The Harvard men’s basketball team took down George Washington last Saturday, 67-62, with its top two scorers ailing on the bench. Thankfully for the Crimson, it looks like junior co-captain Keith Wright and sophomore forward Christian Webster will not remain on the sideline for too long.
“We’re hopeful for Saturday,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker of each player’s return. “Right now, they both are going through the process of getting treatment and trying to rehab their injuries.”
After Webster scored eight points in 14 minutes in a homecoming of sorts (his father played for George Washington in the 1980s), the D.C. native took a shot to the hip that left him immobile. The injury, which is being described as a hip pointer, kept him out of the remainder of the contest.
Wright, who is averaging a team-best 14.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, was also banged up in Saturday’s contest. After a blow to the ribcage, the big man experienced trouble breathing and missed the final 15 minutes of the game.
“They’ve been out of practice thus far,” Amaker said. “[But] we’re hopeful that they’ll be able to play.”
The bigger concern for the Crimson might be one of the heroes from Saturday’s win: freshman Laurent Rivard. Though the forward mustered 16 points in the second half, he was battling an ankle injury that has relegated him to a walking boot off the court.
“He’s had an ankle and an Achilles issue all year,” Amaker said. “The only thing that’s going to be able to allow it to heal is to take complete time off.”
Given Rivard’s increasingly important role as a sixth man on the Crimson (the freshman has reached double figures in eight of his last 10 games), the possibility of a break is remote.
“He’s been nursing it all the way through,” Amaker said. “He’s a tough kid. He’s been able to play through pain, and we anticipate he’ll continue to do it.”
While most of Harvard has been enjoying a long winter break, its athletes have been hard at work for a while now.
That includes recruits, such as future Crimson basketball player Kenyatta Smith. Saturday night, the senior center from Flintridge Prep School (La Cañada Flintridge, Calif.) guided his Rebels to a 57-49 victory at the school’s rival, the Polytechnic School, in Prep’s biggest contest of the year thus far.
St. John's Prep has become a recruiting hotbed for Harvard lately.
A state champion in football and lacrosse, Ryan Delisle has decided to bring his winning habits to Soldiers Field next fall. On Tuesday, the senior tight end and defensive end publicly confirmed a verbal commitment to play football for the Crimson next fall.
Making it to the pros represents a dream come true for aspiring athletes across the country. But admittance into the big leagues is often just the beginning of another difficult journey. Here's an update on former Harvard athletes—from Matt Birk '98 to Louis Leblanc—working to make a living as athletes. Some have thrived, while others are working to get over bumps in the road.
Matt Birk '98
For the seventh time in his career, Matt Birk, a center for the Baltimore Ravens, is headed toward the NFL playoffs. A Steelers loss and a Ravens win today would have pushed Baltimore to the second seed, but Pittsburgh soundly defeated the Cleveland Browns 41-9.
Baltimore (12-4-0) boasts a better record than third- and fourth-seeded teams Kansas City (10-6-0) and Indianapolis (10-6-0), but the Steelers, who boast the same record as the Ravens, earned the second seed by posting a better division record.
Most of Harvard’s student body has already left the bitter winter cold of Cambridge and (hopefully) headed someplace warmer.
But for a few Crimson teams, athletes have to stick around for games in the final 10 days of the year. Men’s and women’s basketball and wrestling all have contests before the start of 2011.
For the basketball teams, the contests are hardly the easy games the team might hope for over winter recess. The men will face undefeated No. 4 UConn tomorrow, easily its toughest (and highest-ranked) opponent of the season. The Huskies have won each of their last five games by more than 10 points.
In the waning days of 2010, men’s basketball will face Monmouth on Dec. 29 and MIT on New Year’s Eve day at Lavietes Pavilion.