If the 2012-2013 Harvard basketball season started with scandal, the 2013-2014 squad started with expectations. The preseason storylines for the Crimson centered around the return, not the departure, of senior Kyle Casey and co-captain Brandyn Curry. After adding the returning All-Ivy senior talents and top-100 recruit freshman Zena Edosomwan, the murmurs were not of the team winning the Ivy League, but of going undefeated.
A year after losing four-fifths of the starting lineup to graduation or departure, the Crimson entered the 2013-2014 season with four-fifths of its starters returning, and the only loss—Christian Webster ’13—was coming back to the bench as an assistant coach. Harvard went four-deep in the frontcourt with juniors Kenyatta Smith, Jonah Travis, Steve Moundou-Missi, and Casey. If first-team All-Ivy starter Siyani Chambers sat, the team brought Curry—selected to the 2011-2012 All-Ivy League Second Team—off the bench. The remaining two projected starters? Last year’s leading scorer junior wing Wesley Saunders and the school’s best-ever three-point shooter, co-captain Laurent Rivard.
For all the talent that would take the floor, there was twice as much hype.
The Associated Press ranked the team 31st in the nation before the season’s inception. It was the unanimous selection to finish atop the league in the conference’s preseason poll—the first since the 2009 Sweet Sixteen Cornell squad to garner such honors. Others were willing to go farther. ESPN writer John Gasaway picked Harvard to make the Final Four.
“The expectations are going to be much higher,” Curry said before gameplay began. “We are going to have people coming after us this year.”
Amaker, however, was quick to disagree. Without a win on the court, Harvard’s head coach was unwilling to anoint his team. The same man who claims to never read a single “Bracketology” report during the season dismissed the hype as speculation.
“It’s assumed that whoever the favorite is [will] waltz through the league,” said Amaker prior to the season. “But it’s never happened since I’ve been a part of it.”