The Women's Basketball team bench cheering after a made three-pointer in Levien Gymnaisum

A lot to look forward to, but a lot left behind

As Basketball season came to an end, Bwog’s Sports Editor Ross Chapman weighed in on the performance and the future of Columbia’s basketball team. 

Both Columbia Basketball seasons came to an end on Saturday night with close losses to the Yale Bulldogs. The women’s team ended their season at 3-11 in Ivy play, following a program-best 10-3 out-of-conference effort. The men’s season finished at 5-9, but it wasn’t certain whether or not the team would head to the postseason until Penn defeated Harvard about ten minutes later. Penn’s victory shut the door on the Lions, who had a 6-7 preseason. And while both teams will lose crucial pieces, the immediate future looks bright in Levien Gym.

The women’s team’s 3-11 Ivy mark matches their score from 2013-14 campaign, and exceeds every record since then. Coach Griffith’s first year will be hard to judge until we see the development of some of team’s younger players in the coming years, but the team is already more energized and competitive than it has been in the last several years. While four seniors are graduating, including two starters, the team is led by Camille Zimmerman, who returns next year with only 39 points between her and the Lions’ all-time points leader.

Tori Oliver will finish as the Lions’ #3 all-time scorer, who put a team on her back while they tried to find an identity. For the Lions to succeed next year, Zimmerman has to find a proper #2 with Oliver’s departure – the most likely candidate is Paulina Koerner. Meanwhile, Josie Little will have to stay healthy at the center, and Alexa Giuliano will have to recover her three-point stroke. Zimmerman may be the best player Columbia has ever had, and their success next semester will depend on allowing her to play more than just 1-on-5. But in college basketball, one superstar could be what it takes to propel the Lions into the Ivy tournament.

The men’s team is a bit harder to judge. While Conor Voss and Kendall Jackson received play down the line, the three most utilized seniors by minutes were the three forwards, Luke Petrasek, Chris McComber, and Jeff Coby. While Mike Smith and Nate Hickman will return to run the offense, the Lions will lose a lot of their height, length, blocking, and rebounding. To that end, Lukas Meisner (groomed to take over Petrasek’s stretch-4 role) and Patrick Tape will be major pieces to watch for the Lions’ success. Other developing pieces include Quinton Adlesh (whose ball handling, three-point shooting, and on-ball defense could provide the Grant Mullins replacement the Lions never had) and C.J. Davis (who, despite fewer minutes this season, quietly put up a .500 shooting percentage in Ivy play). The team’s success could come down to two players who notched no minutes this year – Kyle Castlin’s return to the court after an explosive Freshman campaign could temper Mike Smith’s tendencies towards heroball, and Shane Eberle’s presence at center could give the team their first consistent center since Cory Osetkowski.

The team’s 5-9 record belies their inability to close out, both in games and in seasons. While they protected against collapse at home against Harvard and Penn, they still never notched a series sweep, and they ended the season on a 1-7 skid. Coach Engles did a good job of developing new pieces, but he’ll have to find a way to defend against the three-point shot before the Lions can take a shot at the Ivy league title.

Stand up and cheer via Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin