Dead-eye Dan Clemente? Yes, but not in quite the way we were expecting. After being diagnosed on Dec. 9 with a detached retina, the 6'6 junior underwent what was believed at the time to be a season-ending eye surgery. But that all changed on Feb. 1 when Clemente's doctor permitted him to return to the hardwood.
Last week, Clemente did a little surgery of his own. Replete with protective goggles, the forward sliced and diced Cornell for 24 points and six boards in a 67-57 home win last Tuesday at Lavietes Pavilion.
The following night, Clemente started and posted another 24-point performance, a bright spot in a 71-65 losing effort to Columbia. The Crimson's leading scorer is back in a big way.
This astonishing return salvaged a year that could have led to back-to-back injury-spoiled seasons, with Clemente's sophomore campaign all but lost to a devastating ankle injury. The performance was astonishing enough, in fact, to gain Clemente Ivy League Player of the Week acclaim alongside Penn's Matt Langel.
With its most accurate marksman back in the starting lineup, will the Harvard men's basketball team (8-11, 3-3 Ivy) start seeing straight again? They'll have to, as the cagers will be forced to run the Ivy gauntlet, playing at Penn on Friday and at Princeton on Saturday.
The Friday face-off against league-unbeaten Penn and the sniper Langel will likely be the Crimson's most difficult test to date. Harvard will go to Philadelphia looking to thwart Penn's six-game winning streak.
The Crimson had struggled in 11 games without Clemente, arriving at a 4-7 mark right before getting ready for the home stretch. With Clemente, Harvard has gone 4-4.
Harvard, one of the youngest Division I teams in starting two freshman and playing two more off of the bench, will require Clemente's floor savvy and experience. Clemente is no stranger to the late-season push.
Over the course of the past two games, Clemente buried 10-of-17 from long range, moving him into second all-time on Harvard's career list for three-point field goals. With 134, Clemente chases Mike Gilmore '96, who has 167.
With that same precision and experience, the begoggled Dan Clemente should have no trouble at all surpassing that mark.