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.
This week, The Full-Court Press hits the rink to catch up with Eric Kroshus, a junior forward on the men’s ice hockey team. Even though the squad isn’t having its best season, Kroshus is among its leading scorers. One interesting thing to know about Canadian native—other than the way he pronounces certain words—is the type of music he enjoys before matches. Learn more about what interesting ideas Eric would have for a date with an Olympic gold-medalist, a popular choice among Harvard male athletes. Finally, which team’s goalie might have some competition for his spot next year? You’ll have to read on to find out.
Name: Eric Kroshus
Stats: Kroshus is the team's second leading scorer with three goals on the yearto go along with two assists, collected in nine games so far this season.
Now, to the questions!
In Harvard’s 79-73 loss to Connecticut last year, Jeremy Lin ’10 had a career night, scoring 30 points, grabbing nine rebounds and handing out three assists. Lin’s performance against the perennial powerhouse Huskies put him on the radar for NBA scouts, which led him to eventually land a roster spot on the Golden State Warriors. Lin isn’t the only athlete from the class of 2010 to go pro, though.
When the Harvard men’s basketball team squares off with No. 4 UConn on Wednesday, it will, of course, be a huge underdog; Ivy League squads playing against power conference teams often are.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. Just last Saturday, the Yale women’s basketball team upset No. 14 Florida State, 91-85, in New Haven.
Although this win marked the only win by an Ancient Eight basketball team over a top 25 program in 11 tries this season, Ivy schools have been competitive in some of those 10 losses. Most notably, the Cornell men lost at then-No. 13 Minnesota by just five points, 71-66, while the Princeton women dropped a contest at then-No. 22 Vanderbilt by a six-point margin, 74-68.
The Crimson men have other reasons to be optimistic. The next game on the Huskies’ schedule after Wednesday’s contest is a road game at No. 6 Pittsburgh, Connecticut’s biggest game since last month’s Maui Invitational. If Harvard can catch the Huskies looking ahead, it has a shot to replicate last year’s close contest, a game Connecticut won by a slim 79-73 margin.
That may have been exactly what the Lady Bulldogs took advantage of on Saturday. The Seminoles square off with No. 1 Connecticut tomorrow—a game that could have historic ramifications. A win would be the 89th straight for the Lady Huskies, breaking the all-time NCAA record held by John Wooden’s UCLA men’s program.
But of course, Harvard’s recent success against top programs—it beat then-No. 24 Boston College two seasons ago and has already toppled a power-conference school this year in Pac-10 team Colorado—means that the Huskies likely have Harvard very much on their radar.