Men’s basketball will travel to Philadelphia to take on St. Joseph’s this Monday, looking to improve to 2-0.
The Light Blue’s first win of the season, a 73-66 win at Stony Brook, marked head coach Jim Engles’ first at the helm of the program. But other new faces also shined, as first-year guard Mike Smith ended Stony Brook’s comeback bid with five points and a charge in the game’s final 16 seconds.
First-years like Smith and players who didn’t see significant action last season will likely play a key role at St. Joseph’s (1-0), since both Smith and first-year guard Jake Killingsworth started in their first collegiate contest. Sophomore guards Rodney Hunter and Quinton Adlesh saw little to no action last year, and both played key roles in the win.
A more familiar name, sole returning starter and senior forward Luke Petrasek will also look to take on a heavier load as the season progresses. The 6-foot-10 big man led all scorers with 20 points in just 22 minutes of play on Friday. He also excelled on the defensive end, but if the Light Blue plan to build a winning streak at St. Joseph’s, the team will have to focus its defensive efforts on the perimeter.
Coming off of an NCAA Tournament win last season, the Hawks are led by the guard duo of Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble, who combined for 44 of St. Joseph’s 77 points in their one-point win over Toledo to start the season. Newkirk led all scorers with 28 points, also pulling down seven boards.
But the Lions flexed a solid man-to-man perimeter defense in their season debut, with junior guard Nate Hickman, Smith, and sophomore guard CJ Davis playing man forcing Stony Brook’s top guards to shoot a paltry four-of-13 and three-of-nine from the floor. They did, however, lose the rebounding war by seven—a partial result of missing senior forward Jeff Coby to a minor hamstring issue and losing junior guard Kyle Castlin for the season.
Coby’s status for Monday’s matchup is uncertain, but even if he doesn’t play, the Hawks shouldn’t pose much of a threat to the Light Blue big men on the boards. They lost their top rebounders from last year’s A-10 conference title run, Isaiah Miles and first-round NBA Draft pick DeAndre’ Bembry, to graduation.
Sophomore forward Lukas Meisner led Columbia in that department, grabbing 12 rebounds despite going one-for-nine from the field. The German native’s scoring should bounce back in Philadelphia, but his uptick in rebounding numbers should encourage Engles heading forward.
The Light Blue tip off in Hagan Arena at 7 p.m. on Monday.