Men's Cagers Try to Fly Out Of Doldrums

WINTER 1994-95

The winter season saw the men's basketball team turn stone-cold before beating up in, while the men's hockey team was iced by RPI. But there were also winners, such as the Harvard squash teams and the women's hockey team, winner of the 1995 beanpot.

In 1988, the Baltimore Orioles began the season with 21 consecutive losses. The O's would be known forever for that streak, unable to joyfully face into oblivion like any other bad team. The string of losses became their woeful, defining trademark.

The Harvard men's basketball team can relate. Coming into the 1994-95 season, Ivy watchers projected the Crimson to do well. Harvard finished 9-17 in 1993-1994 and had only one senior. The prospect of a .500 season looked possible.

At first, things went well. Harvard jumped out to a 3-3 start, with wins over St. Francis, Babson and Dartmouth, who would finish tied for second in the Ivy League.

Then the bomb fell. The Crimson lost 10 straight games and 16 out of its next 17, with the lone win being a one-point victory over Columbia, a doormat upon doormats. Harvard would finish 6-20 overall and 4-10 in the Ivy league, marks similar to the three other Frank Sullivan seasons. Nevertheless, the long losing streak will force the 1994-1995 edition of Harvard basketball to unhappily stand out above all the rest.


It was an ugly stretch, with consistently mediocre Harvard play. Besides two Penn punishments, Harvard only lost by more than 10 points twice, took one game to overtime and another to double overtime.

But although the games were close, the Crimson still deserved to lose them. At times, Harvard would play disastrously, such as fouling a total of 62 times in back-to-back games or hitting only two out of eight free throws in the second extra period of the double overtime loss to Princeton.

Most disturbingly, though, it began to seem as though Harvard couldn't win, like some Yalie kept sticking pins in a Harvard voodoo doll. Harvard held leads in many of the games--sometimes large ones, such as a 30-18 advantage over Yale on February 11. And other times the Crimson could not take advantage of golden opportunities, such as when Brown lost star guard Erick Blackiston but still beat Harvard, 63-61, on February 25.

To boot, the Crimson was having some problems of its own. Starting junior forward/center Darren Rankin injured his back in early January, forcing him to miss the rest of the season. A stress fracture kept fellow junior Mike Gilmore at less than 100 percent, although the injury did not sideline him.

All in all, it was a forgettable period.

Thankfully for Harvard, however, all bad things must come to an end. In this case, the turnaround was a full 180 degrees.

In the final two games of the season--home affairs with Cornell and Columbia--Harvard played like a 20-6 club, winning both games by a combined 49 points. Harvard has not accomplished consecutive season ending victories since 1977.

The final two games were not the only bright spots. Sophomore forward Kyle Snowden led the team in scoring and rebounding and was a second-team All-Ivy selection. Also, senior Dan Morris and captain Jared Leake were first and second in the Ivies in steals. Gilmore shot above 30 percent from behind the three-point arc. Sophomore Dave Demian, freshman Paul Fisher and freshman Mike Scott had impressive rookie campaigns.

No, the season was not a success. But in the last two games of the year, Harvard showed that it has talent. How much of it will come out next season is another question.