The Crimson wrapped up their second sweep in a row this past weekend, beating Brown and Yale one week after taking down Princeton and Penn. Harvard didn’t just win these games, it did so handily, looking like the league’s top team in the process. A Jan. 10 loss at Wofford put the Crimson at 6-10. Since then, they are 8-1. Why?
Harvard 61 vs Dartmouth 51
An ugly win is still a win. Harvard fans can take comfort in that fact after the Crimson’s home win over the Big Green, a game that was very much up for grabs until Harvard pulled away with 4-for-4 three-point shooting in a 3:54 span late in the game during which Dartmouth was held scoreless, turning a 45-45 tie into a 54-45 cushion. Harvard notched the win despite Bryce Aiken missing nearly the entire game in a brief return from injury after missing the last four games with a knee injury. Harvard committed 19 turnovers, not a particularly good sign. But the Crimson were led by a career-high 12 points from Christian Juzang and 16 points on 5-for-13 shooting from Seth Towns. Harvard entered the game as one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country but lit Dartmouth up from deep, going 12-for-25 (48 percent), easily besting Dartmouth’s paltry 5-for-19 (26.3 percent) clip.
Princeton 70 at Penn 55
The Princeton Tigers improve to 11-3 overall and, more importantly, 1-0 in the Ivy League, as they beat the two time defending champion Penn Quakers (6-5, 0-1 Ivy) for the first time in over 1,000 days. The Orange & Black looked as if they would run away from the Red & Blue when they opened up a 10-point lead with 3:36 left in the first half, but Penn went on a 7-0 run to go into the break down 31-28.
In the second half, the Tigers upped the defensive effort, frustrating the Quakers time and time again as they created another 10-point lead with 8:33 left in the fourth quarter. Unlike the first half, Princeton would not let Penn shift the game’s momentum and cruised to a 15-point victory on their rival’s home court.
Some quick thoughts:
Last season, Harvard lost to Yale in heartbreaking fashion in the first round of the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. The Crimson graduated Siyani Chambers and Zena Edosomwan, both of whom made indelible impacts on the program. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a successful Harvard season without Siyani Chambers. And yet, the Crimson comes into the 2017-18 season as the preseason favorite, according to the Ivy Preseason Media Poll. While the poll predicted an incredibly close race between Harvard and familiar foes Yale and Princeton, the sentiment of the voters is clear: No one expects Harvard to take a step back this year. Here are the details on how Harvard hopes to turn high expectations on paper into actual success on the court:
Harvard women’s basketball tries to keep upper division streak alive
The Harvard women’s basketball team released its 2017-18 schedule and hopes to build on its post-season Ivy Tournament appearance and first-round WNIT victory in 2016-17. This will be the 36th season for legendary head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, who is the only coach to ever guide a No. 16 seed in a victory over a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Smith’s teams have been in the Ivy upper division for 32 of her 35 seasons at Harvard, while placing in the top three each of the last 14 years. With the continuation of the postseason Ivy Tournament, the odds look strong for the Crimson to return to the Palestra in early March.
Former Harvard guard Jeremy Lin (2006 -10) was interviewed by his Brooklyn Nets teammate on the “Outside Shot with Randy Foye” podcast on May 10. After discussing the early part of his basketball career, Lin was asked if he was subjected to racial slurs when playing on the road. The NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent stated that he suffered more racist abuse during his time in college than in the pros.
Two games will likely define Harvard’s season. The narrative surrounding this team — whether Harvard is back as a mainstay in the Big Dance as one of the top mid-major programs in the country, or if they were just too young — will be decided by two games. Two 40-minute games for all the marbles, because 14 is so “last year.” Like it or not, the Ivy League Tournament is here, it’s here to stay … and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Here’s what to watch for from Harvard’s perspective.
With that being said, I do want to raise one quick issue about the Ivy League Tournament. I will still gripe that it should be just three teams, but if that had been the case going into tonight, we would have been robbed of a pretty fantastic moment.
The Crimson played two wild games this past weekend, as Harvard took down Penn before dropping a stunning game to Princeton. On Friday night, the Crimson trailed 19-4 before storming back to beat Penn. On Saturday night, Harvard staged a double-digit comeback to lead Princeton late, but missed free throws, silly fouls and some rebounding issues led to this wild ending and a Harvard loss. Here are a few of my thoughts on Harvard at this point in the season: