Harvard freshman Laurent Rivard received a rude welcome to college basketball. In his Crimson debut this November, the highly touted guard struggled mightily to find his rhythm, shooting 0-of-11 from the field and committing two turnovers.
“I was a little nervous,” said Rivard, who finished with two points off a pair of free throws.
After the disappointing contest came to a close, Rivard received a message on his phone from an unexpected supporter—former Harvard standout and current member of the Golden State Warriors Jeremy Lin ’10.
“Jeremy told me not to worry about it—that he had a game like that too,” Rivard said. “I thought that was really nice of him to do that. It helped my confidence.”
If the Crimson’s past two contests are any indication, Rivard has certainly taken Lin’s advice to heart. In Harvard’s two matchups last week, Rivard looked like the player that some media outlets projected to take home Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors. In the two contests, Rivard led all Crimson players with a combined 36 points, netting a total of 10 three-pointers on just 17 attempts.
For his success, Rivard was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week, making him the first Crimson player to take home the award this season.
After his early struggles, Rivard has settled in nicely to his role as a spot-up shooter in Harvard’s inside-out offense, making opposing defenses pay when they double-team the Crimson’ big men.
“Teams are respecting [junior forward Keith Wright] a lot this year and doubling down,” sophomore forward Kyle Casey said. “With good shooters out on the perimeter, it makes us multi-dimensional.”
While in week two sophomore Christian Webster got hot from deep, this past week it was Rivard’s turn to shine.
In last Wednesday’s 80-57 win over Fordham, Rivard led all scorers with a career-high 21 points, shooting five-of-eight from beyond the arc. After scoring just four points in the first half, Rivard began to make it rain, sinking all five of his treys in the second half.
During one seven-minute stretch, Rivard made four consecutive three-pointers, helping Harvard’s lead grow to 27 with 5:31 to play.
Rivard’s teammates were not surprised by his offensive outburst.
“He’s a great shooter, so he’s doing what we expect him to do,” Casey said.
Rivard’s hot hand traveled with the team to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the Crimson’s matchup with Michigan last Saturday. While Harvard finished on the losing end of the 65-62 decision, Rivard managed to anchor the Crimson with a number of crucial three-pointers.
After the Wolverines cut Harvard’s lead to two with less than four minutes to play in the first half, Rivard stuck a three from the left corner to put the Crimson up, 25-20. Two minutes later, Rivard gave Harvard its largest lead of the first half, sinking another trey off a pass from junior co-captain Oliver McNally to take the nine-point advantage.