Dartmouth men's basketball Coach Dave Faucher has something that Harvard wants very badly.
Harvard (0-11, 0-1 Ivy) is like a ticking time bomb: at some point, the team will explode. Whether it explodes for a win or explodes itself remains to be seen.
The Crimson faces Dartmouth (4-6, 1-0 Ivy) in Hanover Saturday night, and Faucher, who favors the first scenario, is terrified that his team might be the unlucky opponent.
"Harvard's overdue for a win," Faucher said. "I can't believe that a team that plays as hard as they do has a record like they have."
Faucher's respect is grounded in Dartmouth's 56-53 win over Harvard in December. In that game, the Crimson shot 32% in the second half, but still blew several chances to put the game away.
Harvard's forwards, Captain Ron Mitchell, Mike Minor and Peter Condakes combined to shoot 8-for-25 from the floor that night.
"We really had the chances," Harvard Coach Frank Sullivan said. "That was our one really good chance to win this year."
While Harvard was tossing up bricks, Dartmouth point guard Mike Crotty (brother of former Virginia guard John Crotty) scored a team-high 11 points without missing a shot, while his ball handling kept the Crimson on its heels for most of the night. Big Green forward Stan Kowaleski added nine on 3-4 shooting from downtown.
Only Tyler Rullman's heroics at the free throw line (8-for 9 in the second half) kept the game from complete disaster for the Crimson.
"We were very happy to escape with a win," Faucher said. "Every Ivy League game is a war."
The rematch should feature more of the same. If the shots fall for Condakes, Mitchell and Minor, the advantage will swing to Harvard for the simple reason that Dartmouth does not have the muscle to stop the Crimson's inside game.
"Harvard is a very big team, especially with Rullman at guard," Faucher said. "They physically battered us last time."
The Crimson is big. Mitchell, Minor and Rullman are listed at 6'7" while Condakes is listed at 6'8". No other team in the League can field four comparative players. The matchups are a coach's dream.
In December, Faucher was forced to match up his 6'2" sophomore guard Gregg Frame against Minor for part of the game. The Big Green forwards, Kowaleski and Jamie Halligan, are primarily perimeter shooters and not tough post defenders.