Presumably, this is how the discussion in the Harvard men’s basketball locker room went prior to the team’s game last Friday against Penn:
Crimson Coach Tommy Amaker: “…and, you know, we’re going to need our big guys to step up. Jonah has been doing it all season. Steve, we’re going to need a little more consistency out of you. And Kenyatta, I mean…you were a three-star recruit, top twenty in the country at your position, so it’s time—“
Sophomore Kenyatta Smith: “I WAS WHAT?” [sprints to court, blocks ten shots]
I wonder what the Thursday night odds were on Smith winning Ivy Player of the Week. He certainly earned the award, racking up 34 points on 93 percent shooting, 16 rebounds, and 16 blocks in the weekend’s two games, including a near-triple-double on Friday. Those are comical numbers for a guy who came into the matchup against Penn averaging 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, but the Crimson wouldn’t have swept the Killer P’s without him.
Perhaps more encouraging than the gaudy stats he put up on the Quakers was his play the next night against Princeton, in which he filled Harvard’s biggest hole—an intimidating interior defensive presence to complement sophomores Jonah Travis and Steve Moundou-Missi. If Smith can submit something that approaches that performance on a consistent basis, Harvard’s slim lead atop the Ivy standings starts to look quite a bit more formidable.
HARVARD at BROWN
The Crimson opens its weekend with a light jaunt to Providence to take on the Bears and freshman forward Cedric Kuakumensah, coming off an Ivy Rookie of the Week performance. Kuakumensah was particularly impressive in defeat against Cornell on Saturday, overwhelming the Big Red with a string of seemingly unrelated consonants and vowels on his way to 13 points, 19 rebounds, and four blocks. He may cause one or two problems for Harvard down low, but the Crimson front line is playing with confidence. It won’t take double overtime to put away Brown.
DARTMOUTH at YALE
The Bulldogs will gear up for their rivalry showdown the next night with a home date against the Big Green. Expect Yale to enter the weekend with confidence, fresh off a 19-point dismantling of Columbia in which the Bulldogs shot 62 percent from the field. Expect Dartmouth to play substandard basketball.
PRINCETON at COLUMBIA
Embarking on another of its season-ending road journeys—the Tigers will have played seven of their last nine away from Jadwin Gymnasium by the end of the year—Princeton makes the quick northeastern jump to New York to take on last-place Columbia. The Lions’ only real chance lies with Steve Frankoski and his startling 48.7 percent three-point shooting; if he gets as hot as he did against the Crimson (5-for-7 from beyond the arc), things could get interesting.
PENN at CORNELL