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Is it back to the drawing board for Coach Kathy Delaney Smith?
Picked at the start of the season to repeat as Ivy League champions, the Harvard women's basketball team has been struggling of late. Most recently, the Crimson dropped its first Ivy League game to Dartmouth, 74-55, in Hanover last Saturday.
One year ago, Harvard pummeled Dartmouth by 24 points. And with last season's humbling 4-10 Ivy record, Dartmouth was picked to finish fourth in this year's campaign.
Thus, Harvard's defeat at the hands of the Big Green was a surprise, to say the least.
"It was horrible basketball," Delaney Smith said. "The seven days off hurt us--we mentally did not show up for the game."
Prior to this disappointment, however, things were looking up for the Crimson. Travelling to Florida over Christmas vacation, the team played well in two losses to high caliber opponents, Florida International University and the University of Miami.
Although Harvard fell to the Florida squads (FIU 81-73, UM 87-62), Delaney Smith "couldn't have asked for more" from her team over the break.
Only a lack of bodies due to injuries and foul trouble hindered the Crimson in their contest against FIU. As for Miami, while Harvard played remarkably well, Miami put forth "the best game of women's basketball I've seen in ten years," Delaney Smith said.
And so, the Crimson planned to return to Cambridge with its game well-polished, ready to start the new year against Dartmouth with a bang.
Well, maybe not.
The Crimson (3-8 overall, 0-1 Ivy) hopes to redeem themselves for the Dartmouth loss in tonight's match-up against the Northeastern Huskies at the Cabot Gymnasium.
The Huskies enter this affair with an overall 4-5 record. While Coach Joy Malchodi claims that her team is weakened by a bout with the flu, Delaney Smith won't let her squad overlook the Huskies.
"They're a very athletic team. They play run and gun," Delaney Smith said.
Harvard must watch out for Huskie freshmen Jackie Guidroz and Carrin Jones, high-scorers for the Northeastern offense.
Rebounding, as always, will play a role in this match-up. Northeastern has out-rebounded its opponents by an average of 43-41 per contest.
If the Crimson can regain its mental composure and maintain intensity for a full forty minutes, the squad could return to Cambridge with a win.
As for Northeastern, Malchodi says she's not concerned with winning or losing, but with staying healthy.
"I hope we can keep everyone on the court not feeling nauseous," Malchodi prayed.
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