The Harvard basketball team left Cambridge a week early this year, but not for a vacation. The Crimson headed south to Tennessee for the Volunteer Classic basketball tournament and returned with a respectable second-place finish, losing 84-69 in the finals Saturday night to host University of Tennessee.
Coach Tom Sanders's men were impressive in defeat. They led by one at the half, 34-33, on the strength of 58 per cent shooting from the field. But after sophomore guard Dave Rogers tied the score for the Crimson at 46 with 6:40 gone in the second half, Tennessee's rebounding advantage began to show. With 3:58 remaining in the game, the Volunteers led by 12.
Harvard pulled to within seven with 2:50 to go, but could not stay within range. Tennessee won going away, sinking a 40-footer at the buzzer.
The Crimson missed sophomore center Brian Banks, who was injured and stayed in Cambridge. "Without Brian, we were lacking board strength," Rogers said. "But they never really broke it open. They never even took their starters out."
Even without Banks, the Crimson earned the respect of Tennessee Coach Ray Mears. "At halftime," Rogers said, "their coach told them we were the toughest defensive team they'd played all year."
Captain Lou Silver continued to shine for the Crimson, netting 27 points in the finale. The 6 ft., 7 in. forward set five tournament records, including the scoring marks for single game (38 points) and tournament (65 points).
Silver and teammate Arnie Needleman, who added 16 against the Vols, were named to the all-tournament team. Jonas Honick had nine and Rogers eight.
Tennessee freshman Bernard King, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, led all scorers with 29 points.
The Crimson, now 2-3, opens its Ivy League season Thursday night at the IAB against Dartmouth.