M. Basketball Ivy League Season Begins Tonight Against Dartmouth
Losers of four of its last five games, the Harvard men's basketball team will be looking to snap its present two game losing streak as it starts Ivy-League play against Dartmouth tonight at Lavietes Pavilion.
In its final tune-up before the start of conference play, the Crimson (3-4,0-0 Ivy League) lost in a heartbreaker to Colgate, 67-63, last Friday. The Crimson's lead, which was as high as nine points in the second half, dwindled away in the last moments of the game.
"We didn't protect the ball or the lead," said junior guard Damian Long. "We just didn't play tough ball."
Senior point guard Tim Hill was quick to note the lack of energy in the team's play.
"The game was obviously a big disappointment, but the level of intensity just wasn't right," Hill said.
The Crimson will rely on another superb performance from the senior point guard tonight for a win. Presently, Hill leads the league in assists (7.6 apg), ranks third in steals (2.1 spg), and is sixth in scoring (16.1 ppg).
Around the perimeter, the Crimson also needs good productivity from senior shooting guard Mike Beam. Beam netted 13 points against Colgate but went only 4-of-11 from the field.
From behind the three-point line, Beam has been red-hot this year, going 19-of-39 (.487) on the season, placing him second in the Ivy League.
Dartmouth (3-3, 0-0,) is coming off a stellar performance, defeating the University of New Hampshire (2-5, 0-1 America East), 92-79, last Sunday. Dartmouth's total of 92 points was the first 90-plus game since the 1994-95 season.
Preseason critics touted the strength of Dartmouth's frontcourt, especially the game of junior forward Shaun Gee, who has led the Big Green in scoring all season, netting 17.8 points per game. First team All-Ivy and the league's leading scorer last season, Gee has continued his high production and is now third in the Ivies in scoring.
Sophomore forward Ian McGinnis led the Big Green to victory last Sunday with 17 points and 15 rebounds. McGinnis has been productive all season long, averaging a double-double on the year (10.0 ppg., 12.5 rpg). McGinnis is currently leading the Ivy League in rebounds per game.
The surprise for Dartmouth, however, has been the scoring of its backcourt, giving the Big Green a balanced attack on offense.
Running the show at the point is Flinder Boyd. The freshman standout, who recently received Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors, is averaging 5.0 assists per game, fourth in the league behind Harvard's Hill. Boyd, a Los Angeles native, turned down offers at such basketball powerhouses as Utah and Oklahoma, to try and help rebuild a Dartmouth program that finished next-to-last in the Ivies last year.
"Dartmouth is a much improved team this year and they have played well of late," Hill said. "We just have to play with a high level of intensity."
Another potent threat for the Big Green at the off-guard position is sophomore Greg Buth. Hindered last season by knee-surgery, Buth has started this year off strong, averaging 15.8 points per game, sitting seventh in the Ivy League.
By looking at the season statistics, it is easy to see that both teams play similar styles of basketball. The Crimson leads the league in scoring, averaging 70.6 points per game, while Dartmouth comes in second with 64.3.
Both teams, however, rank in the bottom tier of the league in opponents scoring per game, with Dartmouth ranked 5th and the Crimson last in the league.
Despite what the statistics might say, conference play adds a new dimension to the game.
"Ivy League games are important to the season, so of course they mean a lot to you," Hill said.
Long also noted the increased pressure associated with Ivy League-play.
"There's no Ivy-League post-season, so everyone counts," Long said. "Our season starts here."
A win tonight will guarantee the Crimson first-place status in the Ivy League, as no other conference games take place until the second week of January.