M. Hoops' Goal: Recoup
They hope that Princeton will bring out the Tiger in them.
As the most difficult road trip of the season develops, the Harvard men's basketball squad (11-11, 4-6 Ivy) has its sights set highly. Princeton (21-1, 9-0 Ivy) and Penn (14-10, 7-2 Ivy) lurk in waiting, ready to face a Crimson team that has stumbled to the middle of the pack.
Without a doubt, Harvard will have to play its best game to date to stop the Princeton steamroller. The Tigers are ranked ninth in the Associated Press Top 25.
"The key to the games will be our energy," said junior point guard Tim Hill. "We're going to have to play our best game on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court."
It is Hill's energy, however, that the team will depend upon. As the Ivy leader in assists and as the team's floor general, Hill will certainly anticipate another shot at a Tiger team that whipped Harvard, 76-48, in the teams' first matchup.
"Princeton and Penn are especially tough to face on the road," Hill said. "We're going to have to play a great game to win."
The three-pointer will no doubt play a huge role in the out-come of this weekend's show-downs. Harvard, Princeton and Penn have the top eight individual three-point percentage shooters in the league and as teams hold the top three spots.
As important as shooting has been, however, the common thread among Crimson wins has been solid defense and rebounding.
"Our biggest focus has to be on defense," said freshman swingman Dan Clemente. "Our rebounding will be a big factor, too. Obviously, we're going to have to play very well to beat these teams."
Between Penn, Harvard and Princeton, the top three scoring teams in the Ivies will be in action this weekend. These squads also post the three lowest turnovers per game average in the league. Because the differential between points scored is so low between these three teams, the team that plays the best defense has a good shot at coming away with a win.
Clemente's portentous words about rebounding, though, may hold the key to Crimson success this weekend.
As it stands, Penn and Princeton are sixth and eighth in the league in rebounding, respectively. The Crimson are tied for second in that same category.
The statistics might be deceiving, due to Princeton sending four men back on defense after a shot and sacrificing offensive rebound opportunities. However, the gap is large enough for junior center Paul Fisher--currently the league's second-best rebounder--to exploit.
After all, the Quakers, who fell to Princeton 71-52 on Tuesday night, did lack Harvard's strength in the pivot, and Penn seemed quite thrown by the stifling Princeton defense.
The Crimson has lost its last two games against Penn and Princeton by a combined 43 points. At the very least, Harvard will try and make sure not to lose by such an embarrassing margin. At best, Harvard could avenge its home losses to the Tigers and Quakers.
The Tigers have experienced stars in Steve Goodrich and Gabe Lewullis, just as Penn does in guard Michael Jordan (no relation to His Airness) and Paul Romanczuk. However, with the resurgent trio of Hill, Clemente and Fisher, Harvard can rebound--in a big way. BASKETBALL IVY STANDINGS
Team W L PCT W L PCT Princeton 9 0 1.000 21 1 . 955 Penn 7 2 .778 14 10 .583 Yale 5 5 .500 10 12 .455 Cornell 5 5 .500 8 14 .364 Harvard 4 6 .400 11 11 .500 Columbia 4 6 .400 9 13 .40 9 Dartmouth 3 7 .300 6 16 .2 73 Brown 2 8 .200 5 17 .227