WASHINGTON, D.C.—Yesterday afternoon, I stood in the parking lot of the Verizon Center along with my fellow Crimson writers waiting for the lot’s manager to come discuss the boot his staff had deemed necessary to put on our car’s front left tire.
With time to spare, I reflected on the game we had just watched—the Harvard men’s basketball team’s 86-70 loss to No. 13 Georgetown—and two moments from the contest remained particularly clear in my mind.
The first happened with about four minutes remaining in the first half, when Crimson co-captain and star guard Jeremy Lin stole the ball and raced down the court on a fast break. All that stood in the way of Lin and two points was the Hoyas’ imposing standout forward Greg Monroe, who finished the game with 16 points, 16 rebounds, five blocks and four steals.
But despite the 6’11 juggernaut obstructing his path to the basket, Lin fearlessly attacked the net. Taking to the air, the Harvard guard went up and under—twice—to evade Monroe’s block attempt and put away the layup.
The basket brought the Crimson within two, 33-31, and Harvard would tie the score on its next possession before giving up an 11-0 run that allowed Georgetown to run away with the game.
The second moment that stood out most to me came in the contest’s closing minutes, with the game already out of the Crimson’s reach, when Harvard coach Tommy Amaker sent out a lineup of sophomore forward Keith Wright and four freshmen: Christian Webster, Brandyn Curry, Kyle Casey, and Dee Giger.
It seemed like the kind of move many coaches would employ in a blowout defeat—let your rookies eat up garbage time, keep your veterans from getting hurt, and live to fight another day. But the five guys on the court weren’t exactly benchwarmers Amaker was handing out meaningless minutes to. Harvard’s young guns have seen significant playing time this season—Webster has even started in place of injured sophomore guard Max Kenyi—and their play will be critical to the Crimson’s success in its quest for its first-ever Ivy League title.
What do these two images have in common? More importantly, what do they mean for Harvard’s chances in the Ancient Eight hunt? I’m glad I asked.
To answer the first question, both should give Crimson fans reason for optimism and cause for concern.
Lin is a legit NBA prospect, an Ivy League Player of the Year frontrunner, and one of the greatest players in Harvard history.
“We have a sensational player in Jeremy Lin,” Amaker said after the game, “one that can carry us for stretches at a time.”
The senior has made a name for himself by rising to the occasion against tough opponents, dropping 30 and 25 points, respectively, against UConn and Boston College this season. Yesterday, it seemed like he was on his way to another memorable performance, and the way he went at Monroe without hesitation was inspiring.
“Lin is terrific in every facet of the game,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said, “in how he’s so poised, keeps putting pressure on you.”
But after Lin went 3-for-3 from the field with nine points in the first half, the Hoyas threw double team after double team at him in the second and kept him relatively quiet—Lin scored just two points in the game’s final 17 minutes and finished with 15 overall.
This is bound to happen sometimes, especially against good teams. But when it does, Lin’s teammates need to step up and draw the defense’s attention away from the Harvard star. Yesterday, besides a few spurts of hot play from Wright and sophomore Oliver McNally, the Crimson failed to pick up the slack.