Harvard Starts Season in TD Garden

On Point
Emily C. Wong

Last season, point guard Siyani Chambers led the Crimson to an Ivy League title and the second round of the NCAA tournament. The sophomore floor general will look to take Harvard even farther this year.

As the Harvard men’s basketball team prepares to take the floor for its season opener on Sunday, expectations surrounding the club are higher than ever.

After grabbing at least a share of the Ivy League crown in each of the last three seasons and winning a total of 69 games, the Crimson has established itself as the team to beat in the Ancient Eight.

Harvard’s upset victory over New Mexico in last year’s NCAA Tournament has also earned the team attention on the national stage. The Crimson enter the season ranked 31st in the nation by the Associated Press and 32nd in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

Nonetheless, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker says that his team is trying to ignore the hype.

“Our identity is consistent, our standards are consistent, and our goals are consistent,” Amaker said. “A lot of times [compared to] whatever the quote-unquote expectations may be, more than likely, our standards and our goals are even higher.”


This season the Crimson will be full of familiar faces. Last season’s co-captain Christian Webster was the only senior on last year’s squad, but even he will be returning to the Harvard bench as an assistant coach.

Seniors Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey will also make their returns on Sunday. After sitting out last season, the two veterans will look to create an immediate impact.

“I’m excited,” Curry said. “It’s a day I’ve been waiting for for a long, long time, so I’m just thrilled that it’s finally here…This is the best that I’ve ever felt, and I’m just excited to be back [and] ready to go for this year.”

The Crimson is slated to play Holy Cross in the finale of the first annual Coaches vs. Cancer Tripleheader at the TD Garden. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the event will first feature a match-up between Boston University and Northeastern, followed by a game between Boston College and UMass.

The Crusaders are looking to open the season strong as they attempt to rebound from a seventh place finish in the Patriot League. Holy Cross finished the 2012-13 campaign with a 12-18 record, winning only four conference games.

Although the Crusaders lead its overall series with Harvard, 40-25, the Crimson has beaten Holy Cross five consecutive times. However, when the two teams clashed last year at Lavietes Pavilion, the Crusaders gave the host all it could handle.

Led by 22 points from then-junior forward Dave Dudzinski, the Crusaders battled Harvard shot for shot. But four made free throws down the stretch by Crimson co-captain Laurent Rivard sealed a 72-65 Harvard victory.

The Crimson will have its hands full again trying to defend Dudzinski. Now a co-captain, the forward is looking to build on a season in which he averaged 15.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Fellow co-captain Justin Burrell, a junior point guard, is also an integral part of the Holy Cross offense.

Amaker has yet to announce his starting lineup for Sunday’s game. The depth of his team offers an abundance of potential starting combinations.

“We could have different lineups for different games, [and] we could have different lineups for different halves,” Amaker said. “We’ve talked to our guys [about] not focusing so much on starting and total number of minutes, [but] how productive can we be, how efficient can we be, and how good can we be with whatever unit is out on the floor.”


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