NOTEBOOK: Crimson Awakens After Halftime

After the first 20 minutes of the Harvard men’s basketball team’s matchup with Dartmouth on Saturday, it looked like a repeat of Tuesday’s upset loss at Fordham was in the works.

At the half, the Crimson led by just one, 23-22, and Harvard’s offense couldn’t find an answer for the Big Green’s zone defense.

The Crimson was shooting just 3-of-10 from beyond the arc, and co-captain Keith Wright, who finished with just eight points against Fordham, was held to two first-half points on two shots. Harvard was also getting crushed on the boards, 17-12, and had surrendered eight offensive rebounds to the Big Green.

Before any of the Crimson’s assistant coaches got a chance to address the team inside the locker room, it was co-captain Oliver McNally who took charge.

“From a vocal standpoint, I thought he was outstanding,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “He was being pretty adamant about what we needed to do and how we were going to do it and who needed to step forward.”

“It wasn’t a good tone,” McNally said.

Whatever adjustments he called for—and however he said it—seemed to have the desired effect, as the Crimson outscored the Big Green, 40-25, in the second half.

Harvard made a point of establishing Wright early, going to the forward on its first three trips up the floor. Wright connected on his first two attempts of the period and finished the half shooting 4-of-6.

“We were able to get up the floor much quicker [in the second half],” Amaker said. “I thought we were able to get deeper post position earlier.”

In addition to getting Wright more involved, the Crimson also started to dominate the glass in the second half. After surrendering eight offensive rebounds in the first period, Harvard allowed none in the second, and outrebounded the Big Green, 16-10, in the frame.

“If we rebound the basketball and take care of it, we’re going to win a lot of games,” McNally said. “I’m pretty disappointed we weren’t able to put a more complete game together, but I’ll take a 16-point win in the Ivy League.”

A FRESH CHALLENGER

The Crimson cannot be too excited about the fact that it will have to face Gabas Maldunas seven more times over the next four years.

The Dartmouth freshman scrapped his way to a 15-point, nine-rebound performance—both team highs—against the Crimson. The 6’8 rookie proved difficult for the Harvard bigs to stop in the post, as he was able to put the ball on the deck and use his long arms to finish layups. He was also active on the glass, finishing with five offensive boards.

“He’s got quick feet for a 6’8 kid,” Amaker said of Maldunas. “He puts it on the floor. He got around our guys. He uses either hand. I think he’s a tremendous player. He’s a tough matchup for post players, and we knew that coming in.”

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