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Username Post: Fans, coaches and teams        (Topic#21279)
Columbia Alum 
Posts: 247

Age: 33
Reg: 11-15-11
03-07-18 10:06 AM - Post#251180    
    In response to Chet Forte

I don't think meisner being there and us making the tournament would have saved the season for me. Other teams (Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard) had much greater obstacles to overcome. we have stagnated at Kenpom sub 200, and actually slowly deteriorated as the season has progressed to KP ~230. If you want to look at our program through a historical lens of being perpetually mediocre, bottom half D1, then sure Engles has done as expected.

But I look at our program through the potential it has, with the Ivy improving in recent years, better financial aid leading to a greater pool of recruits, NYC flourishing as a city, Columbia as a university and Kyle Smith's last year and the Football team's last season showing that we are not doomed to suck at the two biggest sports. Through this lens, we are severely underperforming our potential, and nothing about our current program is giving me hope that we will recognize our potential any time soon.

Posts: 398

Reg: 11-07-06
03-07-18 10:07 AM - Post#251181    
    In response to Chet Forte

That's not just the "deep administration", it was obvious from observing the game itself. Meisner may be the best player Columbia has - a key to the offense, the defense and rebounding, an efficient scorer, and a calming influence. Unfortuately, he is essential and no one on the team has the broad skill set to replace him. (Smith needs to become more efficent with the ball to surpass Meisner - but he may not have the team around him to allow him to do that. With the exception of Petrasek, Smith left the cupboard fairly bare. The quality and synergy of the players on the team for the last couple of years is a signficant drop-off from the 25 win year. That's just the way the roster is. It doesn't look like coaching. Regarding the tournament slot, I wouldn't be too concerned because even if things had worked out, this year's team didn't deserve it.

As for recruiting, consensus is this year is unusually thin in the high school ranks so there isn't quality volume available. Columbia also opens only two slots from graduation. I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) Ivy basketball teams have recruiting limits like football teams. So even if there were great players to choose from, Engles might still be limited in bringing new players in.

As for player development, Smith certainly improved over last year. If you watch last year's and this year's early season film and compare it to this year's late season film, you will see marked improvement in Tape, Faulds, Adlesh, Hunter, and Stefanini. Bibbs and Hanson had moments that looked like improvement at midseason - I don't know why they disappeared, injury or the doghouse? There's a long way to go, but the players are making progress. It's not clear yet whether they have the ability to become top contributors. Engles can take some responsibility, but if so one has to recognize he has shown some results.

It remains to be seen whether Engles can recruit well enough to raise the program to a consistent winner. Smith didn't do that, and he wasn't there long enough to show that he could do it. No one has done it for decades. Can Columbia compete annually with Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn for enough top talent to move into the upper division? That remains to be seen. But remember, Engles hasn't fallen from that level; CU hasn't been there since Tom Penders left in the 1970's.

As for my suggestions, I'd get a game or two in the Garden and the Barclay Center to help recruiting. I'd have Mike Smith binge on Alton Byrd film, to see how an undersized guard can distribute the ball, score efficiently and make his team better. And I'd look to see whether there's a current equivalent of Pete Newell's big man camp and send as many as possible of Tape, Faulds, Eberle, Brumant and Hanson as can go. Or ask Smith if he can use his NBA contact to find similar experiences to his of last summer for any of those guys.

Other than that, it's a waiting game. It may take two to three more recruiting years to see progress in the W-L. Meanwhile, look for incremental improvement in individual players and hope for some entertaining games. Or perhaps this young team will learn how to win close games and turn things around as soon as next season. They were fairly close this year.

Posts: 44

Age: 70
Reg: 03-17-16
03-07-18 09:59 PM - Post#251325    
    In response to JadwinGeorge

The only person to blame for that one was Jim McMillan.

Chet Forte 
Posts: 2259

Reg: 03-02-08
03-08-18 07:50 AM - Post#251353    
    In response to SecS3

I was actually quite disappointed to see that Meisner did not at least get HM consideration this year. Although he sometimes lacks aggression, he may well be our best player. However, he may have been responsible for a true low point: during the winnable second Penn game, he allowed Brodeur to stuff a tree point shot and go coast to coast. I think that the embarrassment of that one play had an adverse impact on his mentality. So I think he needs to become more aggressive and frankly angrier on the court. There aren’t many front court players who can match his complete game. As far as our other best player, the role model for Mike Smith should be Isaiah Thomas.

Chet Forte 
Posts: 2259

Reg: 03-02-08
03-08-18 07:50 AM - Post#251354    
    In response to Chet Forte

Meant three point shot, obviously.

Big R&B Truth 
Masters Student
Posts: 401
Big R&B Truth
Loc: Back Waters of New Englan...
Reg: 11-23-04
03-11-18 05:58 PM - Post#252052    
    In response to Chet Forte

I have lived in Columbus, and I can echo Columbia 37P6 comments. The football and basketball coaches of Ohio State are the two most visible people in a city that is getting close to a million people. Even more than the governor of the state. The pressure of these jobs, especially the football coach, is unlike very few places in the country.
The former basketball coach, Thad Matta, could have survived one bad season where his star player was injured, but the team had been on a downward trajectory for the last 5-6 years. He was also losing top Ohio recruits that use to come to OSU when Matta was in his prime. Any comparison to an Ivy League program is irrelevant.

Dr. V 
PhD Student
Posts: 1444

Reg: 11-21-04
03-11-18 08:43 PM - Post#252148    
    In response to Big R&B Truth

I thought that what I had written was pretty clear and simple, but apparently not to some. I was not comparing Ohio St. with the Ivies or coaching in the Big Ten to coaching in the Ivies. My point simply was that which players a coach has/doesn't have available in a given year due to injuries or, in one instance, transfers strongly influences that team's success/failure in that year. This was in support of my strong suggestion that this year's CU team had really been hurt by the losses of Killingsworth for the entire season, Castlin for much of the season and Meisner for parts of the season. I chose examples from a non-Ivy league to avoid any of the emotional sympathy/antipathy that we may have for a given team or players on that team.

Columbia 37P6 
PhD Student
Posts: 1665

Reg: 02-14-06
03-11-18 10:24 PM - Post#252199    
    In response to Chet Forte

I'm still puzzled by Dr. V's lengthy attempt to exculpate the coaching staff for any share of responsibility for the disappointing season. It's all well-written and interesting, but I just don't get it, right up to his last paragraph, which reads, as follows:

"None of this is to suggest that we couldn't or shouldn't have performed better in some games, but as to the question whether we had quite a bit of talent and underperformed or whether we were quite thin and over performed so as to be close in many or most games, and to win a few against teams with more talent, I am in the latter camp."

In my opinion, Columbia Alum, cc66, Chet Forte and Sagatius have offered more reasonable explanations. At the very least, I just don't see how anyone as smart as Dr. V is could reach the analytical conclusion that we "...over performed so as to be close in many or most games, and to win a few against teams with more talent." I love Dr. V because he shares my passion for Columbia athletics, but I cannot accept his conclusory remark that this team in any manner "over performed."

PhD Student
Posts: 1748

Reg: 10-09-09
03-12-18 12:55 PM - Post#252391    
    In response to Columbia 37P6

Actually, I am kind of an agnostic on these issues. I see talent, but I oscillate between thinking we have exaggerated the potential of our recruits and blaming Engles for the failure to realize that supposed potential. Dr.V is absolutely right about all our injuries--C.J. Davis for the whole season, Killingsworth for something like 25 of 27 games, Castlin for two-thirds of the season, and Meisner when we most needed him. If any of the latter three had been available, we would have won 3 or 4 more games, lost to Harvard in the tournament by less than Cornell, and established a better foundation for next season.

2018-2019 is really a fork in the road for Engles' and the whole Columbia program. We have three players whose starting role is pretty much a given--Smith, Meisner, and Adlesh. The offseason will determine who starts at center, in particular, by whether Tape or Faulds become more of an offensive threat and learn to pass better out of the high post. The position that is obviously most up for grabs is SF: it could be Killingsworth if he comes back strong, Ellis if he is as good as reputed, or even Hunter if after three years, he ever displays an offensive game. We will certainly be better. The problem is, of course, that with no seniors on any of the All-Ivy squads, an awful lot of very good players are returning, so that we could have a higher KenPom rating and still finish lower down in the IL.

In sum, as I have said elsewhere, I hope 8-19 is our version of Engles' 1-30 his first year at NJIT. If everyone develops and remains healthy, we could make the conference tournament. It is just as likely, however, that we will rise in KenPom and end up somewhere between 5th and 7th in the league.

Dr. V 
PhD Student
Posts: 1444

Reg: 11-21-04
03-12-18 05:09 PM - Post#252528    
    In response to cc66

I did not try to exculpate the coaching staff from any responsibility for the season. I was reacting to some of what I consider off the reservation comments about our coaches.

In all normal circumstances (normal in the sense that the new coach doesn't turn out to be an alcoholic or molester), a new basketball coach gets 3-5 years to show what he can do. I don't know how this coaching staff will turn out, but it's ridiculous to claim, as some here have done, that anyone can tell that our coaching staff won't succeed. You have to have your own players, which means you need 2-3 recruiting years, because those will fit more into what you like to do and because sometimes players from a prior regime think they know more than they actually do and are a little less amenable to guidance.

Predicting who will turn out to be a successful D1 coach in basketball or football is very, very difficult. Perhaps the only decently predictive factor is experience as a head coach on the D1 level and success on that level. I've been following CU basketball and football since 1971 and have seen innumerable coaches come and go both in basketball and football, and we know how that turned out. We're not going to pay somebody $2 or $3 million to come and coach for us. We hired someone who has D1 head coaching experience and unusual success at his previous venue. I'm optimistic that he will find a way to be successful because I want our program to succeed and because he has a record of prior success. Am I certain of success? Of course not. But there is certainly no well-grounded basis for some of the extreme comments claiming knowledge that there won't be success.

Any comparisons with Bagnoli are misplaced. He is near to being unique in terms of the record of success that he had at Penn as an Ivy coach. If I recall correctly, he won 11 titles in 20 years or something like that. In all my years, there are only two football coaches that have stood head and shoulders above all of the other Ivy coaches, Bagnoli and Cozza, and I think that although Bagnoli obviously had good players, I think, and our Penn friends can correct me if I'm wrong, that Cozza had a larger number of very good players than Bagnoli had. So Bagnoli, or his assistants, can today come into a recruit's house and give him and his parents a unique message: come play for us and you'll have a chance to play for a head coach who has won 11 championships. That we got Bagnoli was an extraordinary fluke of several timings coming together in a way that for once worked out great for us. There is not going to be any other new coach who is going to be in a similar position for us.

Did we over perform at times? Yes. Harvard had 3 ESPN top 100 kids on the floor against us, yet we beat them. I know that Princeton was tired from its 3 OTs plus trip from Ithaca, but on paper (recruiting rankings) they have significantly more talent yet we thrashed them. Penn has more talent, yet we played them close and tough until we collapsed at the end. Why did that happen? Was it because of some coaching shortcoming on our part or because Penn just executed and we didn't? And because, among other things, Penn had what many or most good teams have, which is good senior leadership.

The two games that were a real disappointment were the losses to Brown and Dartmouth, and the coaches must bear some responsibility for them. At Brown Smith drove into 3 defenders trying to score while Stefanini was waving his arms on the wing with no one near him. Bad play design? Bad judgment on the court? I don't know, but we should have won. At Dartmouth we came out flat. Deflated by the loss of Meisner? Trying to avoid coming out too tight? I don't know, but whatever it was, it didn't work, and the coaches have to take at least some responsibility for that, and I presume that they do in terms of analyzing what worked/didn't work this season.

PhD Student
Posts: 1748

Reg: 10-09-09
Fans, coaches and teams
03-12-18 07:08 PM - Post#252570    
    In response to Dr. V

I agree. By now, we just discussing small variations within the broad middle range of what exactly was Engles' responsibility.

I do think that part of the problem is that there is such a small window onto Engles' thinking. He's hard to read during games, rarely says anything beyond pro-forma coaches' talk during interview, and generally runs too tight a media ship. If he would open up a bit and give everyone some sense of what he was thinking, it would give fans a little more confidence and perhaps even defuse some of the antipathy.

Edited by cc66 on 03-12-18 07:09 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

Masters Student
Posts: 616

Age: 58
Reg: 09-13-11
Re: Fans, coaches and teams
03-17-18 10:51 AM - Post#253597    
    In response to cc66

One big change I'd make next season would be to put together a much easier non-league schedule. I don't know who was responsible for the difficult schedule, Engles or Pilling, but IMO it's self-defeating to play Villanova, Penn State, BC and UConn on the road. IMO, the team gets used to losing big early in the season.

On scheduling, I think Smith had it right. Play one or two national powerhouses early, but the rest of the non-league schedule should be filled with teams we have a decent chance of beating.

The difficult non-league road schedule works for baseball, but needless to say, basketball is a very different game. Basketball relies much more on rhythm, timing, flow and confidence, particularly on offense. Columbia needs to play many more winnable games early, to build confidence and to better prepare for IL play.

My only point in bring up Bagnoli was that even a brilliant, experienced, accomplished coach like Bagnoli had difficulty winning his first two years at CU, unitl his playbook began to take hold and his recruiting classes began to work through the program. All comparisons between Engles and Bagnoli stop there.

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