Harvard all-time moment No. 8: Dartmouth keeps Harvard in the dance

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Harvard is next because why not turn fat cells into lasers?

March 6’s bout between the Yale Bulldogs and the Harvard Crimson was the rubber match of the 2015 Ivy League season. People (like me!) called it “The Game 2.0.” Yale came into Crimson territory and left with a big win, one that seemed to ensure that the Bulldogs would go to the Big Dance for the first time in 53 years. All Yale needed to clinch sole possession of the Ivy League title was a win at Dartmouth the next night, or a Harvard loss to Brown. As for Harvard, there was only one way left for them to tie Yale for the Ivy title: Defeat Brown the following night and pray for the Big Green to shock the Bulldogs in Hanover.

The Crimson took care of business at Lavietes Pavilion, beating Brown 72-62 behind a strong second-half surge. As the Harvard-Brown game ended, a group of diehard Crimson fans in Lavietes turned their attention to the Dartmouth-Yale game, which Yale led by two with 10 minutes to go. The teams battled hard until, with 24 seconds remaining, Yale led by three and had possession of the ball. Then craziness ensued.

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Harvard all-time moment No. 9: Beating Bill Bradley in 1964

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Harvard is next because eight U.S. presidents attended Harvard, exactly half the current Republican presidential candidate field.

On Feb. 7, 1964, Harvard took the floor in front of a packed Harvard Indoor Athletic Building to face Bill Bradley’s Princeton Tigers. That year, Bradley would be named an All-American for the third time, lead the conference in scoring with 33.1 points per game and set the still standing Ivy record for most points in a season (936). He would lead Princeton to a 12-2 record and the Ivy League championship and even win the gold medal on the U.S. Olympic Basketball Team. On this winter night in Cambridge, however, Bill Bradley’s banner year was rudely interrupted by the Ivy League’s perennial bottom feeder.

Bradley had a below average night against Harvard, scoring only 30 points. On the other side, Harvard’s Merle McClung matched Bradley with 30 points of his own, and Keith Sedlacek dropped 31 points, leading the Crimson to a remarkable 88-82 victory. The monumental win over the best player the Ivy League has ever witnessed was huge for the Crimson, as it put them in a tie for first place at the time. Unfortunately, Harvard finished a lackluster 6-8 in Ivy play that year, continuing an 18-year title drought which didn’t end until 47 years later.

Harvard all-time moment No. 10: Clinching second NCAA Tournament appearance

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Harvard is next because a Harvard study has predicted the Miami Dolphins are going to the Super Bowl, and that’s totally going to happen.

Going into the final weekend of the 2013 Ivy League season, Princeton led Harvard by half a game, after Harvard had been swept by the P’s only a weekend earlier. The Tigers were in control of their own destiny: three wins and they would be in the tournament. However, Friday night had yielded a Harvard win and a Princeton loss, essentially tying the two teams atop the conference. A Crimson win over Cornell and a Princeton loss to Brown would clinch the tournament for Harvard, but if both teams won out – as was expected –  another Ivy playoff would ensue.

Harvard vs. Cornell began at 5:30 p.m. in Cambridge, while Princeton vs. Brown began a half hour later in Providence. Harvard led Cornell all game and won by nine points, behind 16 points from Siyani Chambers and 17 points from Laurent Rivard. Then all attention turned to Providence, where Brown led Princeton by four points at the half, leading many Harvard fans and players to stick around Lavietes Pavilion in case something miraculous happened. One fan was able to turn on the PA system, and he announced the score every time a bucket was scored. As the game wound down, Brown gained a commanding lead. The Harvard crowd became giddy with excitement as the Crimson clinched their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance (more on that later).

Check out the last few seconds of this video to see the Harvard fans’ reaction.

 

Wesley Saunders agrees to deal with New York Knicks

Shams Charania of RealGM reported Friday night that former Harvard standout Wesley Saunders has agreed to a partially guaranteed deal by the New York Knicks. Further details have not yet been released.

Saunders, 2013-14 Ivy Player of the Year and a 2015 graduate, averaged just 3.4 points per game during his NBA Summer League stint with the Utah Jazz.

Partially guaranteed contracts signed mid-summer usually result in a training camp audition, which is still great news for Saunders, who now has the chance to follow Jeremy Lin, a 2010 Harvard graduate, as a former Crimson star turned Knicks standout.

Saunders averaged 12.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game for his collegiate career, including 16.6 points and 6.1 boards per contest last season.

Knicks blog Posting & Toasting notes that the Knicks have plenty of backcourt minutes available, meaning that “Saunders can gun for a full guarantee and perhaps a share of those minutes.”

Wesley Saunders will play for Utah Jazz in NBA Summer League

The new Jazzman.
The new Jazzman.

Per reports from RealGM and SB Nation, recent Harvard graduate Wesley Saunders will play in the NBA Summer League next month as a member of the Utah Jazz.

The news is not surprising, as Saunders participated in a pre-draft workout for the Jazz on June 15, according to Jody Genessy of the Deseret News.

Utah will play six games this summer plus a tournament at the end of the slate.

Of the 13 players who played for the Summer League Jazz in 2014, only four actually played for the Jazz in the 2014-15 regular season, and only one of those four players were undrafted (Ian Clark).

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Will Wesley Saunders be drafted?

cWesley Saunders 8

Wesley Saunders is looking to make history on Thursday night. If Saunders hears his name called during the NBA Draft, he will become the first Ivy League player to be drafted in 20 years (Jerome Allen, 1995), and the first Harvard player ever to be drafted. If Saunders finds his way to the NBA through the draft or a different route, he will be only the eleventh player in the Ivy League’s storied, 60-year history to reach the Association. Yes, Wesley Saunders could be in rarefied air.

Saunders torched Ivy and high-major defenses alike in his illustrious four years with the Crimson, and he has certainly gotten the attention of NBA scouts, who reserved themselves seats at most of the Crimson’s home games this past season. Wesley Saunders may be a once-in-a-decade Ivy League player, but how does he compare to the top college prospects in the land who are also vying for NBA contracts? Here are a few possible scenarios to get you set for the draft…

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Wesley Saunders’ NBA Draft stock

Does Wesley Saunders have a shot of getting taken in the NBA Draft?

History says … um, no.

Jerome Allen remains the last Ivy player selected in the NBA Draft, taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round in 1995. (The last Crimson player to be taken in the draft was Keith Webster, by the Utah Jazz, in 1987.)

But what about a guy who wins an Ivy crown in every year of his collegiate career, ranked No. 46 in ESPN’s countdown of top 100 players in college basketball and was always an ace in the biggest games of his career, a guy who was the greatest scorer, ball distributor, pocket-picker and clutch player in the league over the past couple of seasons?

Of course, Saunders was that guy, and several NBA Draft prognosticators have taken notice.

CBS Sports currently has Saunders ranked No. 75 in its NBA Draft Prospect rankings, which isn’t far off its No. 73 ranking for Saunders when previewing the NBA Draft Combine, which was held this week. In fact, CBS Sports had Saunders ranked No. 96 in its ranking just a month ago, so it would appear that Saunders’ draft stock is rising.

Unfortunately, there are only 60 total selections in the NBA Draft, and Saunders is easily on the outside looking in.

I think DraftExpress.com’s evaluation of Saunders last month underestimated Saunders’ defensive skills, calling him “a bit of a mixed bag” when he’s been a consistently outstanding on-the-ball defender both in and out of conference play. I do agree that Saunders would struggle to get to the rim at the NBA level and that his outside shooting will be a crucial sell throughout the evaluation process. Ultimately, as DraftExpress notes, “Even if Saunders doesn’t get drafted, he should find numerous professional opportunities and may play his way into the NBA at some point during his career.” That’s for sure.

ALL FOOLS’ DAY: Harvard reloads with a good friend of ours

Longtime Harvard basketball booster Thomas Stemberg on Wednesday announced the appointment of the boosters’ latest Director of Communications.

“I am delighted to report what I consider a recruiting coup on a par with the Keith Wright hocus pocus of several years ago. IHO’s Ancient Quaker has signed a contract in perpetuity with our club.’

The AQ recently resigned his position as Chairman Emeritus of the End the Nightmare Society in the City of Brotherly Love, a move most observers expected after the nightmare ended.

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ALL FOOLS’ DAY: Harvard awards Tommy Amaker honorary degree

Harvard announced Tuesday that Tommy Amaker will receive an honorary degree from the university.

Amaker will be awarded a Doctor of Sports for his excellence in recruiting, the university announced.

“We’ve created a Doctor of Sports just for Tommy Amaker because of the outstanding success he’s brought to our men’s basketball program,” Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust said in a statement. “He just wins, baby.”

“The best thing about this honor is we’ve won the right way,” Amaker said. “We don’t fudge things around here. That makes this honor all the more satisfying.”

ALL FOOLS’ DAY: Siyani Chambers to declare for NBA Draft

Harvard guard Siyani Chambers will declare for June’s NBA Draft, a source at the NBA league office tells Ivy Hoops Online.

Chambers averaged 9.9 points and 4.3 assists per game as he started all 28 of the Crimson’s games this season. His points per game declined for the second straight season, but Draft Express projects Chambers as a late second-round player who should be taken by one of Philadelphia’s 13 second-round picks in the draft.

Chambers declined comment for this story but reviews from NBA executives are mixed at best, with one Western Conference general manager telling IHO “Siyani Chambers is “certainly a guard” and a scout who works for an Eastern Conference team asking, “Seriously? Am I being punked? Is that still a topical reference?”

With Chambers declaring along with seven seniors graduating including Wesley Saunders, Steve Mondou-Missi and Jonah Travis, Harvard’s projected 2015-16 lineup as of now is Corbin Miller, Agunwa Okolie, Patrick Steeves, an advanced basketball-playing android developed at MIT named Wendell and Kevin Love.