W. Cagers: The Time is Now
Ivy Season Begins After Weak Non-Conference Showings
Something strange keeps happening to the Harvard women's basketball team: It's piling up the accolades but can't translate them into wins.
The two newest (accolades) to roll in are Ivy League Player of the Week honors for sophomore point guard Elizabeth Proudfit and Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for freshman guard Jessica Gelman.
Proudfit scored a career-high 22 points against Vermont and added 13 and 20 points against Wake Forest and Vanderbilt. In those same three games, Gelman totaled 28 points, 11 rebounds, eight assist and five steals.
In those same three games, Harvard added three `L's to its win-loss totals. Added to Monday night's loss to Northeastern, the Crimson now stands at 2-8 heading into this weekend's play.
Thankfully, none of it means anything. League play hasn't started yet.
But this weekend, with games against Pennsylvania tonight and Princeton tomorrow night at Briggs Cage, it will.
Last year at this time, Harvard wobbled on its feet after a demoralizing three-win non-league season but defeated Pennsylvania and Princeton to open 2-0. From then on, the Crimson caught fire--ultimately finishing second behind perpetual nemesis Brown.
The awards and accolades have been piling up, unlike last year. The highly-regarded Harvard team has suffered enough, the thinking goes. Is this the weekend when the Crimson finally shifts out of neutral?
Time will tell. So will the opponents. One of them is pretty good, one of them is pretty bad.
Friday Night Lightweights
Pennsylvania will come to town first, sporting a lackluster 1-7 record. It's only win so far this season has been a 72-59 takedown of Delaware, and besides that the Quakers have not managed to score more than 66 points in any game or lose by less than eight points.
Harvard's full-court press defense/offense has not been that successful so far, but here's a key: when Harvard has held it opponent to under 66 points, it has won the game. Over 66, the Crimson is 0-8. So, if Pennsylvania's best game netted the Quakers just 72 points, the logic would seem to favor Harvard.
More lies and damned lies: In both of Harvard's wins (against Colgate and Boston University) the opponent scored just 62 points, a pretty good show for the Harvard defense. In the eight losses, the other team has usually scored in the high 70s.
Harvard's offense has been consistent, producing in the high 60s to low 70s in every game but the 83-62 win over Boston University and Monday night's 73-51 loss to Northeastern.
If the stats can predict the future, Harvard's got this one in the bag. If the Crimson lets history be its guide, it's most definitely in the bag. Either way, it's in the bag...hopefully.
Saturday Night's Alright...
The real show of the weekend comes Saturday night when Princeton (6-5 overall, 0-0 Ivy) comes to town. The Tigers have scored the Ivy League's most impressive win to date, a 59-56 upset of nationally-ranked Santa Clara.
Princeton was picked to finish fourth in the Ivy League's preseason media poll, but the Tigers' play recently (winning six of their last seven games) has them thinking bigger thoughts.
The key to the recent winning streak has been the play of 5'7" senior guard Laura Leacy, who returned to Princeton's starting lineup after an injury seven games ago. Since then, Leacy has been shooting 53 percent from the floor (39-for-74), averaging 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per night. For the season, Leacy leads the team with 12.9 points per game, and she has now led the team in scoring five consecutive times.
Sophomore freshman Tricia Klock is another one of the Tiger keystones, shooting 57 percent from the floor (8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game). But she will be tested by Harvard star Tammy Butler, who leads the Ivies in scoring (17.2 points per game) and rebounding (12.4 boards per game) has yet to be slowed down by anybody.
Still, the key to this weekend will be Harvard's defense, ranked last in the Ivies and giving up an average of 82 points per game. With that kind of average, the team won't be going far.
But the catch is, Harvard is supposed to go very far. Something's got to give.