On Monday night, Harvard’s tough defense and late-game toughness pushed the Crimson over Boston University, 70-56, at Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge. For the first thirty minutes of the game, Harvard and BU traded leads and the scrappy Terriers just would not go away. Then halfway through the second half, Harvard pulled ahead for good on a Wesley Saunders three-pointer, and the game was never in doubt after that. BU’s head coach, Joe Jones, noted after the game that Harvard played like a “winning team” down the stretch, and BU simply did not.
Once again, Saunders had an outstanding night, with 15 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Great performances from Saunders are becoming the norm (he is currently the only player in the NCAA averaging at least 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game), so it was another Harvard player’s performance that caught the attention of Crimson fans.
Sophomore guard Corbin Miller had his most promising game of the season against BU, scoring 14 points. Most notably, he shot a career-high 13 three-pointers (hitting three of them), three more than his previous career high, which he set last week vs. UVM. So what was so promising about Miller’s 3-for-13 three-point shooting performance? It was this: Although he missed shots early, he persisted in shooting the three-pointer when he had the open shot. This newfound confidence is just what the Crimson need from Miller as he works to establish himself as their next long-range sharpshooter.
Firing away has defined Miller’s season so far: he has taken at least six three-point shots in six of the Crimson’s first eight games. Miller has hit an average of 2.4 three-pointers per game, giving him a long-range shooting percentage of 37 percent this season. To put Miller’s shooting statistics in perspective, Laurent Rivard shot 43 percent last season, averaging almost the same number of made three-pointers per game (2.5) while taking about one less three-point shot per game (5.8) than Miller.
So Corbin Miller is no Laurent Rivard — yet. But given that he is only a sophomore, not being quite as good as the best three-point shooter in Harvard history is no knock on his play of late. Ultimately, Miller’s game is moving in the right direction, especially his self-confidence, which is the first and most important step. His potential role in Harvard’s offense is significant, and as his shooting stroke develops, opposing defenses will see him more and more as a major threat.
Next up for Harvard is undefeated Virginia on December 21 in Charlottesville. If Miller can get hot in that game, and Saunders plays like he always plays, Harvard will give the Cavaliers a run for their money.