In a move that can only be described as incredible, coach Bob Harrison cancelled basketball practice Friday following Harvard's 122-98 victory over Springfield.
Harrison refused to comment Sunday on why he called off practice. He said only, "We have reasons for what we do." However, reliable sources have indicated that he cancelled practice to reward the team for what he considered a fine effort against the Chiefs. Unfortunately Harvard still did not play good defense against Springfield. The Crimson gave up 98 points, allowing 34 of them to forward Ken Lewis. The Crimson proved that they can put the ball in the hoop, but they still committed 34 turnovers--which indicates that Harrison still has not developed a disciplined team.
Unless Harrison is deluding himself, he must realize that Harvard has a long way to go before it can compete with squads such as Penn, Pittsburgh, and Duke. Even Holy Cross, whom the Crimson faced in two weeks, could give the squad a strong challenge. If anything, the Harvard mentor should have scheduled an additional practice Saturday, rather than cancelling Friday's and giving the players two days of rest.
Harrison should have had his team in the IAB Friday afternoon drilling them on defensive fundamentals. Springfield had only two decent ballplayers and the Crimson should never have allowed them to get so many points. Harrison (or one of his assistants if he is unable) must make the players get the same sense of pride from their defensive play as they do from their point totals. None of the Harvard forwards, including Tony Jenkins, could stop Springfield's Lewis. Unless more work is done in this area, the Crimson will be victimized all season.
Because they were outmanned, Springfield was forced to play a zone against Harvard. If our guards and forwards can get open shots as they did Thursday night, we will beat almost any zone. Springfield had almost no strength under the boards and even when Harvard missed, the team still got three and four shots at the basket. The Crimson did not get a chance to run its man-to-man offense against the Chiefs and if last Saturday's performance against Indiana is any guide, our patterns still need a good deal of work.
Following the game with Springfield, Harrison said that he was not too worried with the high number of turnovers Harvard committed. He said that in any game which had a lot of fastbreaking, a coach had to expect numerous errors. Harrison also cited what he called a trend in college basketball this season toward teams committing more turnovers. Whether either of these two assertions is true is certainly open to speculation, but one thing is certain: If the Crimson continues to make over 30 errors a game as they did against Springfield and Indiana, they will be in for a long season.
Harrison said after both the Indians and Springfield games that he was pleased that the players recognised what their errors were: apparently the Harvard coach does not recognise what his team's mistakes have been.
On Wednesday night, the Crimson will travel to Boston University to face the Terriers in what should prove to be another relatively easy contest. Harrison said last week that B.U. "has some talent but should not really be in our class." Harvard will probably get its next stiff test when they play the University of Massachusetts next Saturday night.