How Joe Jones forced me to think over Thanksgiving break
I had a strange experience over Thanksgiving break, and any Columbia student could have had the same one if he’d turned on his TV on Friday. I turned the channel to ESPN2, and bam: there was former Columbia head basketball coach Joe Jones, now the associate head coach at Boston College. It got me thinking about not only this years Columbia men’s basketball team, but about the state of the program that Joe Jones left when he went to BC.
In Sunday’s game against American, the young players on the squad led a come-from-behind victory in which Columbia trailed by 14 points with less than nine minutes left. Freshmen guards Dyami Starks and Van Green led the comeback, and sophomore gaurd Brian Barbour contributed as well.
Watching the team this year, I’ve come to realize something I didn’t think was true until this weekend: Joe Jones left this team with talent. Like, a lot of it. All of a sudden, we have McDonald’s High School All-America nominees on our roster. And that transition from Pat Foley that was supposed to leave the team in a state of flux? Brian Barbour can play, and play well for a sophomore in his first significant playing time.
I was upset when Joe Jones bolted. I thought the fact that he walked out on his players and the fans for an associate coaching gig showed that he didn’t think he could ever win at Columbia. But maybe both sides made the right decision here. Clearly, as evidenced by the talent on this roster, Jones’ skill lies in recruiting rather than making in-game decisions. And while the verdict is still out on new head coach Kyle Smith, I like what he has done so far. A lot of people picked this team to stink (they were picked to finish seventh in the Ivy League) and I think they are showing that they are better than that.
I’m not saying that this team is going to win the Ivies this year, but they’ve proven themselves to be dynamic and exciting to watch for fans. Any team that can bring the rain like Columbia can—and has a player like Noruwa Agho on it—is fun to watch.
But let’s be careful about jumping to conclusions on coaching ability after just one season. Remember, Norries Wilson went 5-5 his first season, and we all see how that’s going today.
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