ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Power Forward Delivers in Losses

Sophomore’s injury recovery brings much-needed post presence

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Hillary W. Berkowitz

Sophomore Pat Magnarelli’s post play has sparked Harvard’s play in the paint, something the Crimson will need in its Ivy League push.

Sophomore power forward Pat Magnarelli needs no doctor’s note.

Over the last week, he has proved that his injured back—which kept him out of all but nine games last season—is back to full strength. Indeed, it has been strong enough for him to carry Harvard with stellar all-around performances over the past three games.

Magnarelli’s forceful presence in the post has helped the Crimson fill the absence left by the departure of center Brian Cusworth ’06 midway through last year. He uses his excellent athleticism and great court sense to play even larger than his 6’7” frame.

The Duxbury, Mass. native’s last two performances have been particularly impressive, as his output and high minute count were crucial in keeping his squad in the game in two contests it eventually lost.

He produced the biggest game of his young career in last Thursday’s contest against Long Island University, posting a personal-best 22 points on 10-14 shooting from the field and collecting a dozen rebounds, which is also a personal high.

“He was fantastic, just a great job of finishing,” junior guard Andrew Pusar said of Magnarelli’s performance against the Blackbirds. “We wanted to keep feeding him the ball because of his play—we hope that can continue.”

His stellar play continued in Sunday’s home loss to Vermont, where Magnarelli nearly produced another double-double, scoring 14 and hauling in eight rebounds.

“Every time we work [the ball] down low, good things are happening,” Magnarelli said. “Hopefully, it will keepworking out for me.”

His game-high 38 minutes of play allowed him to anchor the center for a 1-3-1 zone that turned the tide of the game in Harvard’s direction early in the second half. His long arms and athleticism allowed him to keep the center of the zone clogged, enabling his teammates to extend the zone and stifle Vermont’s previously unhindered scoring machine, allowing only three points during a seven minute span in which the Crimson scored 24, turning a fifteen point halftime deficit into a four point lead.

Even before his offensive outburst this week, Magnarelli had been a steady presence in Harvard’s lineup. He averaged 8.4 points and six rebounds a game in the team’s first 10 games, and with this week’s performances, those figures have risen to 10 and 6.8, respectively.

“Those two guys, I think they’ve been fairly consistent,” coach Tommy Amaker said of Magnarelli and Pusar. “They haven’t had the big swings, the highs and the lows. We need both of them on the floor.”

With the Crimson on the verge of its Ivy League season, Magnarelli’s contribution will only increase in the coming games, as his combination of athleticism and court smarts fuse with increasing experience and an a greater degree of comfort with his fellow big men junior Evan Harris and senior Brad Unger.

—Staff writer Jonathan B. Steinman can be reached at steinman@fas.harvard.edu.

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