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Men’s Basketball Welcomes LIU on Tuesday; Maine on Saturday – Columbia University Athletics

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NEW YORK — Columbia men’s basketball returns home for matchups with LIU on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Maine on Saturday at 1 p.m. from Schiller Court at Levien Gymnasium.

Tuesday’s matchup between the Lions (3-2) and Sharks (0-3) can be followed via live stats or watched live on SNY and ESPN+ while Saturday’s tilt with the Black Bears (3-3) can be followed via live stats or watched live on ESPN+. Click here or call 888-LIONS-11 to purchase tickets.

Opening Tip-Off

The Lions earned a gutsy 78-73 victory at American Athletic Conference member Temple on Saturday in the first-ever meeting between the two teams, handing the Owls their first loss of the season.

Columbia shot the lights out by going 27-55 from the field (49.1 percent) and 12-26 (46 percent) from downtown.

The Lions look to continue their winning streak as they open a three-game homestand on Tuesday against LIU at 7 p.m. on SNY and ESPN+.

News/Notes

Last Time Out 

The Lions are now winners of three straight following a 78-73 victory at Temple on Saturday. Columbia was led by Avery Brown’s 13 points and five assists. Geronimo Rubio De La Rosa and Jaden Cooper each chipped in 11 points. Columbia was 27-55 from the field and 12-26 (46 percent) from downtown. Temple posted 35 percent shooting from the floor, converting on 22-of-62 shots.

 

Lions Trending Upward

With the Lions being 3-2 on the season after Saturday’s win at Temple, it’s the first time since Feb. 4, 2017 that Columbia has had a record over .500. Columbia has also won three straight games for the first time since March 1-8, 2019.

Fast Facts

The Lions are one of four teams in the country that return more than 90% of their scoring this season, along with Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, and St. Bonaventure. Columbia is also one of 11 teams in the country to return at least 70 percent of its points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks from 2022-23.

Well-Balanced Attack

Through the first five games this season, Columbia has had four players finish with double-figures scoring four times. Geronimo Rubio De La Rosa and Avery Brown are averaging double-figures scoring to start the year, while Kenny Noland, Zavian McLean, and Blair Thompson are all averaging over nine points per game. 

Free Throw Frenzy

Columbia is 79-95 (83.2 percent) from the free throw line this season. That mark leads the Ivy League two weeks into the season. Columbia and Yale are tied for most free throws made. Blair Thompson (13-13) and Noah Robledo (6-6) have not missed from the charity stripe. Columbia went 22-24 from the line on Nov. 11 against UAlbany. It was the first time the Lions drilled over 20 free throws against a Division I opponent since Nov. 16, 2022 vs. Delaware State.

De La Rosa Dominance

Junior guard Geronimo Rubio De La Rosa has built off his strong sophomore campaign to start this season. The Santiago, Dominican Republic native  had scored in double-figures in nine straight games dating back to last season before dropping eight points in last Wednesday’s game. He has scored double-figures in four out of five games this season. De La Rosa played a strong all-around game in 2022-23, leading the Lions and ranking among the Ivy League leaders in scoring (13.6), rebounding (5.6) and steals (1.4). His 713 points through his first two seasons are the third-most all-time in program history for a player’s first two years.

De La Rosa recorded 22 double-figures scoring games last season, including six straight to close out the year. He scored in double-figures in 12 out of the team’s 14 Ivy League games last season. De La Rosa was one of four Lions to play in all 29 games last season and Avery Brown was the only other Lion to start in every game. De La Rosa’s 88.8 percent mark from the free throw line last season led the Ivy League and ranked No. 16 in the country. His mark from the charity stripe also ranked third all-time in a single season behind Brian Barbour, who did it twice (.917, 2010-11 and .901, 2011-12).

Scouting LIU

The Sharks enter Tuesday’s game at 0-3 with losses to Air Force, Pepperdine, and UCLA. LIU is averaging just 59.3 points per game and is led by Terell Strickland’s 13 points per game. R.J. Greene and Eric Acker are also averaging double-figures. The Sharks were picked to finish seventh in the Northeast Conference Preseason Poll.

Series History – LIU

The Lions and Sharks meet for the first time since 2012 on Saturday. Columbia is 4-3 all-time in the series and last defeated the Sharks in 2011 at home.

Scouting Maine

The Black Bears are 3-3 and have spent the last week at the UNF MTE in Florida. Kellen Tynes, AJ Lopez, and Peter Filipovity are all averaging double-figures for Maine. The Black Bears were picked to finish fifth in the America East Preseason Poll.

Series History – Maine

The Lions are 5-4 all-time against Maine and won the most recent NYC meeting in 2021, 77-66. The Black Bears defeated the Lions last season in Orono.

Up Next

Following matchups with LIU and Maine, Columbia closes out the November slate at home against Loyola (Md.) next Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Sophomores Stepping Up

Columbia’s sophomore quartet of Avery Brown, Kenny Noland, Blair Thompson, and Zine Eddine Bedri look to take the next step in their game. All saw significant action as first-years (combined 23.1 minutes per game) in 2022-23 and will play an even bigger role this season. The group also accounted for 45 percent of the team’s scoring last year.

Brown’s 30.0 minutes per game last season was tied for most by a rookie in the Ivy League (Princeton’s Caden Pierce). The Beacon Falls, Connecticut native’s 79 steals a season ago ranked seventh in the league and were the most by a first-year in the conference.

In just his seventh career game last season, Thompson poured in a career-high 22 points at Binghamton. He was also named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Dec. 19.

The Schedule

The Lions have a 27-game slate set for 2023-24 that features 15 home games from Schiller Court at Levien Gymnasium. Columbia will face three opponents that appeared in last year’s NCAA Tournament (Providence, FDU, and Princeton). 

Columbia’s non-Ivy League opponents are made up of teams from nine different conferences: Big East (Providence), America East (UAlbany, Maine, New Hampshire), Liberty League (Bard), North Atlantic (SUNY Delhi), American Athletic (Temple), Northeast (LIU, FDU), Patriot (Loyola [Md.]), Lafayette), Atlantic 10 (Fordham), and Skyline (Mount Saint Vincent).  

Ivy League play commences for the Lions on Jan. 9 at Cornell. Columbia’s conference home opener is on Jan. 20 against Princeton. Columbia concludes the 2023-24 regular season at home against Cornell on March 9. The top-four regular season finishers in the conference will compete in this year’s Ivy Madness, held at Schiller Court at Levien Gymnasium on the campus of Columbia University from March 15-17.

The Roster

Columbia returns 12 players from last season, all who appeared in games throughout the 2022-23 campaign. The Lions return all five starters and had just two graduates from last season’s team. Top returners include leading scorer and rebounder Geronimo Rubio De La Rosa (13.6 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game last season) and two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week in 2022-23, Avery Brown. The roster features three seniors, five juniors, four sophomores, and three first-years.

Columbia men’s basketball coach Jim Engles officially announced Arop Arop, Richard Nweke and Nicolo Romanelli as the program’s 2023 recruiting class. All three players are enrolled at Columbia as first-years.

“With the addition of Richard, Arop, and Nicolo, our roster is brimming with talent, versatility and depth,” Engles said. “These young men embody the core values we hold dear at Columbia University – a commitment to academic excellence, strong character and a passion for basketball. They have already demonstrated their dedication both on and off the court, and I have no doubt that they will excel as representatives of our esteemed institution.”

The Coaching Staff

Head coach Jim Engles enters his eighth season at the helm of the Columbia men’s basketball program. Tobe Carberry begins his fourth season as assistant coach and Jake Brown begins his third season as assistant coach. Assistant to the head coach Jesse Agel embarks on his eighth season with the program.

Austin Nisbett arrives on staff as an assistant coach this season after spending the 2022-23 season at the University of Tennessee at Martin as director of basketball operations. No stranger to Morningside Heights, Nisbett was on the 2021-22 staff at Columbia, where he worked under Engles and assisted coaches and full-time support staff members with administrative duties, team travel, practice preparation, on-court operations and player development.

Foreign Tour Central

Columbia men’s basketball completed a 12-day foreign tour through Switzerland and Italy. Following departure from New York City on Friday, Aug. 11, the Lions spent three nights in Switzerland and seven nights in Italy before returning home on Tuesday, Aug. 22. For all the content regarding the foreign tour, head to the Columbia men’s basketball photo galleries page for each day’s gallery and view the full trip’s wrapup by clicking here. To view the trip’s full itinerary, click here. The 12-day tour consisted of two full days of travel on the first and last day. It was the first foreign tour for Columbia men’s basketball since 2012.

The trip included a stop at the newly-opened Viola Park, home to ACF Fiorentina. It is one of the largest soccer facilities in Europe and is owned by Columbia Athletics Hall of Famer Rocco B. Commisso ’71SEAS. For the video recap from the tour with Commisso, click here.

Lions in the Pros

Columbia has 10 alumni currently playing professionally: Ike Nweke ’22CC, Randy Brumant ’21CC, Tai Bibbs ’21CC, Gabe Stefanini ’21CC, Mike Smith ’20CC, Patrick Tapé ’20CC, Kyle Castlin ’18CC, Lukas Meisner ’18CC, Luke Petrasek ’17CC, and Maodo Lo ’16CC.

Lo Wins Gold

Columbia men’s basketball alumnus Maodo Lo ’16CC won gold at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with Team Germany in September. Lo played in all eight games and averaged 6.6 points and 2.5 assists over 16.3 minutes per game. He shot 44.2 percent from the field. In a second round game against Georgia, Lo went off in a 100-73 win for 18 points in the fourth quarter on 6-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Lo also poured in 20 points in Germany’s 85-82 victory over Australia in the first round.

Free Inducted Into Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame

Columbia men’s basketball standout Ricky Free ’79CC was inducted into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame class of 2023 in October. Free finished his career at Columbia with 1,214 points in just three seasons, which puts him 15th all-time in program history. The three-time All-Ivy League selection also ranks in the program’s top five in career field goal percentage (55.2 percent – third) and rebounding (662).

Newmark Inducted Into Jewish Sports Heritage Association Hall of Fame

Columbia basketball Hall of Famer David Newmark ’69CC was inducted into the Jewish Sports Heritage Association Hall of Fame earlier this year. Newmark was recruited to Columbia from Lincoln High School, where he was a high-school All-American, the man nicknamed “shorty” would become the first building block of the eventual 1968 Ivy League Basketball Champions.

Preseason Ivy League Poll

The Lions were predicted to finish eighth in the preseason Ivy League poll, conducted by selected members of the media.

Follow The Lions

For the latest on Columbia men’s basketball, follow @CULionsMBB on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or on the web at GoColumbiaLions.com.

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