PRINCETON, N.J. – Columbia men’s basketball head coach Kyle Smith fielded questions during the Ivy League’s Media Day Teleconference on Wednesday afternoon. Below are a few highlights during the Q&A and the full interview can be heard at www.ivyleaguesports.com later today.
“We have a young group that has a lot of experience in terms of playing minutes. So, we’re pretty excited. Even though we didn’t finish the way we’d like last year, we have a lot of guys that participated returning. We actually have five guys that have been consistent starters in the program. Plus, we have some other young pieces like Isaac Cohen and Zach En’Wezoh, who are sophomores now, that played a lot of minutes last year and they’re starting to grow.
“It’ll be a little different. We played so much off of Brian Barbour the last three years, but now we’ll probably have Grant Mullins, who’s more of a scoring combo-guard that can also play the point and Maodo Lo, who came on really well for us last year (take over at point guard).
“Grant had a chance to play on the Canadian Developmental Team over the summer, which was a great experience. Alex Rosenberg had a chance to play at the Maccabi Games and won a gold medal for USA.
“We’ve got a competitive non-conference schedule with a chance to go out to East Lansing and play Michigan State. We play St. John’s at the Barclays Center. Plus, some of our other local rivalries and other academic rivalries with the Patriot League teams we have on our schedule.”
On the departure of Brian Barbour
“We’re going to miss his leadership. He meant a lot to the program as far as putting an imprint on what we want it to be about. We want it to be about guys like Brian Barbour. I’m sure we’ll miss him when we start to play live as far as the communication factor we had.
“I think with Grant Mullins and Kendall Jackson, a first-year from the Bay Area like Brian, we have some good candidates to do it. I’m sure there will be a learning curve. We have our first scrimmage on Saturday, so I’ll know more come Sunday.”
On Alex Rosenberg
“I think he got a chance to play with and against professionals. I think that’s always a good experience. Going up against better players kind of opens your eyes. He’s been good. He’s just got to be a more consistent perimeter shooter for us. I always compare his game to Hedo Turkoglu. He’s a big, 6-7 forward that can make a lot of plays and I think the more consistent he becomes on the perimeter shooting the ball, the better he becomes everywhere else. He’s a tough matchup for forwards, plays hard and really wants to become a good player. So to get that experience playing guys that play in Israel and the Patriot League is good to learn from.”
Will the team use being picked eighth in the preseason poll as motivation?
“We’ve addressed it. We weren’t going to let it linger. I think it will be a source of motivation. I don’t think we think of ourselves in that regard. But I’m also a big Bill Parcells fan and we have to deal with reality and we were what our record was last year. We’ve got to make strides to get better. I think we were really competitive, but gave up some games in tight situations and we have to keep addressing them and keep getting better. That’s the only answer. We just have to continue to work hard and the results will come. This (preseason poll) doesn’t mean anything, because last year we were picked pretty high.”
The Ivy League also announced its preseason media poll on Wednesday. Harvard was the unanimous choice to win the conference, followed by Penn and Yale.
2013 IVY LEAGUE MEN’S BASKETBAL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
First-Place Votes in Parentheses