And the reins are off.
Harvard men's basketball Coach Peter Roby has given his team the freedom to run as much as possible--almost.
The Crimson ran all weekend, managing to score 73 points Friday night against the nation's best defensive team, Princeton, and then pummelling Penn, 105-97, Saturday in the Palestra.
"It's gotten to the point where no shot is a bad shot," Roby said. "I told the kids that their idols should be Loyola-Marymount," the team reknowned for its ability to work the ball up the court and shoot as quickly as possible.
But Roby hasn't given the team total freedom.
"We don't play as wide open as [Loyola does]. Maybe if I made as much money as [Loyola Coach] Paul [Westhead] does and had a championship ring, I could afford to let them go more," Roby said.
Putting in a Good Word: One night after Harvard lost to Princeton by 13 points, Dartmouth got crushed by the Tigers, 66-28, in the worst offensive show of a college basketball game that this reporter has ever seen. Dartmouth barely managed to get shots off, taking only 34 in the game.
Dartmouth Coach Paul Cormier, whose team had entered the weekend tied for first place in the Ivy League, was decimated by the result of the game.
"It's hard for me to swallow how far the Dartmouth program is behind Princeton after I've been here for six years," Cormier said. "You guys are covering one great basketball team and one great coach [Princeton Coach Pete Carril]."
But Cormier wasn't willing to throw in the towel and cede the Ivy League race to the Tigers. When asked if he felt there was any team that could catch Princeton, he named one.
"The other best team in the Ivy League is Harvard," Cormier said.
A New Direction: Another significant change in the look of the second-place Crimson this weekend was--obviously--Ralph James' clearance to shoot the ball early, late, often, whenever, don't think twice about it, NOW. Roby had given the junior guard A-1 clearance to shoot the ball much more, and the results were clearly successful, despite Friday's loss to Princeton.
James scored 76 points this weekend on 23-for-40 shooting including eight three-pointers.
"Coach has given me a lot of confidence," James said over and over this weekend. "He told my teammates that I was going to shoot more and they have confidence in me too."
Lost in the Shuffle: So Ralph James is going to score, we know that, but the overarching question undoubtedly is can Harvard make up one game on Princeton and win the Ivy League?
A likely barometer is the play of forward Ron Mitchell and point guard Dana Smith. Against the Tigers, Mitchell struggled all game, finishing with only 12 points and four rebounds before fouling out. And Smith only added four points and one assist in the loss.
But against Penn. Mitchell and Smith came to play. The forward pumped in 28 points and grabbed 12 boards while Smith tallied nine points and dished out five assists.