On Tuesday, the Harvard women’s basketball team (2-2) will welcome crosstown rival Boston University (0-3) to Lavietes Pavilion, looking to avenge last year's loss to the Terriers.
Over the last five years, the Crimson and the Terriers have been in close contention, with Harvard winning three of those games compared to BU’s two. In each of these five games, no team has won by more than 11 points.
The Crimson has been up-and-down through the early portion of its schedule, with wins over Massachusetts and Toledo interspersed with losses to Maine and Rhode Island.
Harvard employs a motion offensive system, using its versatility in speed and size to its advantage. Aside from the system, what has been clear so far is that the freshmen have been given the opportunity by Crimson coach Kathy Delaney-Smith to make an instant impact.
Freshmen guards Nani Redford, and Sydney Skinner have averaged around 20 minutes per game, while other freshman guard Madeline Raster has registered just over 30 minutes per game. Raster also leads the team with 2.8 assists per game and leads freshmen scoring with 7.8 points per contest.
The biggest standouts come on the other side of the experience spectrum: co-captain forward AnneMarie Healy and senior guard Shilpa Tummala, who lead the team in scoring.
The duo averages almost half of Harvard’s 63.8 points per game, with Healy pounding it down low with more than 15 points and 5 rebounds per game and Tummala contributing 14 points per game. Tummala has found success from downtown this year, shooting 47.6 percent from the three point line.
Though there will always be standouts, the team will look to work together as one cohesive unit in its attempt to fend off the Terriers.
“One huge emphasis this year is that we play team basketball,” Healy said. “Being a top scorer doesn't outshine rebounds, rotation on defense and positive energy – this is something that everyone on our team brings.”
With everyone contributing, the Crimson must continue to improve from each game and focus on reenacting the great parts of its game.
“This season we have seen flashes of how good our team is,” Healy said. “Our next step is going to be showing consistency. That is the real accomplishment of a championship team.”
Playing the Terriers present an excellent opportunity for Healy and her teammates.
BU has struggled so far this season. After just three games this season, its squad has given up 218 points and scored just 124 points. Last week proved difficult for the Terriers, losing to Albany by 40 points then to rival BC by 21 in its own gym.
For a team that scores just 41.3 points per contest, coach Katy Steding does not seem to have one go-to player. The team as a whole shoots just 30 percent from the field while its opponents enjoy good shooting nights at 47 percent from the field.
Though it is still early doors in the season, this game could prove to be pivotal for BU. After having been blown out in each of its opening three games, another one tomorrow in the Lavietes Pavilion could set the Terriers’ back even further.
The Terriers are looking to build off a difficult season last year, where the squad limped to a 5-25 record. One of those wins did come against the Crimson.
In the coming weeks, the Delaney-Smith and her squad will look to build upon the foundation so that by the time its Ivy League opponents come around, the team will be ready to battle for the title.
“We are working on running the floor the way we are capable of athletically, [and] minimizing defensive errors,” Crimson Coach Kathy Delaney-Smith said.
However, improvement for the offensive side of the game is paramount for the Crimson.
“At the top of the list is offensive execution which we actually did our best in the Toledo game. Hopefully we will keep heading in the right direction,” Delaney-Smith said.
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