Not Vintage, But Much Needed Win For Harvard Over Princeton

We all know that you don’t get any points from expectations because we’ve heard that from favorites forever, we rarely hear about the flip side of that theorem. You can’t lose any points for your perceived status either.

So while Harvard’s 75-72 win at Jadwin Gym over Princeton Friday night won’t silence many of the detractors who have seen the Crimson appear much more vulnerable than at any point in the last three seasons, and it certainly won’t get them back to a national ranking any time soon, it is indeed a victory and pushes the Crimson to 2-1 in the Ivy League, a game behind Yale with 11 still to go in the 14 game Ivy tournament (and two head-to-head meetings with the Bulldogs still left).

Continue reading “Not Vintage, But Much Needed Win For Harvard Over Princeton”

Ivy League Weekly Roundup: Jan. 26

What Happened Last Week: Dartmouth upset Harvard with a furious second-half comeback. Yale edged Brown on Javier Duren’s late jumper. And Cornell topped Columbia behind suffocating defense, leaving Yale alone atop the league at 2-0. Continue reading “Ivy League Weekly Roundup: Jan. 26”

Three Thoughts: Harvard 70, Boston University 56

Though Boston University entered Lavietes Pavilion with a disappointing 2-5 record, the Terriers played Harvard even for nearly 30 minutes on Monday. Behind 13 points from Blaise Mbargorba and a balanced scoring effort, BU gave the hosts a scare, but the Crimson finally pulled away for a 70-56 victory on just 57 possessions, improving to 7-1. Three thoughts from the game (written during commercials of Brown’s upset over Providence):

1. The Terriers took Harvard out of its offense (for a while). Harvard entered Monday’s game taking nearly half its shots at the rim — making 61% of those attempts — while BU lacks a true shot-blocker and had allowed opponents to shoot 68% at the basket. So it was no surprise that the visitors packed in their defense, playing a tight zone and daring the Crimson to win the game from outside. Multiple Terriers collapsed on Saunders on every touch inside the arc, denying driving lanes and making entry passes to Harvard’s post players difficult.

“They want to throw it in [the post] a ton,” BU coach Joe Jones said. “Their depth is outrageous up front, so they’re able to use so many guys and wear you down. We just wanted to take that part of their game away as much as we could, and force them to do some things they didn’t want to do.”

In the first half, BU’s tactics worked well: After high-low action led to a few easy points inside, the Crimson’s offense turned into a three-point shooting contest, as 15 of their 25 first-half attempts were from distance. Corbin Miller made three NBA-range treys, but he finished the game just 3-for-13 beyond the arc, and Harvard as a whole shot 31% from three. The Crimson got back to their roots in the second half, however, working their way inside and making 16 of 17 free throws in the period. “Defensively, we got some stops, which allowed us to get out and sometimes beat the zone down,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said.

2. Boston U. matched up well with Harvard in other ways. The Terriers’ offense usually features four perimeter scorers, which poses problems for the Crimson’s standard two-big lineup; after Nathan Dieudonne and Eric Fanning took advantage of mismatches to score in the first half, the hosts switched to a four-guard alignment for the majority of the game. Harvard struggled with those lineups against Holy Cross earlier this season, but they were +14 when playing small on Monday, the entire margin of victory. “They’re a dangerous three-point shooting team, so we thought it’d be beneficial for us to chase them a little bit better with a smaller lineup,” Amaker said.

3. Harvard was simply better down the stretch. With less than 11 minutes remaining and the game tied, BU’s defense stymied the Crimson for 34 seconds, leaving the ball in Saunders’ hands beyond the arc as the shot clock ticked down. John Papale’s hand was at his eyeballs, but Saunders had no choice but to launch a high-arcing prayer — which dropped cleanly through the net. The Terriers threw away a baseline inbounds pass shortly after, and they went without a field goal for seven minutes as Harvard pulled away; Siyani Chambers eventually shut the door with a speedy and-one drive and a step-back jumper.

“Our issues are that we don’t execute at a high enough level, and we don’t always play with enough toughness to win games like this. We have to change that,” Jones said. “We’ve got a long way to go before we become the team we’re capable of becoming.”

Behind Aggressive Defense, Holy Cross Shocks No. 25 Harvard

Entering their season opener against No. 25 Harvard, the Holy Cross Crusaders knew they couldn’t play cautiously. In the final game of the Coaches vs. Cancer tripleheader at TD Garden, the Crusaders came out with aggressive full-court pressure and kept it up throughout the evening. Forty minutes later, they were rewarded with 24 forced turnovers and a 58-57 upset — their first victory over a nationally ranked team since 1977. Continue reading “Behind Aggressive Defense, Holy Cross Shocks No. 25 Harvard”

Star guards carry Harvard in season-opening win

Ten minutes into the 2014-15 season, nationally ranked Harvard was losing at home to Division-III MIT.

The Crimson’s struggles didn’t last much longer, of course. After falling behind 22-21 midway through the first half due to sloppy defense and hot Engineers shooting, the hosts allowed just five points for the rest of the period, ultimately winning the cross-Cambridge meeting 73-52. But for a Harvard team whose expectations are higher than ever, Friday night’s opener offered a reminder that every game is its own challenge. Continue reading “Star guards carry Harvard in season-opening win”

Big Apple Buckets Ivy League Individual Awards

It’s been a busy preseason for the Ivy League. The defending champion made Ivy history with a national ranking, while injuries and roster movements have shaken up the rest of the conference. With the roster shuffling (hopefully) done for now, it’s time to unveil our Big Apple Buckets preseason individual honors.

Continue reading “Big Apple Buckets Ivy League Individual Awards”