At this time last year, when then-Captain Tyler Rullman '93 was asked about the biggest improvement the squad had made in the last year, he answered in typical Tyler Rullman fashion.
Quietly, directly, he answered, "Tarik's back."
He referred, of course, to 5'10" point guard Tarik Campbell, who had taken a year off from the team but who was now back to direct the Crimson offense.
Despite the fact that Campbell had played college basketball for only one season until that point, Rullman expressed confidence that the team's entire tempo would improve with his addition.
Hindsight has proven Rullman completely correct.
Last season, Campbell emerged as Harvard's undisputed floor general, averaging 11.5 points, 5.9 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. He became, in the words of one magazine, one of "the best point guards in the [Ivy League]."
And now, he's back for his senior season--as captain. The team is his now, and he believes it will play just as he has always played: with relentless fury and a never-say-die attitude.
Campbell represents an anomaly in sports. He remains fiercely individual as a player but understands and preaches the value of team play.
On the one hand, with his slashing drives to the basket and the passes that are so quick that they can catch teammates off-guard, Campbell sometimes seems to operate at a different speed than the rest of his team.
More than one courtside observer has been known to exclaim, "Jeez, that is the fastest guy I've ever seen!" and with good reason.
Although he is the shortest player on the Harvard roster, Campbell can dunk. He did it last season in a game against Hartford's NBA first-round pick Vin Baker, and he does it again, in a triple-exposure photo, on a promotional poster currently being distributed by the Athletic Department.
But he remains modest about his talent, preferring instead to focus on the team he now captains.
"Statistics are not important," he said. "I want to improve in every area of my game, whether it be field goal percentage or more aggressive defense, but only because it helps the team."
In these words, Campbell does not seem ingenuous. Although he plays with a highly individualistic flair, he has already made his mark as team captain.
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