2013-14 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: 20-10, 11-3 in Ivy)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Kyle Casey (Sr)/Kenyatta Smith (Jr)/Michael Hall (Soph)

F: Wesley Saunders (Jr)/Steve Moundou-Missi (Soph)/Zena Edosomwan (Fr)/Jonah Travis (Jr)/Evan Cummins (Soph)/Hunter Myers (Fr)/Tom Hamel (Sr)

G/F: Laurent Rivard (Sr)/Agunwa Okolie (Soph)/Dee Giger (Sr)

G: Brandyn Curry (Sr)/Matt Brown (Jr)

PG: Siyani Chambers (Jr)/Alex Nesbitt (Jr)

Gone: SG-Christian Webster

2013-14 Outlook:
The Harvard Crimson only loses one player from last year’s Ivy League Championship team, plus the program gets Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry back from their 1-year suspensions. In other words, Tommy Amaker’s team is loaded with talent and should be a fixture in the national rankings.

Casey and Curry were forced to sit out all of last season due to their part in an academic scandal that hit the university last fall. Both guys played an integral part on Harvard’s 2011-12 team that ended the school’s 66-year NCAA Tournament drought and add to an already solid returning core.

Curry was an All-Ivy League selection during his sophomore and junior years, so he clearly brings a ton of experience to the point guard position … not that point guard play is a concern for the Crimson. Siyani Chambers ran the show last year for Harvard while Curry was suspended, and earned Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. Now, Amaker has the luxury of a pair of experienced, talented point guards who are capable of initiating the offense or scoring the rock when needed. These two are interchangeable in the backcourt, though it will be interesting to see how they share the ball-handling duties.

Alongside Curry and Chambers on the wing are returning starters Wesley Saunders and Laurent Rivard, so expect Amaker to use a four-guard look quite frequently. Saunders led Harvard in scoring a year ago and might be the most versatile player in the conference since he can handle the ball, rebound well for his size, and guard multiple positions. Rivard is a three-point specialist (199 of his 216 field goal attempts last season came from distance) and will benefit from the drive and kick abilities of Curry, Chambers, or Saunders.

Casey was a 3-year starter prior to his suspension and will serve as the lone starting post player. At 6-7, he is undersized but is an inside/outside threat who makes the Crimson even more dangerous on the offensive end. Amaker does posses solid depth up front and can easily use a bigger lineup with guys like Steve Moundou-Missi, Kenyatta Smith, and Jonah Travis, who were all key role players last season in Casey’s absence. Add in talented freshman Zena Edosomwan to the mix, and Harvard will be just as talented when it needed to use a bigger lineup.

You might not see a whole lot of the Harvard Crimson this, season but you will certainly hear plenty about this team. The Crimson should breeze to a third-straight Ivy League title and with the program’s talented backcourt and depth up front, nobody will want to see Harvard when the brackets are revealed on Selection Sunday.

Player to Watch: Siyani Chambers, PG
Chambers played nearly 38 minutes per game as a freshman, and I think he will benefit greatly from having Curry back in the fold, as it will take some pressure off his shoulders and should allow him more rest to stay fresh during the game. Chambers also eclipsed 40% with his three-point shooting and dished out nearly six assists per game, so he is a dangerous weapon in all aspects of his offensive game.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/24 at Colorado
  • 11/28 vs. Denver (Great Alaska Shootout)
  • 11/29 vs. Pepperdine/Green Bay (Great Alaska Shootout)
  • 11/30 vs. Indiana State/Tulsa/TCU/Alaska-Anchorage (Great Alaska Shootout)
  • 1/1 vs. Boston College
  • 1/4 at Rice
  • 1/8 at Connecticut

  • Predicted Ivy Finish: 1st

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