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Changing of the Guards

Ball Four

By Zachary T. Ball

This weekend was a coming-out party of sorts for the next generation of Crimson men's basketball. With five seniors and four key contributors on this year's squad graduating in June, the Crimson will have a decidedly different appearance next year.

That future look will necessarily include a healthy dose of the current freshman class, since only three upperclassmen with significant playing experience will be back next year.

Those in attendance this weekend got a sneak preview of the aggressive, fast-paced activity that will likely characterize next year's squad.

Freshmen guards Patrick Harvey and Drew Gellert have seen time throughout the season, though mainly in a supporting role. Recently, however, the two have seen increased time on the floor, and this weekend the two saw double-digit minutes in both games, with Gellert playing 45 minutes combined.

Their time on the court has increasingly made a significant impact on the tenor of the Crimson's game. Over the weekend, Gellert racked up 13 points, seven assists, 10 rebounds, and five steals. Harvey notched six points, four rebounds, and two assists.

"They've looked great after exams," said Harvard Coach Frank Sullivan. "They're clearly here for the future of the program, and continue to earn minutes on the court."

The two bring a sense of urgency to a defensive unit too often devoid of energy. Additionally, both are shooting above 50 percent from the floor, and can create opportunities for teammates with penetration and passing skills.

"I'm glad I'm getting to play," Gellert said. "I'm learning a lot in the program, and I'm getting a chance to do what I can to help the team win."

In more limited action, freshman guard Alex Lowder has shown athleticism and body control and could create serious match-up problems for opponents who must defend the agile all court guard.

Taken together, the three freshmen have shown potential to pick up next year where Harvard's outstanding senior backcourt class of Tim Hill and Make Beam will leave off.

Harvey is already one of the most respected shooters on the Harvard team. Coming in with an excellent shooting pedigree, the freshman has connected on 7-of-14 three-point attempts this season.

"[Harvey] really has an outstanding shot. He has great three-point range," Sullivan said.

But the freshman has proven to be much more than merely a stand-and-catch player.

In the first half against Yale, Harvey picked the pocket of a Bulldog ball-handler, navigated the length of the court and laid the ball in the hole.

Several trips earlier, Harvey fought through the lane to grab senior center Bill Ewing's miss and put the ball back for a bucket.

"[Harvey has] contributed a defensive presence, and has improved all season," Sullivan said.

Gellert has shown a similar knack for finding loose balls. Gellert cleared five offensive boards over the weekend, took a steal coast-to-coast and made several inventive passes, including feeding Hill through several Bulldog defenders for an open 12-foot jumper.

"[Gellert] gave us great energy off the bench," Hill said. "He's a great rebounder, and really likes to play uptempo."

That sort of aggression is a welcome dimension to a largely passive, halfcourt and offensively-minded Crimson backcourt. Of standards Hill, Beam, and junior Damian Long, none has more than 17 offensive rebounds in the Crimson's 18 games this season.

The only real concern with Gellert and Harvey's ascendance seems to be maintaining some individuality between the two.

With similar games, heights, and dark cropped hair, the two are at times indistinguishable without the numbers on their jerseys.

Sullivan regularly refers to them as "the freshmen," and Gellert confides that "coach mixes our names up in practice all the time."

However, Gellert calls Harvey "one of his best friends on campus," and that the two "are excited to play in the same backfield."

Gellert and Harvey. Harvard basketball should get used to the ring of that combination.

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