Well, we made it. The world didn’t end (even though Harvard men’s basketball fans might feel like it did), and the Crimson is back on the court and ice starting tomorrow, when the women’s basketball team hosts intrastate rival UMass to kick of a packed January schedule for Harvard sports. Now that we’re on the other side, let’s take a minute to reflect on the performances of 2012 and what teams should resolve to change going forward in 2013.
While Monday night’s last-second loss to Saint Mary’s was frustrating, the Crimson led its favored opponent the entire game, surprising almost everyone in the audience. After holding the Gaels to a 22.6 field goal percentage in the first half, Harvard could not contain a reinvigorated St. Mary’s offense that shot 65.3 percent from the field in the second. With a relatively shallow bench and a starting five that rack up huge minutes each time out, the Crimson has struggled to stay consistent—especially on defense—for the full 40 minutes. If you’re Crimson coach Tommy Amaker, you have to be thinking defense, defense, defense.
Resolution: Tighten up post defense to avoid letting leads slip away late in the game.
With sophomore star Temi Fagbenle—who sat out her freshman season due to NCAA regulations—stepping up on offense, the team has made putting points on the board look easy. Fagbenle has scored in the double digits in her last four starts, and the team has also been aided by a consistent sophomore Christine Clark and confident senior Victoria Lippert, who led the team with 20 points in its loss to SMU Sunday. But no amount of points will compensate for sloppy ball handling, and indeed the Crimson has been plagued by turnovers that have led to quick points in transition for its opponents. Despite outscoring the Mustangs 38 to 24 in the paint, Harvard lost in part due to 20 costly turnovers that led to 30 points for SMU.
Resolution: Slow down the passing game and avoid unnecessary points off turnovers.
Last season the team topped the nation in power play goals, converting an impressive 27.3 percent of its opportunities. This year, that number has dropped to 7.7 percent, up from 6.1 after the Crimson scored its only goal against Northeastern with the advantage in a 5-1 loss last weekend. With its touted penalty kill absent during the last two games—down to 50 percent against UMass and 25 percent against the Huskies—failing to convert power play opportunities is a recipe for disaster for the Crimson.
Resolution: Take advantage of power play opportunities to put easy points on the board.
With only one loss so far this season and a perfect conference record, the No. 4 women’s hockey team looks hard to beat. Returning to the ice on Jan. 4 for the first time since early December, it remains to be seen whether the Crimson—undefeated in its last seven games—can keep up its current hot streak. But, with Harvard’s deadly combination of senior Laura Bellamy and freshman Emerance Maschmeyer in the net—ranked first and third in goaltending nationally—combined with 16th leading scorer Jillian Dempsey, the second half of the season looks nothing but promising.
Resolution: With a marathon second half schedule—18 games in less than two months—stay healthy and injury free.
This New Years, The Harvard Crimson staff resolves to keep you updated on Harvard athletics throughout J-term as we count down to the spring semester. Follow The Back Page and @THCSports for the most up-to-date news and analysis. Happy New Year!