Tonight will be a homecoming of sorts for the Harvard basketball team when Tom Sanders and his squad face the Lions of Columbia in an 8 p.m. game in New York.
Sanders played his collegiate basketball at NYU and grew up on 116th Street and Sixth Ave. in New York. Lou Silver (Merrick, N.Y.), Arnie Needleman (Wantagh, N.Y.), Ken Wolfe (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Mike Griffin (Port Washington, N.Y.) are no strangers to the bright lights of the Big Apple.
The Crimson sports a two-game winning streak and stands 5-10 overall and 3-2 in the Ivy League. The Lions have stumbled on the Yellow Brick road to success 15 times and can show only 2 wins. Jack Rohan's sophomore-dominated squad is 1-5 in the Ivy League.
Harvard defeated Northeastern and Yale just before the start of the exam period and hopes to extend that streak over the weekend. Columbia is the first game in an Empire State road trip that also features a clash with Cornell Saturday night in Ithaca.
Bill Carey, a 6 ft. 5 in. forward, and junior Steve Selinger were inserted into the starting lineup in mid-January and the team responded with two consecutive wins. Carey, a sophomore, scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 59-53 Ivy League victory over Yale in the IAB.
Lou Silver pulled down 26 rebounds in that game, a career high and five short of the Crimson record set in 1955 by Bob Canty. Silver leads the Harvard team in scoring with a 17.4 point - per - game average. Captain Tony Jenkins averages 15.3.
Columbia is coming off a lost weekend on the road. Princeton destroyed the New Yorkers, 90-47, and Penn rolled to a 73-36 victory over the Lions. It has been a long time since Heyward Dotson and Jim McMillian graced University Gym and the Lions' only wins have been against equally hapless Cornell and City College.
Mark Hardaway, a 6 ft. 1 in. junior guard, leads Columbia with an 11.8 scoring average. Senior captain John Byrnes, a 5 ft. 9 in. playmaker, follows Hardaway with an 8.1 average. Four sophomores play underneath: John Avery, Larry Collins, Jerry Boone and Rick Newsome.
Tonight's game may resemble a cross-city rivalry more than an Ivy League contest. Rohan played for Columbia in the early '50s and once coached at NYU, Sanders's alma mater. His squad features several home area stars. Starters Byrnes (Bronx, N.Y.), Hardaway (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Avery (Ridgefield, N.J.) are all locals and most of Columbia's bench hails from the tri-state area. To top it off, the name of the Columbia freshman basketball coach is...Mike Griffin.