Stephen Pianovich (@SPianovich)
(Ed. Note: This article is part of CoBL's 2015-16 College Season Preview, which will run from October 2-November 13, the first day of games. For the complete rundown, click here)
Pat Smith’s freshman season at Cornell was riddled with injuries. Unfortunately for the Archbishop Wood graduate, his second year with the Big Red is off to a similar start.
Smith has yet to start practicing this season, sidelined with a hip injury. A timetable for his return is unclear, Cornell head coach Bill Courtney disclosed in the Ivy League conference call last week.
Smith appeared in only 12 of the Big Red’s 30 games last season due to two separate injuries: broken ribs and a broken nose/concussion. Now with his third injury in 12 months, Smith is again limited on the sidelines, rather than competing for considerable minutes – which Courtney said he would be doing if healthy.
“He really had a productive offseason. He got bigger, stronger, faster, really was shooting the basketball well,” Courtney said. “He was going to be contending for a starting position.”
In the dozen games Smith was healthy enough to play in last season, he made one start and scored 32 points (2.7 ppg). Ten of those points game against Princeton when he made that start and connected on all three of his 3-point attempts. But he got hurt soon after.
Smith has not been lucky when it’s come to health since his college career started, but what Courtney likes about the 6-foot-5, 195-pound sophomore is that he’s an “underrated athlete” and a “big-time shooter.”
“The one thing about Pat is that he’s a tough kid,” Courtney said. “You can tell he’s from that area, he has that Philadelphia spirit and the spirit of Rocky. He’s going to battle back. He does whatever he needs to do in the training room to try to get back.”
A four-year varsity player at Wood, Smith scored 1,000 points in his high school career and also posted a school record 42 in one game. Cornell could use some of his scoring ability this season, as the Big Red were picked last in the Ivy League’s preseason poll and are coming off a season in which they went 13-17 with a 5-9 league mark.
As Cornell tries to find its way in the sixth season of the Courtney era, the coach hopes Smith can return to the court as soon as possible. But until then, Smith is trying to make the most of a less-than-ideal start to his time at Cornell.
"He’s together with his teammates, he’s doing a great job on the sidelines while he’s hurt,” Courtney said. “He’s working out, trying to stay in shape, and he’s doing a terrific job. Even with all the injuries he’s had, you could be down and depressed, but he hasn’t done that. He’s been a great member of our ball club.”