When men’s basketball star player Noruwa Agho fell to the ground holding his left knee with 6:19 remaining in Monday’s game against Furman, all of Levien Gymnasium fell silent as fans realized the consequences if the Lions’ lead scorer was injured.
Agho left the court on crutches, and yesterday, head coach Kyle Smith confirmed that the senior point guard is out indefinitely, with his return this season highly unlikely.
“We’re planning on not having him anytime in the near future or the late future,” Smith said.
With Agho gone, the Light Blue is left with a huge gap to fill on the offensive end, but Smith said he wants to make as few structural changes as possible.
Sophomore guard Meiko Lyles is expected to take Agho’s spot in the starting five, though he is not fully back into his playing form from the end of last season due to a lack of playing time. It will be mostly up to Lyles, junior guard Brian Barbour, and junior center Mark Cisco to run the offense.
“Noruwa takes about 30 shots a game, and now those are opened up,” Cisco said. “A lot of those shots are going to be distributed between me and Brian and also the people filling his playing time.”
Cisco knows that he and his teammates will be asked to step up their play in order to fill Agho’s spot, but he is confident that the Lions are ready to do that.
In addition to utilizing Columbia’s big men at the post, Smith believes the key to moving forward will be to bring it back to the basics.
“There’s an emotional shot that your team takes, and as we change, we just have to bear down on the fundamentals—the little things—because that’s really what you can control,” Smith said.
The exact nature or extent of Agho’s injury is still unclear. On Tuesday, Dalen Cuff—CC ’06, a former player on the team, and a commentator for the Athletic Department—tweeted that the initial diagnosis was a torn patellar tendon. This statement has not been confirmed, and team officials declined to comment on Agho’s status.
Regardless of those details, the Light Blue must find a way to win games without the senior captain for at least the time being.
“Everyone has a vision of what they want the team to be like, but once we start to actually play games without Noruwa, we’ll see what it’s like and what the dynamic is,” Cisco said.
The team’s first test will be Saturday when it takes on American at home.