Updated on Oct. 27 at 12:26 p.m.
Though the season-opening tipoff is still more than two weeks away, the men's basketball team has already suffered a serious blow.
The athletic department confirmed that senior forward Alex Rosenberg, one of the Lions' leading scoreres, sustained a Jones fracture in his right foot during practice on Friday. The typical recovery time for the injury—the same one that sidelined reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant—is six to eight weeks.
"It's hard, a lot of emotions in that, but he's a strong kid," Light Blue head coach Kyle Smith said. "We feel bad for Alex, obviously, because he's worked so hard and he's been really important to our team."
"But these things happen," he added. "And we're going to adjust."
Rosenberg has been a mainstay in the starting lineup since his rookie season, and had a breakout junior year. He tied for the Ivy lead in scoring during conference play, averaging just under 20 points per game, en route to a first-team All-Ivy nod. His signature performance was a 34-point effort in a double-overtime loss to Harvard on Valentine's Day.
While he may be back on the court by the time Columbia opens Ivy play against Cornell on Jan. 17, Rosenberg might also be able to obtain a fifth-year waiver, take more time to rehab his injury, and return for the Lions' 2015-16 campaign. Unlike many other conferences, the Ivy League does not allow injury redshirts.
Between his scoring, versatility, and ability to draw fouls and make free throws—he knocked down 82 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe last season—Rosenberg was expected to lead the Lions to a second straight historic campaign. The Lions were picked to finish third in this year's preseason media poll, following last year's 21-win season that saw Columbia make the postseason for the first time since 1968.
This is the third time in four seasons the Light Blue has seen a key player sustain a major injury. In the second game of the 2011-12 season, then-senior guard and reigning Ivy scoring champion Noruwa Agho suffered a season-ending injury, and last season, in Columbia's thrilling win at Princeton, then-sophomore guard Grant Mullins suffered a head injury that kept him out of all but one remaining game.
The likely options to replace Rosenberg in the starting lineup are sophomore forwards Luke Petrasek, Jeff Coby, and Chris McComber. Petrasek started for Columbia during part of the nonconference season last year, and both he and Coby saw significant playing time throughout the season. McComber, on the other hand, wasn't able to work his way into the rotation after dealing with mono early in the season, but has been praised by head coach Kyle Smith for his talents.
"It's a team sport, and I think certain guys will have to step up a little bit. And they're more than willing," Smith said. "It's a question of capable. I think we will be."
Eli Schultz contributed reporting.
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