Men's Basketball Preview: Penn

Published by David Freed on January 31, 2015 at 9:26AM
Holding On

Junior point guard Siyani Chambers, shown here in recent action, surrendered just two turnovers against Princeton and will look to repeat that success on Saturday.

For the fourth time this year, the Harvard men’s basketball team (12-5, 2-1 Ivy) followed a loss with a win. Friday’s 75-72 triumph over Princeton may have been the Crimson’s biggest win since defeating UMass in November, and it left Harvard tied for second in the Ivy League heading into Saturday’s game against Penn (6-10 1-1). Below, The Back Page takes a look at the three main things to keep your eye on as Harvard goes to the Palestra. 

Guns Blazing

One of Friday’s most effective performances came from one of the Crimson’s most unlikely sources. Junior guard Agunwa Okolie put up a career-high eight shot attempts and a season-high 10 points. Okolie thrived as the four in ultra-small lineups, making harder cuts to the basket and finishing at the rim.

Other than getting denied by Stephen Cook at the rim on a dunk attempt (think Roy Hibbert’s 2012 rejection of Carmelo Anthony), Okolie looked as good as he had all season. The junior is not a floor spacer and does not have space to drive in two-big lineups, making him an awkward fit with Amaker’s preferred starting lineup. But the Ajax, Ontario native is a rangy defender who blanketed Princeton’s leading scorer, sophomore Spencer Weisz, into zero points Friday. He will be an X-factor for the Crimson moving forward if he can consistently produce on the offensive end.

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Men's Hockey Preview: Union

Published by Michael D. Ledecky on January 31, 2015 at 5:51PM
McNally Out

Junior defenseman Patrick McNally confirmed Thursday night that he will not play for the remainder of the regular season.

In a final stop before the first round of the Beanpot Monday, the Harvard men’s ice hockey team (12-4-2, 8-3-2 ECAC) will host defending NCAA champion Union (12-10-2, 4-7-1) at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center. With junior defenseman Patrick McNally out indefinitely, the Crimson will turn to other skaters to step up. The Dutchmen will look to build off an 8-3 win over rival Rensselaer last weekend in an inconsistent year.

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Men's Hockey Remains at No. 4/4 in National Polls

Published by Kurt T. Bullard on January 26, 2015 at 9:32PM
Flying Kyle

Junior co-captain Kyle Criscuolo has helped lead the Harvard men's hockey team to country-wide recognition, as the team landed in fourth once again in the two major national polls.

For the third week in a row, the No. 4/4 Harvard men’s hockey team (12-4-2, 8-3-2 ECAC) remained steady in the USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey national rankings. The polls were released after Harvard split its weekend slate with a one-goal loss in Ithaca and a five-goal throbbing of No. 15/- Colgate.

The fact that Harvard has dropped three of its last five contests did not go completely unnoticed by the committee. This week marks the first time since Nov. 24 that Harvard did not receive a first place vote in the USCHO rankings. The team reached its peak of first place votes with 15 on Jan. 5, but has lost all of those votes over the last three week span of play.

Even though the Crimson stayed even in the USCHO poll nominally, the squad did gain some ground. Its point margin over the fifth place team (UMass-Lowell last week, Nebraska-Omaha this week) increased from 58 to 75 points.

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Men's Hockey Preview: Cornell and Colgate

Published by Jake Meagher on January 23, 2015 at 1:29AM
EVEN STEVE

The Crimson will need a strong performance from junior netminder Steve Michalek this weekend in New York.

Last weekend was full of ups and downs for the No. 4/4 Harvard men’s hockey team. Rebounding from its four-goal loss to Yale at Madison Square Garden the week before, the Crimson (11-3-2, 7-2-2 ECAC) lit the lamp six times against Clarkson Friday. But one day later, it was St. Lawrence finding the back of the net with ease, as Harvard dropped its first game all season to a team not named the Bulldogs.

Trailing No. 20/- Quinnipiac by four points for the ECAC lead, the Crimson will need to rediscover its scoring touch this weekend if it wants to keep pace with the Bobcats. But standing in Harvard’s way is a longtime rival and yet another nationally ranked opponent.

FLYING FISH

A barrage of seafood will await Harvard on Friday when it heads west to take on Cornell (7-8-2, 5-5-0). For the last 40 years, the Crimson has been greeted to the tune of frozen fish every time it takes the ice at Lynah Rink, and despite recent attempts by rink officials to ban the ocean-life, Friday should prove no different. The two sides have been doing battle for over a century, with the Big Red leading the all-time series, 73-61-9.

Cornell heads into the newest installment of the rivalry coming off a weekend performance very similar to that of its opponent. The Big Red came up with a dominant 5-1 win over Union on Friday, but struggled to find any offense on Saturday in a 3-0 loss to Rensselaer.

Saturday’s lack of offense was nothing new, however, considering Cornell has recorded just 30 goals through 17 games. But the Big Red has found a way to win despite its deficiencies thanks to the play of sophomore goaltender Mitch Gillam. The netminder leads the country in both save percentage (.948) and goals allowed average (1.47).

In the opposing crease, junior goaltender Steve Michalek will be looking for his first career win over Cornell. After an impressive start to the season, the junior has come back down to earth over his last three games, allowing 10 goals in less than seven periods of play. For the Crimson to emerge from Ithaca with a victory, Michalek will have to go save-for-save with his toughest adversary yet.

Facing Gillam, junior forward Jimmy Vesey will look to extend his streak of consecutive games with a point to 17. After seeming to have that run come to an end on Saturday, Vesey was the beneficiary of a scoring change this week, earning credit for Harvard’s lone goal against St. Lawrence. The junior ranks second in the country in points per game, driving the Crimson with 14 points and 11 assists.

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Men's Basketball Preview: Dartmouth

Published by David Freed on January 22, 2015 at 1:41AM
Filling In

Filling in for the injured Kenyatta Smith, sophomore forward Zena Edosomwan had 13 points and eight rebounds on Tuesday.

The Harvard men’s basketball team (11-4, 1-0 Ivy) closed nonconference play with a 66-57 victory over Bryant on Tuesday night. After playing six of its previous seven games on the road, the Crimson will return home to Lavietes Pavilion to take on Dartmouth (7-8, 0-1 Ivy) Saturday afternoon. Below, The Back Page takes a look at the three main things to keep your eye on as Harvard looks to maintain its perfect home record.

Is Zena Ready?

How things turn. After barely leaving the bench in an overtime loss to Boston College, sophomore Zena Edosomwan got the first meaningful start of his career against the Bulldogs. With 13 points and eight rebounds in just 24 minutes, the Los Angeles native delivered. After a rocky start, Edosomwan had four points and four rebounds in the Crimson’s 8-0 run that clinched the victory.

Although he cannot match senior center Kenyatta Smith’s contributions on the defensive end—the sophomore is a better rebounder but a vastly inferior shot blocker—Edosomwan stands a good chance at matching the senior’s contributions due to his offensive prowess. While he is a black hole on this end of the floor (29.0 percent usage rate, 1.7 percent assist rate), he does a good job getting to the line and rarely turns the ball over. His post game has improved dramatically (43.9 percent effective field goal percentage in 2013-2014), and he is by far the team’s best offensive rebounding threat.

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