It’s not often that a freshman can walk onto the college basketball scene and make a splash, but sophomore guard Christine Clark did just that last year as a rookie on the Harvard women’s basketball team. Playing in all of the Crimson’s games last season, she contributed greatly in both scoring and on the boards.
“Last season, coming in as a freshman, I was fortunate enough to start,” Clark says. “Throughout the season, I was just learning about college basketball, the level of play, and the different things you have to focus on. During the season, it was just a big learning experience for me.”
It looked like Harvard women’s basketball coach Kathy Delaney-Smith had hit it the jackpot in November 2010 when she signed Temi Fagbenle, the Crimson’s first top-20 recruit in recent memory.
Only a year later, Delaney-Smith found out that her new recruit would be ineligible to play her freshman season in a Harvard jersey. According to the NCAA, Fagbenle, who came to the United States after her sophomore year of high school, stayed at Blair Academy in New Jersey for an extra year for athletic rather than academic purposes, making her eligible for only three years of college basketball.
Harvard has boasted among its ranks coaches who have made profound, indelible changes in the history of college athletics. There’s Harold Ulen, who, starting in 1929, developed a winning men’s swimming program over his 30-year tenure. John “Jack” Barnaby spent 40 years in charge of the men’s and women’s squash programs and trained some of the game’s greatest players. In his 30 seasons as head coach of the track and field program, William McCurdy racked up 445 wins and was considered one of the great instructors of his age. And nobody can forget legendary crew coach Harry Parker, who, after his appointment in 1961, has won numerous national championships and has raised Harvard crew into the highest echelon of sporting excellence.
In this 2011-2012 season, another Crimson coach will join the ranks of these dedicated mentors. Kathy Delaney-Smith enters her 30th season at the helm of the Harvard women’s basketball program as the winningest Ivy League women’s coach in history with a 456-319 overall record. Delaney-Smith is second in Ivy League victories with 274 (legendary former Princeton men’s basketball coach Pete Carril holds the top mark with 315 in 29 years). She has coached nine 20-win seasons and her teams have posted records of .500 or better in 22 of the last 23 years.
It is rare that when asked about what a player needs to improve upon, a coach is rendered at a loss for words.
But Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith struggles to pinpoint something that co-captain point guard Brogan Berry needs to work on.
For the second straight season, Crimson coach Kathy Delaney-Smith has added a top-100 recruit.
Recent Harvard commit Shilpa Tummala, a 5’11 guard from St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix, Ariz., is listed by ESPN as the 68th-best overall player and the 28th-best guard in the nation.