Athlete of the Week Runners-Up: Week of 2/2

Published by Michael P. Dybala on February 10, 2015 at 11:32PM
Okwelogu

Sophomore Nikki Okwelogu set an Ivy League women's shot put record this past weekend.

Over the past week, senior wing Wesley Saunders helped the Harvard men’s basketball team earn a share of first place in the Ivy League standings, following two conference victories on the road against Brown and Yale. Saunders netted a career-high 33 points in the overtime triumph in Providence and added another 16 versus the Bulldogs, securing his spot as Athlete of the Week.

While the senior dominated on the court, several other Crimson athletes contributed particularly noteworthy performances this week:

Nikki Okwelogu, Women’s Track and Field

At the team’s annual Crimson Elite Meet this past weekend, Harvard sophomore Nikki Okwelogu was the best shot putter in the building. Period. Not only did Okwelogu shatter the Ivy League women’s shot put record with a distance of 16.39 meters on her longest throw, but she also out-tossed any of the male competitors at this weekend’s meet. The Fresno, Calif. native just edged out the men’s champion, senior Ethan Knight of Boston University, whose best throw of the day measured 16.37 meters.

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Beanpot Postponed; Malone, Kerfoot Skating Non-Contact

Published by Michael D. Ledecky on February 02, 2015 at 8:49PM
Sophomore forward Sean Malone has been out of the lineup since December 30.

With the delay of the Beanpot due to winter weather, Harvard can hope the extra time will let injured players like sophomore Sean Malone rest in preparation for this week's competition.

Hockey East officials announced on Sunday that the first round games of the 63rd Annual Beanpot will be played on Tuesday due to the winter storm forecasted for the Boston area Sunday night into Monday.

The No. 4/4 Harvard men’s hockey team will open the tournament at 5 p.m. at TD Garden against No. 2/2 Boston University. Northeastern and No. 14/15 Boston College will play at 8 p.m. The games were originally scheduled for the same times on Monday.

The postponement could help Harvard, which is trying to get key players back from injury. In addition to star defenseman Patrick McNally, who is out for the rest of the regular season, Harvard was without the services of sophomore forwards Alex Kerfoot, Sean Malone, and Luke Esposito and other key players during Friday’s home game against Union.

Kerfoot and Malone are back on the ice but skating non-contact, according to Assistant Director of Athletics Communications Brock Malone on Sunday. Kerfoot has been out since Nov. 29, while Malone has not played since Dec. 30. The two NHL draft picks have yet to play together in a game this season.

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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