By Kevin Sweeney
NJIT head coach Jim Engles has reportedly agreed to become the new head coach at Columbia University, according to multiple media reports. He replaces Kyle Smith, who recently took the head coaching job at University of San Francisco.
In his time at NJIT, Engles pulled off one of the most remarkable rebuilds in all of college basketball. He inherited a program coming off of a winless campaign, yet quickly returned the team to respectability. He also helped in engineering the team’s move into the Atlantic Sun Conference, giving the team the potential to reach the NCAA Tournament, a goal that seemed impossible when he took over the program. The Highlanders won 20 or more games in each of the past 2 seasons, reaching the CIT semifinals in both seasons. He recorded an overall record of 111-139 in his 8 seasons with the Highlanders.
Engles has experience working at Columbia. From 2003-2008, Engles worked as an assistant coach under current Boston University head coach Joe Jones.
At Columbia, he inherits a team coming off of a 25 win campaign capped off by a CIT Championship run. However, Columbia loses its top 3 scorers from this year’s team. He will rely on the front line duo of Luke Petrasek and Jeff Coby to help ease the transition into a new era of Columbia basketball.
It will be interesting to see the effect of the coaching change on the incoming recruiting classes of both teams. Hiring from within could help NJIT hold onto its recruits.
Potential candidates that have been mentioned for the opening include NJIT assistant Brian Kennedy and former Pitt assistant Brandin Knight, a New Jersey native.