Everyone was surprised that Conte Forum sold out. Generally, the only traveling acts that fill the stands at BC are UNC and Duke. But curiosity got the best of the Eagle faithful, and they came out in droves to see their surprisingly capable neighbors from Cambridge take the court.
It made for a weird atmosphere. The Eagles are a bad basketball team; a kick to the teeth is just too inevitable for fans to muster much enthusiasm. Still, a 14-3 run to start the game brought some life to the crowd. I left for a few minutes with BC leading 20-11 to give a ticket a friend, and when I got back to my seat, the score was tied.
At that point, the building deflated. We jokingly called it Conte Library. For roughly the last 30 minutes of the game, the crowd had the ambience of a baseball game between innings. It was the same passing interest one might have in a re-run of a game on television: the outcome already in the books, observation supersedes any sense of competition.
For many locals, I imagine, that was the appeal of this game. It was a chance to see Harvard, the No. 23/24 team in the nation, in the flesh. No one expected a competitive game (and this victory was by far the easiest of the Crimson’s four consecutive wins over the Eagles), so fans were more interested in forming an opinion on this anomalous Ivy crew.
I’m not sure what they could have taken away. Laurent Rivard had a hot hand (for the second straight year), and Corbin Miller hit some second-half threes—not exactly a comprehensive picture of the Harvard offense. The Eagles’ unsightly attack mustered just 13 second-half points, rendering much
of the action unwatchable. With Kyle Casey, Wes Saunders, and Steve Moundou-Missi playing 18, 10, and three minutes respectively, the Crimson forewent any highlight-reel play in favor of a solid, fundamental brand of basketball that’s unlikely to leave a lasting impression. I’m guessing most fans went home more depressed at the state of BC basketball than dazzled by this Harvard squad.
But from the perspective of a Crimson supporter, last night’s 67-46 victory was particularly sweet for its banality. It was business as usual, and, for at least one more year, Harvard can take comfort in its reign as the king of the Hub’s college basketball landscape.