Lin assumes role of on-court leader, enhancing every aspect of the squad’s game

Weston B. Howe

Junior Jeremy Lin emerged as Harvard’s go-to player this season, cracking the top 10 of every major statistical category in the Ivy League. Lin was particularly solid in big games, helping the Crimson to an upset of BC.

The only player in Division I men’s basketball to rank among his league’s top 10 in every statistical category this year did not come from the ACC or the Big East. It was Harvard’s own Jeremy Lin, who has helped launch his name, as well as Crimson basketball, onto the national radar.

After a breakout season last year, the 6’2 guard took his game to another level in his junior campaign, which culminated in a first-team All-Ivy nod. A threat to score every time he touched the ball, Lin was a formidable offensive weapon in every facet of the game—from scoring in transition to dribble-drive penetration, not to mention deadly long-range shooting.

“He’s a great athlete, and he really worked on his shot a lot over the summer, and that got a lot better,” senior guard Drew Housman said.

While Lin’s team-leading 17.8 points and 4.3 assists per game were both among the top three in the Ancient Eight, his league-best 68 steals underline the star’s importance on the defensive end.

Most importantly, Lin stepped up when his team needed him the most. He put together a personal highlight reel against then-No. 17 Boston College, accumulating game-highs of 27 points, eight assists, a career-high six steals, and two blocks.

His team’s first option on every crucial possession, Lin often saved his best work for crunch time. Against Brown on Feb. 9, Lin hit a free throw with no time left on the clock to give Harvard a 64-63 home win, capping his 22-point second half.

In the Crimson’s first win at Penn in nearly two decades on Feb. 1, he poured in seven points during the game’s final 35 seconds, including a long three that broke a 58-58 tie.

And 15 of his game-high 19 points came in the final period in Harvard’s season finale against the Bulldogs, the team’s first win at Yale since the 1998-99 season. Fans at that game saw Lin become only the seventh player in Crimson basketball history to score his 1,000th point during his junior season.

Although his sophomore year performance, which garnered him second-team All-Ivy honors, was nothing to scoff at, a committed work ethic and Harvard’s improved play paid dividends this year for Lin.

“Our team had a much better year this past season, and I think that propelled Jeremy to new heights,” Crimson coach Tommy Amaker wrote in an email.

Named co-captain by his teammates for the upcoming season, Lin will face a few challenges in his transition to a more visible leadership role, which will be particularly important for the highly-regarded incoming class of 2013 recruits.

“He’s definitely going to need to be more vocal,” Housman said. “He’s one of those quiet leader types, but once he’s the captain, he’s going to have to…let guys know what he wants them to do. It’ll be alright, because everyone’s going to listen to him, because he’ll be the best player.”

Regardless of Lin’s new title, the ultimate goal will be the same.

“As a leader and co-captain, Jeremy recognizes that the way for him to have the greatest impact at Harvard is for us to win,” Amaker wrote.

—Staff writer Dennis J. Zheng can be reached at