So the world hasn’t ended.
No, I’m not talking about the Mayan calendar. I’m talking Harvard basketball.
The 2012-13 men’s basketball season may have started in near-apocalyptic fashion. Already reeling from the graduations of Keith Wright ’12 and Oliver McNally ’12, the Crimson lost two more starters in September when co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry withdrew from the College.
At that point, the 2012-13 campaign looked bleak for the Crimson. With Harvard returning a single starter and featuring a rookie at the point, many Crimson fans were already looking ahead to next year when Curry and Casey are expected to return to the court.
But 10 games into the 2012-13 season it is becoming more and more clear that this year’s Crimson squad should not be overlooked.
Last Saturday, Harvard held off a late Holy Cross run to take a 72-65 win over the visiting Crusaders at Lavietes Pavilion. With the win, the Crimson improved to 6-4 on the year, giving Harvard the Ivy League’s best record with just over two weeks to go until the start of conference play.
“I wish we were a little better; I wish we wouldn’t have dropped a couple of games that we were involved in prior to today, but I’m pleased with how the kids have responded to coming into this year,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker following the Crimson’s victory over the Crusaders. “We’ve still maintained a great deal of our identity—what we’ve always preached here.”
The rookie point guard, who entered the season a question mark, has proven to be an answer. Listed at 6’0” and 170 lbs., freshman Siyani Chambers has given opposing point guards fits all season, establishing himself as one of the Crimson’s most consistent performers.
Chambers has seen more minutes than any other Harvard player, boasting the team’s top assist-turnover ratio and three-point percentage in addition to being the Crimson’s second leading scorer.
On Saturday, the rookie turned in another strong performance, posting 14 points on seven shots and five assists in 40 minutes of play.
“It’s what we’ve been accustomed to seeing,”Amaker said. “He’s a competitor. He’s a winner.”
“He’s really confident,” co-captain Christian Webster added. “He has a lot of poise for a young guy.”
Perhaps overshadowed by the emergence of Chambers has been the rise of sophomore forward Wesley Saunders.
After scoring in double-figures just twice as a rookie, Saunders has established himself as Harvard’s top scoring threat. The athletic wing is averaging 15.8 points per game and has scored in double-digits every game this season—making him the first player to do so in 10 straight contests since Wright accomplished the feat as a junior.
The Crimson certainly has a number of holes—the biggest being its interior defense. On Saturday, Holy Cross forward Dave Dudzinski added himself to a growing list of opposing forwards to go off against Harvard (see UConn’s DeAndre Daniels’ 23-point performance on Dec. 7 or Boston College’s Ryan Anderson’s 23-point, seven rebound game on Dec. 4). On Saturday, Dudzinski needed just 10 shots to post a game-high 22 points.