First of all most of the talent will return. Better yet it’ll be complemented by some players that are talented in their own right. Adding Steve Frankoski and Noruwa Agho to the base built up this season should give Kyle Smith a deep rotation next season. The question becomes can this team get tougher? Can it win the close games? Some of that is luck, but some of it is finding a way to get the best shot possible under two minutes, making free throws and locking down defensively. Still, it’s possible that Brian Barbour and Mark Cisco could both be All-Ivy performers next season. Meiko Lyles gives Columbia a third option and with a year of experience Alex Rosenberg, Cory Osetowski and Noah Springwater should be able to provide help off the bench. How does Agho integrate back into the rotation? What happens with a healthy Frankoski? Those are good questions for Smith to have to deal with next season.

Columbia finishes out season on high note

It wouldn’t have fit into Columbia’s season if it wasn’t close, so the Lions let Dartmouth hang around for 38 minutes before two big threes from Brian Barbour and Meiko Lyles finished off the Big Green.

“It’s crazy. I thought we played a tough game and we couldn’t get away from them,” said Columbia head coach Kyle Smith. “You look at the box score it just looks like we played an unbelievable game and we barely could get it done.”

Columbia shot 7-15 from three, had 14 assists to eight turnovers and held Dartmouth to 1-11 from distance, but still had to come up with some big shots down the stretch because of some little things. Things like missing the front end of a 1-and-1 and shooting 12-18 from the line overall as a team.

Those are the types of things that make Columbia’s final record of 15-15 and 4-10 in the Ivy League so deceiving. The Lions were in all but two games this season in league play, they just had trouble closing games out. Going all the way back to the first weekend of league play against Penn and Princeton up until Friday night’s overtime loss to Harvard, Columbia found lots of ways to lose nail biters.

That’s also why this group, which loses four seniors from the rotation but no key parts, has so much to look forward to. A year of development for Lyles, Cisco and Barbour and the freshman can only pay dividends moving forward. Noruwa Agho, who wasn’t honored at Senior Night as Columbia hopes his waiver request for another season will be approved, could also rejoin the Lions along with Steve Frankoski. Put it all together and there should be talent and depth throughout the roster.

Hopefully another year of experience will help with all the close games.

“I don’t know how to coach that out of us, but we’re going to get that out,” said Smith about Columbia’s tendency to let opponents get back into games. “I don’t know what it is, just have to be a little tougher probably, a little grittier.”

But on Saturday night it was all about the current group of seniors. Smith started the four seniors that were honored at Levien and they held down the fort along with Barbour for the first four minutes of the game. The set up led to Columbia getting 44 points of the bench.

“I was excited to start the seniors because it could also shorten the game,” Smith said. “I could get them four, five minutes instead of trying to fit them in. I thought it would give some of the other guys a little blow.”

Fan favorite Steve Egee played 17 minutes, scored four points and grabbed four rebounds.

“It’s great to go out on a win like that,” Egee said. “We’ve had some tough losses in league. To get a win to end the season and especially the four seniors’ careers, it’s really something special. I thought everybody played tough tonight.”

Lyles finished with 23 points and Mark Cisco had 15 points and nine boards. Barbour finished his junior campaign with nine points, five assists and one turnover in 36 minutes.

“I’m glad we go it done for [the seniors] to send them out on a good note. They work harder than anybody,” Lyles said.

Jvonte Brooks led Dartmouth with 17 points, including 9-10 shooting from the free throw line. His physical play down low forced both Cisco and Corey Osetkowski into foul trouble. Osetkowski committed four fouls in 13 minutes. Cisco fouled out after 30 minutes.