If they were looking for the yellow brick road, maybe the Scarecrow or the Tin Man could help.
But the Harvard men's basketball team may need to solicit help from Brent Musberger or Dick Vitale to find its elusive path.
The road to the NCAA Tournament party begins tomorrow at Briggs Cage at 2 p.m. (WHRB, 95.3 FM), when the Crimson hosts Dartmouth in the Ivy League opener for both squads.
"The team that wins the Ivies is the one that wins nearly all its home games," Co-Captain Scott Gilly said. "We feel we can beat all the teams in the league at home."
The Crimson (4-7) has been hampered by injuries through the early part of the season, but it will play nearly at full strength against the Big Green (3-5). Co-Captain Fred Schernecker--the team's leader in three-point field goals--returns to action after a knee injury, and junior Ralph James (dislocated shoulder) and sophomore Ron Mitchell (back spasms), the two leading scorers, were healthyenough to combine for 43 points in Harvard'sovertime win against Fairfield Tuesday night.
"We've got some players coming off injuries whoare playing well," said freshman Tyler Rullman,who replaced first James and then Schernecker inthe starting lineup the last three weeks.
In last year's home game versus Dartmouth,Mitchell had the finest performance of his career,erupting for 30 points and 10 rebounds. The BigGreen escaped with a two-point overtime victory tocomplete its third straight season sweep of theCrimson.
That must change this year if Harvard hopes tosee Vitale and Musberger in March.
"You've got to win six of seven at home andfour on the road [to win the Ivy League title]."Coach Peter Roby said. "The pressure's on the hometeam."
Last year, Jim Barton burned Roby and crew for36 points. This season, Dartmouth's main threat isWalter Palmer, a 7-ft. 1-in. center, who leads thesquad with 16.7 points per game, but has beenhampered by a stress fracture to a vertebrate.
"Whenever you have a team with as formidable athreat as Palmer, you can't allow it to keeppushing the ball into him," Roby said. "We'regoing to try to minimize the threat by running."
Harvard has been running all season. It ran inlosses at Duke, Nebraska and Holy Cross. Robyhopes the licks his team took in those games willstart to pay dividends tomorrow afternoon.
"It's going to be one of the better games ofthe season," said freshman Tarik Campbell whosetwin brother, Gary, plays for the Big Green.
Dartmouth has lost four straight decisions,most recently an 18-point defeat to Holy Cross.Before that streak, the Big Green lookedimpressive in grabbing the Lobster Shootout titlewith wins against Maine and Texas A&M.
"We're approaching it as a very importantgame," Gilly said. "It's time to put up or shutup."Green Giant
F--Brendan O'Sullivan (6-ft., 6-in.)
C--Walter Plamer (7-ft., 1-in.)
G--John Mackay (6-ft., 2-in.)
G--James Blackwell (6-ft., 0-in.)
G--Rob Summers (6-ft., 2-in.)