Men’s Basketball beat writer Stephen Gleason picks three things to keep an eye on going into tomorrow’s Diamond Head Classic quarterfinal between Harvard and BYU (4:30 PM, ESPNU). Before a two-week break for finals, the Crimson (3-6) defeated Boston University, 75-69. The Cougars (7-3) have won three of their last four contests.
Senior guard Kyle Collinsworth is the focal point of the BYU offense and was an honorable mention All-American last season. The Cougars’ co-captain had 12 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds in BYU’s win last Friday against Central Michigan. The triple-double was the eighth of his career, the most in NCAA history. On the season, Collinsworth is averaging nearly 15 points a game to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Tuesday will not be the first time Harvard has squared off with an elite wing this season. The Crimson has already seen the likes of Providence senior Kris Dunn and Kansas junior Wayne Selden. Harvard coach Tommy Amaker will likely task senior forward Agunwa Okolie with covering Collinsworth. Despite giving up 32 points to Dunn, Okolie has held his matchups to outputs well below their season averages, with Selden only going for nine points and Boston College guard Eli Carter shooting 3-for-14 from the field.
While Collinsworth contributes to all facets of the Cougar offense, BYU may be the most balanced and deepest team the Crimson has faced this season. The Cougars have four players averaging double-digits in points and nine players logging at least 10 minutes a contest.
Harvard’s slow start to the season could be attributed to a lack of production on the offensive end. Through the team’s first six games, the Crimson was averaging just under 62 points per game, but in its last three, Harvard has topped that mark by nearly ten points a contest.
While the Crimson has lost two of its last three games, both contests were against teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season. The team has shot over 43 percent in all three of those games and has had a different leading scoring in each contest. Harvard posted its best ball control game of the season two weeks ago against BU, turning the ball over just 10 times.
In order for Harvard to compete with BYU, the Crimson will have to continue its recent offensive surge while also shutting down a potent and balanced BYU offense. The Cougars are averaging nearly 83 points a game and are outscoring their opponents by an average of 10.5 points. BYU has been held under 75 points just twice in 10 games.
The game will certainly be a clash of two styles. Harvard has not scored 83 points in a game this season, but the Crimson has conceded more than 75 points just twice this season. Harvard ranks 295th in the nation in possessions per game while the Cougars are 17th. Like the Crimson, BYU has struggled with turnovers, averaging more than 13 a contest.