If Harvard women's basketball coach Kathy Delaney Smith likes anything more than about Barb Keffer than her play as starting point guard this year its that she will be back next year.
and the year after that. too
That's because Kefler is a freshman. And that is very good news for the Crimson.
Keffer has been outstanding this year. She leads the Crimson in minutes played (almost 30 a game) and assists (5-4 a game), and is third in scoring (7-0 points per game) and in the only team member with more assists than turnovers.
Indeed, she should make her presence felt immediately in the Harvard record book. With 86 assists on the year, she needs only eight in the team's final 10 games to set a new team record.
But even that is just the beginning. Delaney Smith says that, "potentially, she is the best point guard the Ivy league has ever had, although she is not that yet."
Already Keffer is second in assists in the Ivy League, averaging 7.0 in league games.
Considering her performance in high school, Keffer's play for her new team isn't really a surprise.
Keffer made her high school's varsity team as a sophomore but didn't start in her first two years: instead she came off the bench in a sixth or seventh man role.
She finally grabbed a starting position as a senior and made the most of it. She averaged 13.5 points and seven assists per game while leading Cardinal O'Hara High School to the Philadelphia Catholic League championship.
Keffer's high school coach, Maryann Nespoli, calls her, "One of the smartest ballplayers I've ever had both on and off the court. If it was ever necessary to get two points in a hurry, you could always depend on Barbara."
In the wake of her team's triumphs personal accolades poured in her Keffer. She was named the most valuable player of her team and league, made the Philadelphia all area team and was an honorable mention All-American in U.S.A. Today.
Letters from interested colleges and scholarships offers rushed in on the heels of those awards.
Keffer received letters from dozens of schools and "serious interest" from about eight, including Harvard, Penn, Bucknell, and New York University.
NYU and others offered full scholarships that in the end her decision came down to Harvard or Penn.
She liked Penn, but, "I wanted get away from home--more independence and all that," Keffer says," Penn was too close."
So Keffer, improved also by Harvard's campus, the girls on the team, and the hoop program in general , decided to don crimson for the next four years.
Nespoli, for one was happy. "I had said to her that if she got the offer Harvard-that's where she should go."
Delacy Smith was both surprised and placed by her decision. "She was always in top candidate but we thought that Press had her sewed up," Delancy Smith said. "We were just going through the motions [of recruiting] because she was so good."
So Keffer came to Cambridge as part of a strong freshman crip recruited in an attempt to turn around the Crimson, a 3-22 finisher in 1983-84.
She was not guaranteed a starting position, especially since last year's starting point guard, Anne Kelly, was returning. But when the time came for her Delancy Smith to make her choice, she decided to go with the freshman.
Keffer opened her collegiatic career with six points and seven assists against. Assumption and followed that performance with 10 points and five assists against Colgate.
Since those first two games, there's been no question who the cagers' number one point guard is.
Both Keffer and Dclancy Smith praise Kelly for her role in helping Keffer adjust to her new surroundings. "Anne has been a really great help to me," Keffer says. "She hasn't been mad or jealous or anything."
Keffer's adjustment to college competition has gone smoothly. In addition to the impressive statistics she registered, Keffer gas given the Cantabs something a freshman rarely provides: leadership.
"As a freshman, she's becoming a floor leader, and that's not easy." Dclancy Smith says.
Opposing coaches have noted her impact as well. Penn's Lois Ashley, whose team Keffer burned for 12 assists, comments. "I could see the difference in smoothness when she was on the floor. She's obviously doing a tremendous job as a floor general."
Despite her record-breaking play Keffer downplays her personal accomplishments. "I'd rather me not get the assist record and have us win than the other way around."
In fact, her biggest provoke as a player may be the tendency to pass to much Dclancy Smith "thanks I should try to shows more so that the defence will play me fairly," she reports.
This has been a rebuilding year for the Crimson and with a 7.9 record thus far, the unit has won almost as many game as the last two teams put together.
And with Keffer at the team's helm, must year should be even brighter for the cadgers.
"This year we could do a lot better, but we known in the next years we'll do lot better," Keffer forecasts.
Nespoli agrees "She should really in the next three years help turn the program around," she says "She'll be a big help in making Harvard into a contender in the next few years."
As far changes next year. Dclancy Smith hopes only that Keffer, a silent leader, becomes a vocal player. "I would like her to he about 400 times moral verbal, and I am not exaggerating," Dclancy Smith says.
Verbal or not, Keffer will be around for those and a hall more years. While the Crimson is not likely to challenge seriously for the Ivy crown this year, the next ten years may bring such a contender.
And you can bet that when it come, an experienced Barb Keffer will be the helm of that contender.