Department of Redundancy: Harvard Beats BC

Laurent Rivard led the way with 18 points, as the Crimson picked up a road win at Boston College for the fourth straight year. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

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.

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Common Opponents Analysis (Updated 1/4/12)

The transitive property is not the most reliable method for comparing teams, so despite what Elon says, we're not ready to put Dartmouth ahead of Princeton in our Power Poll.

With about six weeks of play in the books, we thought it was time to look back at the league”s common opponents to see if we could glean any knowledge from what”s happened on the court so far. Everyone knows that the transitive property carries limited weight in sports, but it”s still interesting to see how a team fares against multiple conference foes. Without further ado…

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Tweet of the Week

In this series, we examine the wisest, most insightful, and profound Twitter musings of our favorite Ivy scholars who also happen to play basketball.

The line between a brilliant idea and an obvious one is tenuous. You can chase a supposedly smart thought around your brain only to look up and realize that

somewhere you crossed the line into stupidity. It happens all the time, and this week it happened to Harvard freshman Wes Saunders.

The nature of language has long fascinated scholars like Wes: how does air manipulated by our mouths into sound waves transform into meaning? How is this the case in every corner of the word? Linguistics, which served as a launching point for the careers of such luminaries as Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker, brushes up against every discipline from philosophy to sociology. It is so fundamental to our lives that we hardly ever think about it. Thankfully, we have Wes to remind us of language’s awesome power. 

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IHO's Mid-December Power Poll

Harvard coach Tommy Amaker is probably dancing because his team is #1 in IHO's first Power Poll of the season. (Photo Credit: AP)

Welcome to the first IHO Power Poll (based on games through 12/16/11). Please note that these rankings are based off of our best guesses of how the Ivy League picture will sort itself out. We always love to hear your gripes and whines in the comments below.

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Tweet of the Week

In this series, we examine the wisest, most insightful, and profound Twitter musings of our favorite Ivy scholars who also happen to play basketball.

After a monumental win, you’d forgive a player for experiencing a range of emotions. Sometimes the mood is joyous and proud; other times it’s tired and reflective. Rarely, if ever, is it indignant. But Harvard forward Kyle Casey blazed a new trail with this reaction after the Crimson beat No. 20/22 Florida St. last week:

After two games’ worth of commentary extolling the virtue of Harvard’s unselfish, team-first approach, the irony of Casey’s tweet was rich and delicious. I laughed out loud because it so flagrantly violated the expectations of the moment. I wasn’t alone in my surprise either, as I received an email just minutes after the post with the subject heading, “what a dick”. But such a public display of egotism is so easy to criticize that I’d rather explore what’s praiseworthy about it.

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Battle 4 Atlantis: Harvard Defense Wins Championship

Harvard won the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis by beating Central Florida, 59-49, for its third win in as many days. (Photo credit: facebook.com)

The team that won the Battle 4 Atlantis was not one that we knew. Since when has Harvard been a shutdown defense? A team that allowed 1.015 points per possession last season yielded just .737 points per possession against Utah, .684 points against Florida St., and .849 points against Central Florida. Since when has the Crimson so thoroughly cleaned the glass? A team that struggled on the boards against the likes of MIT and Holy Cross won each rebounding battle, 37-26, 36-26, and 35-33 against the Utes, the Seminoles, and the Knights, respectively.

Harvard took its game to a different level for three nights on the fittingly named Paradise Island. It was a collective effort. Just as the Versus announcers struggled to name a tournament MVP from the Crimson’s roster (the distinction fell almost by default to senior forward Keith Wright), it’s difficult to single out a player who didn’t carry his weight. Junior Christian Webster struggled with his shot but hit two threes to open an early lead against Central Florida; Wright notched just two field goals against Florida St. (both were timely dunks), but he grabbed eight rebounds; senior guard Oliver McNally deferred most of the ball-handling duties to Brandyn Curry, but he snagged 10 boards and racked up eight assists in the final two games of the tournament. There are too many examples to completely enumerate.

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Battle 4 Atlantis: It’s OK If You Enjoyed a 46-41 Game; I Did

Harvard pulled off a big upset of No. 20/22 Florida St. with a 46-41 victory last night. (Photo credit: thecrimson.com)

Charles Bukowski once said poetry is like a beer shit. He meant it as a compliment; in fact he could think of no higher praise. To him a warm beer shit represented dirty realism, an urgency for the elemental, a celebration of baseness. The stink was a reminder of man’s primal essence, unencumbered by the superfluities of his world.

Harvard-Florida St. was a beer shit. The first half—with its historically low scoring output—was offensive (as in, unpleasant), and it was hardly redeemed by the relatively explosive second period. The Twitter-verse rightly derided the contest as ugly. But at least to this viewer, it was also poetry.

With shots misfiring from all over the court, each possession carried a heightened importance; each made basket was extra precious, knowing that this field goal might make the ultimate difference. This urgency translated into a competitiveness so palpable that, despite my mounting frustration at the two stalled offenses, all I could think was, “Wow, these guys are playing hard.” And isn’t that the essence of the game?

On most days, we celebrate skill and virtuosity, but, really, talent is only part of the equation. Hard work and desire are fundamentally the game’s fuel. Because talent was on a low-burn yesterday (and that’s being generous), we got to glimpse these teams’ reserves. It became a battle of wills rather than a battle of skills. And, while those who favor aesthetics likely prefer the latter, the former has its own kind of Bukowskian beauty.

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Battle 4 Atlantis: Harvard Crushes Utes

Brandyn Curry led Harvard to an easy victory over Utah in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis. (Photo credit: gocrimson.com)

What a terrible game. Almost nobody could endure it in person, and I imagine very few suffered through the entire HDNet telecast. Technically, Harvard’s 75-47 win over Utah made 2011-12 the fifth straight season that the Crimson has topped a BCS program. But this game had all the excitement of an airport delay.

A few interesting developments stood out from the boredom. One was junior forward Christian Webster showing some life. Last season’s second-leading scorer racked up just nine points in the first three games of the season. His two-for-seven shooting line (two-of-six from three) is not exactly impressive, but it is progress. Webster scored eight points in a two-and-a-half minute stretch late in the first half, and for the first time this season he seemed involved in the offense. The junior added three rebounds, two assists, and three steals in 19 minutes of limited action.

Brandyn Curry was the only sizzle in the blowout. The Harvard guard connected on three acrobatic layups, including one in which he drove down the middle of the lane, faked a pass with his left hand before Euro-stepping and finishing with his right. He (along with Kyle Casey) commanded the game in the decisive early moments, posting nine points and three assists in 20 minutes.

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This Weekend's Top Performers (11/20/11)

Penn's Zack Rosen is averaging 23 ppg through four games. More importantly, the Quakers are out to an encouraging 3-1 start. (Photo Credit: penngazettesports.com)

The Ivy League shook off its sluggish start to the season this weekend, going 6-1 and improving to 10-13 against Division-I opponents. This weekend also saw Brown, Dartmouth, and Princeton pick up their first D-1 wins of the season, while Harvard continues to roll over inferior opponents, no matter what coast the Crimson is playing on.

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An Ugly Win's a Win: Harvard at Holy Cross

Co-captain Keith Wright flushes an alley-oop for two of his 15 points in a Harvard victory over Holy Cross last night. (Photo credit: gocrimson.com)

For the first 32 minutes, Tuesday night’s game at Holy Cross was reminiscent of last year’s early season matchup against Bryant. In both instances, Harvard played down to the level of its opponent—so far beneath its potential that you had to wonder if the Crimson would be able to snap out of its funk in time to avoid the loss. This time, Harvard didn’t need to rally in the last minute as it did against the Bulldogs, instead relying on a spark from freshman forward Wesley Saunders to jumpstart a decisive run over the final eight minutes of a 73-64 win.

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