Coming off a 19-point loss at St. Joseph’s on Nov. 20, the Harvard men’s basketball team will look to bounce back on Tuesday night at Lavietes Pavilion against Vermont.
When the Crimson visited the Catamounts (3-1, 1-0 America East) a season ago, Harvard entered with an undefeated record. The Crimson topped Vermont, 55-48, and went on to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1946.
But this year, the situation is different. The Crimson (2-2) comes into the game with a .500 record and a much less experienced lineup. Harvard, which starts no seniors and a rookie point guard, will face a Vermont squad that starts four juniors.
The Catamounts are led by junior Brian Voelkel, a forward who leads the team in assists and rebounding. Although undersized, the 6’6” forward is a tenacious rebounder.
The America East’s leading rebounder a season ago, Voelkel has continued to pace the Catamounts with 8.3 of the team’s 37 boards per game.
Vermont, however, features a very balanced offense with no player averaging more than 10 points per game. Their leading scorer is junior guard Candon Rusin who averages 9.8 points per game.
“[Vermont] has always had a team that’s tough and physical,” Amaker said. “Voelkel is difficult matchup for us…. They run an offense with a lot of players that would post up. They will invert a lot, having the guards post up, and the forwards on the outside. We have to play good post defense.”
The Crimson averages only 35.6 rebounds per game, 164th in Division I. In fact, its leading rebounder is sophomore Wesley Saunders, a perimeter player.
In their last game, the Catamounts defeated Yale, 65-52, dominating on the glass. Their only loss on the season is to perennial Big East power UConn. The defending America East champs are riding a two-game winning streak into Cambridge.
Harvard on the other hand, dealing with the loss of captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, has experienced growing pains while integrating new players into their system.
One such player is freshman Siyani Chambers, who has averaged 9.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in four starts.
“We’ve been really, really impressed with the progress of…Chambers,” said junior co-captain Laurent Rivard. “He had really good games against UMass and Manhattan.”
Sophomore Wesley Saunders has led the Crimson in scoring averaging 14.3 points per game. Saunders put up 18 in the loss to St. Joseph’s.
Rivard, the lone returning starter from last year’s NCAA tournament team, has averaged 11.8 points per game, mainly stemming from his lights out shooting. Rivard has a 46.2 three-point field goal percentage.
But last Tuesday, Rivard and the Crimson struggled from beyond the arc. Harvard did not connect on a three-pointer in the first half and fell into a deep hole early and could not find its way out of it en route to the loss.