Harvard Season Preview – Crimson in clover

When Harvard lost six out of its first seven games against Division I opponents last season, you could hear them. When Harvard started out Ivy play 2-7, you could hear them. When Harvard finished the season 14-16 with a 6-8 record in the Ivy League, you could really hear them.

The murmurs.

Maybe you even started hearing them last August when it was announced that Siyani Chambers had torn his ACL, and that he would miss the entire 2015-16 season. Or maybe they became audible on Jan. 18, 2015, when Harvard landed Chris Lewis, the first of seven recruits who, on paper, comprise the best recruiting class on paper in Ivy League history. Or maybe they started five years ago when current Harvard senior Zena Edosomwan became the first ever top-100 recruit to commit to an Ivy League school.

Read moreHarvard Season Preview – Crimson in clover

Harvard Season Preview: Watch Out For the “Rebuilding” Crimson

Even after five straight Ivy titles and two NCAA Tournament wins, leading this year’s Harvard team to another title would probably be the greatest accomplishment of Tommy Amaker’s career. It’s not that Harvard doesn’t have talent – but other teams may have much more proven talent. Here are my thoughts about the ‘15-’16 Harvard basketball team, taking into account the players’ performances on October 16 at Crimson Madness (the season’s kickoff practice and scrimmage at Lavietes Pavilion, which is open to the public) and how last season unfolded.

Read moreHarvard Season Preview: Watch Out For the “Rebuilding” Crimson

Harvard all-time moment No. 3: Harvard beats Yale in 2015 Ivy playoff

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 Jonah Travis is a master Tweeter.

With 28 seconds remaining in March 7’s Yale-Dartmouth game, Harvard had a 0.41 percent chance to advance to the NCAA Tournament (according to KenPom). The Crimson needed Dartmouth to pull out a miracle victory to force a one-game playoff between Harvard and Yale, and even then the Crimson would need to win that game to earn an NCAA bid. By the time those 28 seconds elapsed, Dartmouth had taken care of the “miracle victory” part of the equation, setting the stage for an epic Ivy League battle at the Palestra between two archrivals who had split the season series.

Read moreHarvard all-time moment No. 3: Harvard beats Yale in 2015 Ivy playoff

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.

Final thoughts on the 2014-15 Harvard season

Harvard took North Carolina to the wire last week in Jacksonville, bowing 67-65 to the Tar Heels in the Crimson's sixth NCAA tournament game since 2012. (Rob Crawford)
Harvard took North Carolina to the wire last week in Jacksonville, bowing 67-65 to the Tar Heels in the Crimson’s sixth NCAA tournament game since 2012. (Rob Crawford)

A few days after watching Harvard’s season end in Jacksonville with Wesley Saunders’ final shot clanking off the rim and backboard, it seems an appropriate time to look back on the Crimson season that was. Amid the shock and nostalgia comes perspective … and withdrawal. Here are my final thoughts on Harvard’s memorable 2014-15 season:

Read moreFinal thoughts on the 2014-15 Harvard season

How Harvard can beat North Carolina

1. Play to your strengths

The only way Harvard can win this game is if they continue to play stingy defense and to rebound exceptionally well. UNC boasts the 44th-best defensive efficiency in the country (with the second-toughest “strength of schedule”), so Harvard has practically no chance of winning a high-scoring game. Also, the Crimson must limit Carolina’s scoring opportunities by not allowing the Tar Heels any offensive rebounds. At the other end of the court, offensive rebounds would be a bonus for the Crimson, but second chances against this UNC defense (which held Duke’s Jahlil Okafor to his lowest offensive rating of the season) won’t be easy to come by. If the Crimson’s defense isn’t clicking, the Tar Heels will be headed to the round of 32.

Read moreHow Harvard can beat North Carolina

Should you root for Harvard?

Don
Don”t you just love watching Harvard celebrate? Oh right, you probably don”t. (gocrimson.com)

With Harvard set to take on North Carolina Thursday in the Crimson’s fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance, Peter Andrews and I debate whether non-Harvard Ivy hoops fans should root for the Crimson to win their third straight opening NCAA tourney game.

MT: Look, I know you probably hate Harvard. And you have every reason to.

The cheating scandal that forced Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry to withdraw from the team in 2012-13 only to win another Ivy title the following year.

The loosening of academic standards for basketball players.

The sending of an assistant out on “unethical recruiting trips.”

The way Harvard teases Ivy fans every year by getting entangled in close games against underdog conference competition only to emerge victorious almost every time. (The Crimson have won five straight games this season decided by three points or fewer.)

But Harvard beating UNC wouldn’t be so bad.

Read moreShould you root for Harvard?

Crimson survives at Brown, prevails at Yale

Reports of Harvard's demise were proven premature in New Haven Saturday night.
Reports of Harvard’s demise were proven premature in New Haven Saturday night.

The Crimson’s season hung in the balance: There were eight seconds left and Harvard trailed by two points. A loss would seriously hurt the Crimson’s chances of even a share of the Ivy title.

This was not the narrative for Harvard’s Saturday night tilt against league-leader Yale, however – this was the storyline of their game against bottom-dweller Brown on Friday.

Read moreCrimson survives at Brown, prevails at Yale

Harvard responds with resounding wins at Princeton and Penn

With one Ivy weekend in the books, the Crimson are looking up at Yale in the Ivy standings. Harvard is fortunate to only be one game back, however, considering the two tough road tests that loomed prior to this past weekend. Penn-Princeton on the road doesn’t mean two guaranteed losses like it used to for Harvard, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cakewalk, either. In two must-win games, Harvard needed to respond with two wins. They did just that, and more.

On Friday, the Crimson headed to New Jersey to face the Tigers of Princeton. Not only were they facing a formidable Princeton bunch; they were playing in an arena in which only one Harvard team over the last 26 years had won a single game (prior to Friday). Luckily for Harvard, 14 current Crimson players were also on the team that downed Princeton at Jadwin Gym a year ago.

Read moreHarvard responds with resounding wins at Princeton and Penn

Harvard Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition

Sorry, rest of the Ivy League. Harvard’s still Harvard.

Laurent Rivard, Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey may be gone, but Harvard’s ranked No. 25 in the nation and appears to be locked in cruise control en route to a fourth straight NCAA appearance, even in a loaded Ivy League. But let’s start with the negatives. Where is the perimeter depth now? 2013-14 Ivy Player of the Year Wesley Saunders is back and so is Siyani Chambers, who we’ll get to below. Agunwa Okolie, two-year Mormon church mission hiatus-taker Corbin Miller and rookie Andre Chatfield will all be stepping up to provide that depth. The frontcourt boasts the return of shot-blocking phenom Kenyatta Smith as well as the very well-rounded Steve Moundou-Missi. If the Crimson can find a potent three-point shooting wing who can complement Saunders and Chambers, they’ll be just as good as last year. Even if they don’t, they’ll win the Ivy League anyway.

Read moreHarvard Roster Preview – 2014-15 Edition