2011-12 College Basketball Season Preview: Harvard

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Harvard Crimson (Last Year: 23-7, 12-2 in Ivy League)

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Keith Wright (Sr)/Andrew Van Nest (Sr)/Kenyatta Smith (Fr)/Ugo Okam (So)

PF: Kyle Casey (Jr)/Jeff Georgatos (Jr)/Steve Moundou-Missi (Fr)/Tom Habel (So)

G/F: Christian Webster (Jr)/Wesley Saunders (Fr)/Dee Giger (Jr)/Jonah Travis (Fr)/Max Hooper (Fr)

SG: Oliver McNally (Sr)/Laurent Rivard (So)/Matt Brown (So)/Corbin Miller (Fr)

PG: Brandyn Curry (Jr)/Alex Nesbitt (Fr)

Gone: PG-Ernest Rouse

2011-12 Outlook:
(I am going to try to get through this article without making a Good Will Hunting reference, but no promises.) Even though they shared the honors with Princeton, the Harvard Crimson captured their first-ever Ivy League title, only to have their hope of ending up in the NCAA Tournament fall short as they lost a one-game playoff against their educated rivals. With everyone returning from last year’s team, Harvard will be the favorites to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1946.

Tommy Amaker primarily used a six-man rotation last season in which each of the players averaged at least 25 minutes and 9 points per game. That entire core returns, but the Crimson bring in a talented recruiting class that could allow Amaker to go deeper into his bench if needed.

Leading scorer and rebounder Keith Wright is the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year and was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top-50 Watch List. He will be joined in frontcourt by Kyle Casey, an athletic four man who is solid on the boards and can also block shots.

Harvard will have more options off the bench in terms of their inside play with the addition of freshman Kenyatta Smith. The 6-8, 260 pounder knows how to throw his body around in the paint but is also light on his feet. Andrew Van Nest played sparingly last season but offers size (6-10) and decent range on his jump shot.

There is experience and versatility in the backcourt. Brandyn Curry handles the point guard duties and has proven he can distribute the basketball but also score when needed. Oliver McNally plays his role well as a three-point shooter, connecting on 44.2% of his triple tries last season. Christian Webster was the team’s second leading scorer and can stroke it from deep but also is explosive at the rim.

Laurent Rivard was the team’s sixth man as a freshman and is another wing who can light it up from deep. Matt Brown was seldom used a year ago but will likely serve as the team’s fifth guard. Freshmen Wesley Saunders and Corbin Miller might have something to say about that though as they are talented enough to contribute right away.

This isn’t the tallest, most athletic, or physically intimidating team in the country, but they really came together as a unit last season. With all six of their key contributors returning and a couple of freshmen adding even more depth, there is no reason to think Harvard won’t be a sleeper come tournament time and the cream of the crop in the Ivy League . In other words, the Crimson will “f*** up some smart kids” this year. (I couldn’t resist a Good Will Hunting reference. Sorry.)

Player to Watch: Keith Wright, PF/C
By Ivy League standards, Wright is an intimidating big man despite standing just 6’8″. He has a dangerous combination of strength, athleticism, and moves on the block. Wright benefits from having shooters on the floor to space out defenses and allow him to go to work inside.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/24 vs. Utah (Battle 4 Atlantis)
  • 11/25 vs. UConn/UNC-Asheville(Battle 4 Atlantis)
  • 11/26 vs. Florida State/UMass/Central Florida/Charleston (Battle 4 Atlantis)
  • 12/1 at Vermont
  • 12/10 at UConn
  • 12/29 at Boston College
  • 12/31 vs. St. Joseph’s
  • 1/14 at George Washington

    Predicted Ivy League Finish: 1st

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