For Harvard basketball this year it hasn’t been a matter of pure freshman talent or veteran senior experience—in fact for the most part, it’s been a lot of both.
For the men it’s been a tale of two guards. Led by co-captain Siyani Chambers and freshman Bryce Aiken, the Crimson have what is arguably one of the best backcourts in the conference. The two have combined to average 24.1 points and 8.8 dimes per game.
As of Wednesday, Aiken has followed in the steps of Chambers as he was voted the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, with Chambers earning the honor after the 2012-2013 season. The duo was also given first-team All-Ivy nods.
On the women’s side, it’s a similar story. For coach Kathy Delaney-Smith’s squad it’s been a combination of co-captain Destiny Nunley and freshman guard Katie Benzan.
Benzan, while coming just short of Rookie of the Year behind Princeton’s Bella Alarie, was given a first-team All-Ivy nod while Nunley earned an Honorable Mention All-Ivy.
For women’s coach Kathy Delaney Smith, the talent is something that isn’t exclusive to her squad, it’s across the league.
“I’ve said all year long the league is the strongest—I’ve been in it 35 years, I know I don’t look that old, but it’s the strongest in my 35 years,” Delaney-Smith said. “This is the strongest top to bottom it’s ever been.”
IVY LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: BRYCE AIKEN
Despite coming off the bench for the better part of the Crimson’s season, Aiken has become all but a bench player for the Crimson—he has instead become a staple of the Harvard offense.
In a class full of freshman talent with teammate Seth Towns, Yale’s Miye Oni, Columbia’s Mike Smith, and Penn’s AJ Brodeur, Aiken’s campaign has been nothing short of spectacular. The freshman leads the Crimson in scoring with 14 points a game.
As the Crimson takes on Yale tomorrow, Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker will likely look to the freshman in hopes of a third win against the Bulldogs this season.
“Bryce is a good player,” Amaker said. “No matter who we’ve played he’s been a focal point for our opponents. I’m sure that’s going to take place again. Yale did do that in the earlier games, Bryce has been a very good ball player for us and we’re going to need him to be really good again.”
It would be hard to pick the best game of the rookie’s season—perhaps it would be a series of back-to-back threes late to give the Crimson its best non-conference win of the season against Houston or maybe it would be the 27 points he dropped against Yale in New Haven to hand the Bulldogs their first home loss in nearly two years.
Either way, Aiken will likely be headache for Ivy League for years to come.
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