Good news comes in pairs for the Harvard football team.
A day after learning that ESPN’s College GameDay would set up shop in Cambridge for the annual Harvard-Yale game, the Crimson was promoted to No. 14 in the FCS Coaches Poll. The ranking marks the team’s highest since 2011, when Harvard claimed an outright Ivy League title.
At 9-0, the Crimson is one of two undefeated teams in the FCS. The other, Coastal Carolina, inhabits first place in the Coaches Poll after a 52-21 shellacking of Monmouth last Saturday.
An unblemished record is not the only attribute that distinguishes this season’s Harvard squad. Of the 121 teams in FCS football, Harvard boasts the stingiest scoring defense, allowing a measly 11.0 points per game.
Just before the Harvard men’s basketball team started off its season, it already began to plan for the next one. On Tuesday, Vermont Academy three-star guard Corey Johnson became the fourth player to join the Crimson’s class of 2015.
Johnson, who boasts size (6’6”) and a nice shooting touch, is part of Harvard coach Tommy Amaker’s effort in recent classes to replace the shooting that left Cambridge last spring—when able shooters Brandyn Curry ’13-14, Kyle Casey ’13-14, and Laurent Rivard ’14 graduated.
The signing cements Harvard’s growing ability to recruit north of the border. Johnson, who is from Ontario, would be the fourth Canadian on the Harvard roster—joining freshman Chris Egi (Markham, Ontario) and juniors Agunwa Okolie (Ajax, Ontario) and Patrick Steeves (Montreal, Quebec).
Johnson will join Tommy McCarthy, Weisner Perez, and Blasa Dragovic in the four-person class, which could expand to five later this fall. McCarthy and Johnson, along with current sophomore Corbin Miller and freshman Andre Chatfield, will be the core of the future in the backcourt for Amaker’s squad.
After the Harvard men’s basketball team (1-0) opened its season with a 21-point win over Cambridge neighbor MIT, it faces a stiffer challenge Sunday against Holy Cross in the Coaches v. Cancer tripleheader. Below, The Back Page takes a quick look at the three main things to keep your eye on heading into Sunday’s tilt.
In his first Bracketology prediction of the year, ESPN expert Joe Lunardi has placed the Crimson as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This would be the highest seed that Harvard has ever had in the Big Dance by a factor of a half after the Crimson entered the Big Dance last year as a then-record 12th seed.
Harvard is the unanimous favorite to win the Ivy League. Junior co-captain Siyani Chambers and reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Wesley Saunders are no longer stars—they are superstars. The dynamic backcourt is one of the most dangerous in the nation, and the return of senior center Kenyatta Smith will bring size to an already-loaded frontcourt. Ranked No. 25 in the AP preseason poll, the Crimson will surprise nobody this year as it looks poised to make a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Player To Watch: Siyani Chambers, junior guard
Chambers is the team’s steadiest ballhandler on the floor and will take on a larger scoring role this year.
After losing Sean McGonagill, the team’s starting point guard and leading scorer at 17.4 points per game last year, Brown will rely on its stout defense in 2014-2015. Reigning conference defensive player of the year Cedric Kuakumensah anchors a tough, gritty Brown squad that will have a hard time creating offense without McGonagill running the point.
Player To Watch: Leland King, sophomore forward
For Brown to move into the league’s top half, King must build upon a noteworthy first season.