If you have to hit the hardwood after a three-week, exam-time layoff, there's simply nothing like a Columbia-Cornell weekend to ease the transition. Ask Tom Sanders, he can tell you.
Sanders' squad of scholar-athletes began spring semester by registering a 74-63 win over Cornell Saturday night, which, coupled with their 58-51 success at Columbia the night before, brightened Crimson prospects for a shot at the Ivy League basketball title.
Despite soporific play and a second half of ragged edges, Harvard stumbled through its Ithaca engagement to find itself in third place in the league, with a new lease on life.
Roaring to a 23-9 lead in the first 14 minutes, the Crimson finished the first half with a 35-19 edge over the Big Red, hitting on 60 per cent of its shots from the floor.
Cornell, sole owner of the Ivy cellar position and an 87-36 loser to Penn a week ago, hung on in the final half, though, repeatedly whittling the Harvard lead to 12 points to stave off the expected Crimson romp.
Sanders began to substitute early in the going, playing reserves Len Adams, Arnie Needleman and Mike Griffin before the first half's close.
Harvard finished with four players in double figures: Captain Tony Jenkins, 14; Adams, 12; Ken Wolfe, 12; and Lou Silver, 12.
Jenkins and Silver shared rebounding honors, with only nine apiece, indicating the extent to which Sanders' starters viewed the action from the bench. Silver continues to lead the Ivies in rebounds, averaging 13.3 per contest, while sporting a 17.9 point scoring average output.
The weekend marked a low point in the continuing downward spiral of Cornell's basketball program. Second-year coach Tony Coma, whose claim to fame lay in coaching Earl "The Pearl" Monroe at Philadelphia's Bartram High School, announced his resignation for "personal reasons" Thursday, leaving Ithaca with a 7-38 won-lost record. Assistant Tom Allen stepped in as interim coach against the Crimson.
New Lease on Title
Harvard, now 5-2 in Ivy competition and 7-10 overall, stands within striking distance of the league lead, aided by a schedule placing five of the seven remaining "stretch" games at home. Brown's upsets over Penn and Princeton this past weekend have boosted Harvard's chances and morale.
The Crimson host Penn on Friday and Princeton on Saturday at the IAB.