Harvard proved its resilience. Now, it must prove its consistency.
Hosting Princeton (19-3, 9-0 Ivy) tonight and Penn (9-12, 5-4) tomorrow, the third-place men's basketball team (14-8, 7-3) hopes to apply the same strong defensive effort it showed in a sweep of Cornell and Columbia last weekend. However, consecutive losses to Penn and Princeton preceded the sweep.
"We'll have to do a far better job on defense [than we did in our first meetings with Penn and Princeton]," coach Frank Sullivan said. "Those were two of our toughest games this year. We've responded from those losses very well, though; we were determined to bounce back, and the players showed their toughness."
Cornell and Columbia shot less than 40 percent from the field against Harvard last weekend. Over the last two years, Harvard is 21-0 when holding its opponents to under 40 percent from the field. The Crimson has already accomplished that feat 10 times this season.
However, Princeton shot 60 percent from downtown against Harvard on Feb. 8. Forward Jesse Rosenfeld was 6-of-6 from the field, and Princeton was a combined 8-of-21 at the four and five spots.
Princeton forward Gabe Lewullis is one of the top three-point shooters in the league, shooting 42 percent from behind the line. The sophomore also leads the Tigers in scoring.
"[Despite Lewullis], you can't ignore the other starters," Sullivan said. "Princeton is clearly the most talented team in the league."
The Tigers have lost just one player from last season's NCAA entry, which upset UCLA. Besides Lewullis, Princeton boasts center Steve Goodrich, who earned first team all-Ivy honors last season. However, the Crimson did manage to land Goodrich in foul trouble in the first meeting with Princeton.
Penn made 12 three-pointers against Harvard, including 7-of-13 first-half attempts. Freshman Michael Jordan, who scored 18 points on the night, was 4-of-5 from behind the line for the Quakers. Jed Ryan led Penn with 22 points, Paul Romanczuk submitted a double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds), and Garrett Kreitz was 5-for-8 from the field.
"Romanczuk is a solid inside player," said sophomore guard Tim Hill. "Kreitz is a sharpshooter; he shot the ball well against us."
Preparing for the weekend, the Crimson has watched more film than usual; additionally, the team has analyzed the Penn and Princeton offenses more than those of other opponents.
Penn is a full-court team that plays aggressively in the open court, whereas Princeton is more half-court-oriented, making it complex to guard.
"Princeton shoots three-pointers very well," said Kyle Snowden '97. "They have a patient offense and generate easy baskets when teams get lackadaisical. Penn is an up-tempo team that will get the ball in the open court and push as much as they can."
In its victories over Cornell and Columbia last weekend, the Crimson did a good job of containing Big Red forward John McCord and Lions guard C.J. Thompkins. Harvard hopes to continue its strong defensive work by stopping Princeton and Penn's key offensive players.
"Overall, we're all pleased with the past weekend," Hill said. "We want to take that defensive effort and apply it to this weekend as well. Penn and Princeton shot extremely well against us. We'll have to contest their shots a little better."