Tremendous, dedicated, and masterful are all adjectives that can be attributed to Crimson junior guard Jeremy Lin. Anyone who has followed Harvard’s men’s basketball this season—from Crimson reporters to Boston Globe senior writer Bob Ryan—can tell you this.
He’s the best player on the court for the Crimson. His start to the season is off the charts.
But the question remains whether it’s the best ever.
In its storied history, Harvard has had its fair share of great basketball players. But after Lin’s unprecedented start, his name must enter that conversation.
The numbers don’t lie: he’s averaging an incredible 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.4 steals a game, is shooting 54 percent from three, and quite frankly, has been the reason the Crimson are 4-3.
The last force that Harvard had on its team was Matt Stehle, who was nominated to the first team All-Ivy for the 04-05 and 05-06 seasons. As a sophomore, Stehle was rewarded with the League Honorable mention.
Last year in his sophomore season, Lin was named second-team all Ivy. If Stehle’s performance is precedent, the Crimson can expect big things from Lin down the road.
“Jeremy was a terrific player last year,” Coach Tommy Amaker said. “Sometimes I think because we’re having a bit more success at this point, winning a few more games, winning on the road early, this has helped highlight how good he is. We all know that as the team does well, there are a lot of ways in which individuals can gather accolades and notoriety.”
While Lin gains rank throughout the league, a more tangible mark of a truly special player is the honor of being nominated Ivy-League Player of the Year. Only one Harvard player has ever earned this honor—Joe Carrabino ’85 who won it in his 1983-1984 junior season. After leading the Crimson to the highest conference finish in school history, the six-foot seven senior was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1985. Amaker believes that his six foot three guard has this same potential.
“Jeremy is a player that, in my opinion, and I’ve been fortunate to be around some really good players and got to coach some of those kids, he is a high-level basketball player, he can play beyond college.” Amaker said. “He can play for a lot of the teams that we watch all the time on TV, ESPN, whatever level you want to consider that, with those kinds of players.”
If his idol is any indication, these heights may be possible for Lin.
“My favorite player of all time is definitely Michael Jordan,” Lin said. “I have pretty much all his games and every DVD on him. I have a little collection at home.”
Of course, when compared to the legendary Jordan, almost everyone pales in comparison. However, to Lin, another player does equate.
“I would say my role model was my older brother because he challenged me a lot and made me get better at basketball,” Lin said. “I was always very competitive with him and he pushed me to become better.”
Lin is now doing for the Crimson what his brother did for him.
“He has grown,” Amaker said. “He knows now it’s not just good enough for him to be a good player. The thing he has done as well as anybody else up to this point is he makes others better. That’s really the mark of a truly special player.”
So far this season, Lin has filled up the stat sheet, and is leading not only the team but also the league in his percentage from the three-point line. In only seven games, Lin also leads the team in assists and defensive rebounds.
“I think it’s obvious that Jeremy Lin has been the best player in the Ivy League thus far,” Amaker declared. “So having the best player in our conference on your team, who’s been able to carry us in stretches, has been a big plus for this team.”
Harvard is hoping to capitalize on Lin’s support to continue improving to finally reach its ultimate goal, the Ivy title.
“[Winning] has been our goal for a while, to be the first team to win the Ivy League title,” Lin said.
To reach this end, Harvard’s philosophy must be a simple one: in Lin we trust.