Obscenities rained down from Yale’s student section when Harvard visited on Feb. 7. Almost all of them were directed at one Harvard men’s basketball player: co-captain Steve Moundou-Missi. The forward had just eight points and eight rebounds in the game, but it was what he did on the other end of the floor that drew the fans’ frustration.
In a crucial 52-50 win, Moundou-Missi held Bulldog forward Justin Sears to just nine points and his lowest shooting percentage of the Ivy season. The victory in what was a must-win game came in large part due to Moundou-Missi’s defensive effort.
Today, Sears was named Ivy League Player of the Year, Yale’s second-ever winner and first since 1988, making Moundou-Missi’s achievement that night even more impressive.
And Moundou-Missi, partly because of that effort in February, was named the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Year in the same Wednesday announcement.
The Cameroon native anchored a Crimson defense that ranked first in the conference with 57.5 points allowed per game.
“I like to think we’ve been the best defensive team and the big reason for being the best defensive team is we have the best defensive player, and that’s a wonderful thing,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said.
Moundou-Missi finished the season with a career-high 43 blocks, good for fifth in the league. With 128 career blocks, Moundou-Missi ranks third in Harvard history. He also finished fourth in defensive rebounding this year. Moundou-Missi was honored Saturday during senior night and was introduced by the public address announcer as one of the league’s best rim protectors.
“We all applaud him for a great job this year that he did on the defensive end. He’s been a great backline defender,” junior co-captain Siyani Chambers said.
Moundou-Missi managed to remain consistent on defense despite an up-and-down year offensively. He shot just 26 percent in December before recovering to shoot 52 percent during the conference slate. In the rematch against Yale at Lavietes Pavilion last Friday, Moundou-Missi put up a season-high 21 points to go with 11 rebounds. He now sits just seven points shy of 1,000 for his career.
He was named second-team All-Ivy along with Chambers. Senior wing Wesley Saunders, last year’s Player of the Year, was named to the conference’s first team for the third straight year. The Crimson was the only team with three honored players.
Yale coach James Jones won the inaugural Coach of the Year award for getting the Bulldogs their first championship in a decade. Dartmouth’s Miles Wright took home Rookie of the Year honors.
Joining Saunders and Sears on the first team are Yale’s Javier Duren, Cornell’s Shonn Miller, and Columbia’s Maodo Lo.
—Staff writer Jacob D.H. Feldman can be reached at email@example.com.
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