With the conference schedule just now getting underway, it’s time for a look back in The Crimson’s midseason report card on how the Harvard men’s basketball team has fared thus far through the non-conference schedule.
The interior game has been a model of consistency.
Junior forward Matt Stehle has scored at least 11 points in every game this season and has pulled down at least seven boards in all but one. Stehle has been able to stay on the court by avoiding foul trouble, averaging just three a contest—nearly a foul per game less than last season.
Sophomore Brian Cusworth has recorded at least 13 points in each of the eight games he’s played, and he currently leads the Crimson in scoring. Like Stehle, Cusworth pulled down at least seven rebounds in all but one contest. The 7’0 center missed four games with an injury to his left thumb, but returned against the Big Green yesterday.
The difficulty for the Crimson has been feeding Stehle and Cusworth inside. The two big men have generated most of their own scoring opportunities off of offensive rebounds and a nifty high-low game, which has helped Stehle rack up 25 assists—second best on the team.
Coming into the season, the biggest question mark centered on who would play point guard. With the emergence of senior David Giovacchini, who has recorded a 1.22 assist-to-turnover ratio—the only Harvard player to have more helpers than giveaways—in the team’s first 12 games, the point has been relatively stabilized. Giovacchini has recorded games of six, seven and nine assists and has eclipsed double-digits in scoring five times this season, including a 20-point performance in the overtime win over Colgate.
But the strengthening point guard position has been met with a decline from the two- and three-guard spots. Senior Kevin Rogus, Harvard’s single-season three-point record holder, has had serious trouble springing free on the perimeter for open looks. Rogus averaged 2.74 trifectas per game last season, but had hit more than two in only three games this year, before breaking out with seven in the overtime loss to Tennessee Tech.
Captain Jason Norman has shown flashes of the slashing guard that the Crimson so badly needs. But Norman’s sore knee—a chronic injury that has hampered him throughout his Harvard career—has kept him from developing into a consistent force. He has also had trouble drawing fouls and getting to the line, earning just 10 tries from the stripe and hitting just five.
With Rogus unable to find room to shoot and Norman having a tough time getting to the basket, the Crimson has been consistently outplayed at the guard position, something which will need to be turned around for Harvard to be successful in the Ivy season.
With Cusworth’s four-game hiatus, senior Graham Beatty jumped from the bench to the starting lineup, as he did in Cusworth’s absence all of last season. Beatty responded well scoring a career-high 12 points against Long Island, and pulling down 6.25 boards a contest over that four game span.
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