PHILADELPHIA, Pa.--Sustained intensity the ability to confront a stronger opponent battle to a standoff and then make a final gutsy charge thus is what the Harvard men's basketball looks.
Playing Saturday without their starting center and in front of 4329 delerious fans at Penn's Palestra, the Crimson cagers stayed within one point of the Ivy League's best for 27 minutes, but then seemed to realize they were supposed to lose and promptly did so, 72-99.
"It's happened a lot this season." Harvard Coach Frank McLaughlin observed after the game. "We've made the runs, and come at teams again and again, but it's been that we've just run out of gas"
Guard Calvin Dixon, a Philadelphia native, who lost in front of his hometown fans for the third consecutive time in his three years at Harvard, put it more bluntly. "We get distracted too much, like we blame too much stuff on the officiating." He added, "Your concentration level has to be there--always thinking. Until we learn that, we'll never be a championship team."
With three games left, the 4-7 Crimson will need some luck to finish in fourth place, while the Quakers (11-2) fight it out with second-place Columbia for the top spot.
"If we take all those, I would consider if an okay season," said McLaughlin, explaining that injuries to Dizon, reserve forward Ken Plutnicki, and most recently, center Monroe Trout, crippled a Harvard squad picked as a title contender by experts last fall.
The key ingredient in McLaughlin's championship recipe was to have been Captain Don Fleming, the top Ivy scorer in 1981 But the driving 6-ft, 4in forward has played inconsistently this year, mixing ferocious offensive sprees with mysterious dry spells.
In the first half against Penn, Fleming awed the speedy Quakers with a combination of back-door lay ups and short jumpers, good for 18 points Harvard's 10-for-10 performance at the free-throw line also cut into the Quakers overall control of the game, and the buzzer sounded with Penn ahead by four, 36-32.
As Fleming described it, the Harvard defense crumbled first Penn's flexible attack of inside motion plays and reliable perimeter shooting began to wear down the beleaguered Crimson zone. "Once we broke down a little bit, the offense started failing too," said Fleming
In other words, Harvard's powerhouse stopped hitting He went one for-seven from the floor in the second half, finishing with 22 points, and guard Bob Ferry was the only other Harvard player to join him in double figures with 10 points
Several broken plays kept Harvard in the same through the first part of the second stanza and when Ferry peked up a loose hall and drown is home at 13.32 he cut the Penn lead to one 44.43.
That Ain't Nothin'
The opportunity was there favorite son Dixon saves the day Joe Carrabino breaks a moderate offensive slump and stuns the Palestra maniacs Fleming pours it on even after playing a whole game's worth in the first 20 minutes.
And then the opportunity was gone Penn stalwarts Paul Little Michael Brown teamed with reserve center George Noon to bulldoze the surging Crimson into a flat helpless. For the second came in a row five Crimson subs played the last two minutes and Harvard left the floor in a flurry of missed foul shots and unprovoked turnovers
THE NOTE BOOK: Don Fleming upped his career point total to 1729 during the weekend games against U. Penn and Princeton Fleming has 934 point to Ivy play and an outside shot at braking the 1000 mark in the cagers' remaining three games