Three Things To Watch: Bryant

Published by David Freed on November 26, 2015 at 11:18AM
Moment of Zen

Junior forward Zena Edosomwan has dominated the glass and leads the Crimson in rebounds, but has struggled at the foul line, shoot just over 50 percent from the charity stripe this season.

Men’s Basketball beat writer David Freed notes three things to watch in the lead up to the fifth game of the season for the 1-3 Crimson, who take on Bryant at 7 p.m. Eastern.

1. Struggles At the Point — Harvard coach Tommy Amaker was frank after freshman point guard Tommy McCarthy turned in a zero-assist, five turnover game Sunday at Boston College, noting that “it is a process for a young player”. McCarthy has been the starter in each of the four games but has struggled offensively, with 15 turnovers against 11 assists and 33 field goal misses against just nine makes. Backup junior Corbin Miller has been steadier, if unspectacular, in limited action with just four turnovers in 85 minutes. The Crimson enter a soft spot in their schedule with three winnable games against Bryant, Holy Cross, and Northeastern before traveling to Kansas. If McCarthy continues to struggle against easier competition, Amaker may consider moving to his more experienced backup.

2. Usage v. Efficiency — One of the perplexing conundrums for the Crimson through four games has been the offensive play of junior forward Zena Edosomwan. The former top-100 recruit has been a monster on the glass—averaging four more rebounds than anyone on the team—but offensively has been an enigmas. On a team that shoots just under 59 percent from the line, Edosomwan is a primary culprit, making just half of his 26 attempts, shooting nearly as well from the field (49 percent) as he does from the line. Given that Harvard’s starting backcourt is shooting just 30 percent combined, the team has not lost a step offensively by force-feeding the junior in the post, but the situation is one to monitor going forward.

3. Taking Care of the Ball — Amaker, a former point guard himself, always focuses on his team taking care of the ball. After the team turned it over 24 times against Holy Cross a year ago, he notes that “it is hard to think that you are going to be able to win, let alone have a chance to win, with that many turnovers”. In the past he has praised Siyani Chambers ’15-’16 for his steadiness at the point, keeping the team’s offense on track and under control. Without Chambers, the team’s assist-to-turnover ratio has slipped from 1.1 to 0.8. Freshman Corey Johnson is the only starter averaging more assists than turnovers. Look for it to be a focus of improvement moving forward.

Three Things to Watch: Harvard-UMass

Published by David Freed on November 18, 2015 at 1:16PM

The Harvard men’s basketball team (1-1) split its two opening contests—beating crosstown rival MIT by 20 and losing to Providence on the road by 12. The Crimson return home to take on the UMass Minutemen (1-0) tonight at 7:00. Beat writer David Freed details three things to watch below.

1. Starting Afresh — Of the 10 starters in last year’s game between the two teams, just one—senior Agunwa Okolie—will begin the game tonight. Both programs have suffered from departures of leading stars, either to graduation (Cady LaLanne, Wesley Saunders ’15), injury (senior Siyani Chambers), or transfer (Derrick Gordon). That makes it difficult to take anything away from the teams’ classic last year—a three-point Harvard victory where neither team led by more than three in the final 17 minutes. As a result, while last year’s game presented two fairly polished products, the two teams that take the court Tuesday will still be in their formative phases.

2. Changing of the Guard — UMass coach Derek Kellogg spotlighted his team’s backcourt advantage in a weekend interview; given that the Crimson start two freshmen, Corey Johnson and Tommy McCarthy, Kellogg expects to press the issue. Johnson and McCarthy have been the two leading Harvard scorers through two games, however, combining for 23.5 points a game.

The former is the team’s best floor spacer, making eight treys across two contests and a gunner mentality from deep. McCarthy has struggled with his shot (2-for-13 against Providence) but has been a steadier hand at the point than juniors Corbin Miller and Matt Fraschilla, the latter out with an undiagnosed injury. UMass guards Jabarie Hinds and Donte Clark will look to exploit the two freshmen early and often. Yet, McCarthy and Johnson—who commented Saturday that the team should never be satisfied with close losses in big games—will likely be ready for the challenge.

3. Pace and Space — The elements of “pace and space” in the Crimson’s offensive sets are subtle but present. After a year where the Crimson struggled mightily with spacing, the introduction of two very ready—and capable—shooters in the backcourt has created a freer floor for the Crimson. Johnson in particular runs through screen after screen with free rein to bomb away (7.5 three-point attempts a game). Many of his attempts come in transition, where McCarthy pushes the pace to find easy looks early and often. UMass likes to run—it ranked 51st in KenPom’s adjusted tempo metric last year—and will force the Crimson’s inexperienced guards to make snap decisions time and time again. Harvard’s ability to do so will largely decide the outcome.

Harvard Alumni Update: Fitzpatrick Continues to Shine

Published by Manav Khandelwal on November 10, 2015 at 12:45AM

It was a successful week for former Harvard athletes this past week across a number of professional leagues. Here are just a few of the former Crimson standouts who featured heavily over the past seven days:

Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB, New York Jets - NFL)

Ryan Fitzpatrick, who quarterbacked the 2004 Harvard football team to an undefeated, Ancient Eight championship season, has blossomed under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey this season, leading the New York Jets to a 5-3 record through eight games.

Fitzpatrick, dealt from Houston to the Jets this offseason, put in a gritty performance this weekend, leading New York to a 28-23 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars despite playing with a torn ligament in his thumb. He completed 21-of-34 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns, continuing to find chemistry with wideouts Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall.

The former Ivy League MVP will likely have in-season surgery to repair his thumb, but doctors have suggested he may not have to miss any games as a result.

Jeremy Lin (PG, Charlotte Hornets - NBA)

Former Harvard men’s basketball star Jeremy Lin, one of the newest member of the Charlotte Hornets, has found stability in North Carolina after several years in limbo. He signed a two-year deal with the Hornets after playing out the final year of his contract in Los Angeles last season, where he was in and out of the starting lineup for the 25-win Lakers.

After the run in New York that brought Lin national media attention, this campaign has been his most stable to date. He is firmly entrenched as Kemba Walker’s backup at the point guard spot, and the Crimson alum is averaging 24.9 points, 8.0 assists, and 6.8 rebounds per 48 minutes in his new role. He has played a key part in Charlotte’s recent resurgence, as they’ve now won two of three after losing their first three contests.

Cameron Brate (TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - NFL)

A two-time All-Ivy League honoree during his time in Cambridge, Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate has featured more heavily on the stat sheet in his second professional season. The Naperville, I.L. native has fiv e receptions for 78 yards this season, including a diving, 17-yard grab this sunday from Jameis Winston to earn the Bucs a key first down. Despite Brate’s effort, Tampa Bay still lost, 32-18, to the New York Giants.

Alexander Killorn (C, Tampa Bay Lightning - NHL)

Former Harvard men’s ice hockey standout Alexander Killorn has carved out a nice role for himself this season with last year’s runner-up Lightning. After notching 32 goals and 47 assists over the last two seasons centering Tampa Bay’s third line, Killorn has two goals and three assists thus far this season.

McGill Preview: Three Things to Look for in Men's Basketball Exhibition Game

Published by David Freed on November 08, 2015 at 1:27PM

As the men’s basketball team closes out its preseason with a scrimmage against McGill on Saturday afternoon, Crimson beat writer David Freed details three things to keep an eye on.

1. Spacing The Floor — The discussion of how to replace star point guard senior Siyani Chambers centers around his leadership and his passing. Chambers knows the in and outs of the offense down to a T, having run it for three years. This simplistic analysis ignores Chambers’ shooting ability. The career 38 percent shooter has become less accurate with age, but provided crucial shooting to an offense that went scoreless for long periods. Junior Corbin Miller is the team’s best shooter, but is ineffective off the dribble. The returning starters—senior Agunwa Okolie and junior Zena Edosomwan—provided nothing by way of shooting last year. Head coach Tommy Amaker has pledged to create spacing by posting up Edosomwan inside, hoping that he draws double-teams to open up space for shooters. Saturday is the first test of a theory that will merit scrutiny this year.

2. Chatfield’s Emergence — The sophomore averaged just under 10 minutes a game as a freshmen, demonstrating the length and shooting that made him a prized recruit out of Georgia. The team hopes that he can make a leap to be more of a slasher on the wing, but it isn’t clear that he will even crack the starting lineup. His progress may prove to be a good barometer for that of the team.

3. Defending At The Point — A frustrating player offensively, Chambers is a tenacious defender who has improved considerably on the less sexy end of the floor over his three years. His replacements are, in a word, incomparable. Junior Corbin Miller has not yet shown the agility and foot speed to keep up with high-quality opposing guards, and junior Matt Fraschilla faces a significant size deficit. Freshman Tommy McCarthy hasn’t had a chance to flash on-ball defense to this point, but will face a significant adjustment in moving up to the college level. Amaker’s teams are built on their defense—which is often among the best in the nation—and for a team short on offensive firepower, containing at the point of attack is a crucial priority.

Tweets of the Week

Published by Bryan Hu on November 06, 2015 at 9:38PM

The Harvard football team stayed undefeated on the season by knocking off previously-unbeaten Dartmouth, while the Denver Broncos did the same to the Green Bay Packers two days later (albeit in a much calmer manner). The University of Miami tossed a million laterals in one play, while Drew Brees threw for about the same number of touchdowns. And at some point during the first quarter, the 49ers led the Rams by a score of 3-2.

The end of October has come and gone, and despite the two NFC West teams trying to tell you otherwise, football season is in full swing.

That’s not to say that all else has come to a screeching halt, though, in favor of the pigskin. Lack of progress only applies to psets and essays unfortunate enough to be left to Sunday.

Instead, Harvard athletes of all sports are just starting to light up the ever-important Twitterverse, and that’s why we’re bringing you the top tweets of the week, handpicked just for you.