It's playing teams like New Hampshire on Monday night that not
only pads the Crimson's record (8-5, 2-0 Ivy), but also its statistics.
The 91-58 victory was so absurdly easy that "12th man" Kam Walton, a
freshman forward, played 11 minutes and 6'3 guard Bryan Parker picked up
six offensive rebounds in 16 minutes on the floor. Harvard captain Dan Clemente said the 33-point blowout of the Wildcats (3-10, 2-2 America East) surprised him only "a little bit."
Even though little can be learned from such a win, there were still a few notebook-worthy items:
The man he surpassed? James Brown '73, who was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks but never really had a pro career. Brown is now more famous as the host of FOX's NFL pre-game show that stars Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Cris Collinsworth.
Barring any sudden change, Clemente, with his current 19.1 ppg
scoring average (which usually goes up during the Ivy season) ought to be
able to end his Harvard basketball career as high as fourth on the
all-time list. In typical Clemente fashion, he had no idea of any
individual records or rankings he set.
"I'm not really big on the numbers," Clemente said after learning
of his move up on the scoring list.
Easy Does It
Last season, Harvard had a 5-8 non-league record, including going 0-4
against America East teams. But so far this year, the Crimson has gone 6-5
against non-Ivy competition. Harvard is 4-0 so far versus the America
East, with only bottom-dwelling Hartford remaining on January 29th.
Not all of the America East match-ups are cupcakes--the Crimson
beat a tough BU squad in December--but they're not much competition for a
better Harvard team this season. For one thing, save the game against
Northeastern, the Crimson plays the America East at home, where it is much
In fact, Harvard's home-court advantage has been astounding so far.
The Crimson is 5-1 at home, and has won five in a row at Lavietes since losing a close 60-55 contest versus Holy Cross in the season opener. In those
five wins, the average margin of victory is nearly 18 points. Considering
that Harvard's next three games are at home, things look bright for the Crimson in the coming weeks.
This scheduling acumen is not new for Sullivan, whose only mistake
this year (as he admits) may have been scheduling an away game at Navy so
early after winter break last week, which resulted in a 33-point loss.
Harvard does not do what Ivy League foe Penn does, which is to sacrifice its record (1-8) for chances to play nationally-ranked opponents like
North Carolina State, Maryland and Temple.
Instead, a quick look at the famous Jeff Sagarin USA Today Power rankings shows what type of teams the Crimson schedules. Harvard, according to Sagarin's latest rankings, stands at No. 199 out of 325 Division I programs. In contrast, New Hampshire is ranked 298th--thereby making Monday's game the equivalent of Duke versus South Alabama.
Sagarin also rates each teams "strength of schedule", which reveals how hard its schedule compared to the rest of the country. Penn has the 14th toughest schedule out of 325. Harvard ranks 321 out of 325: basically, it has the fifth easiest schedule in the country.
None of this takes away necessarily from the Crimson's accomplishments this year, but when it comes down to crunch time against some of the tougher Ivy opponents, they will have faced much better competition than the Crimson.
Some More Numbers
All eleven Crimson players had at least ten minutes playing time each...
Harvard continued to be the best-shooting team in the Ivies, going 55
percent from the field and 54.5 percent from behind the arc... The Crimson
also maintained the conference lead in defensive rebounds, adding 29,
and assists, with 19 more on Monday night... UNH set a Lavietes Pavilion
record for most assistant coaches present, with five.