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Alumni Update: Crimson Basketball Overseas

Published by Shuvom N. Sadhuka on October 28, 2018 at 1:09PM
Captain Chambers' Court

Senior co-captain Siyani Chambers finished his Harvard basketball career in the Ivy Tournament against Yale.

As the Harvard men’s basketball team prepares to open its 11th season under Coach Tommy Amaker, a few Crimson alums are making waves in the pros.

Wesley Saunders, Brandyn Curry, and Siyani Chambers, all of whom played under Amaker during Harvard’s 2014 March Madness run into the third round, are working towards replicating their success overseas.

After four years at Cambridge capped by an Ivy League Player of the Year Award as a senior in 2014, Wesley Saunders spent three seasons in the NBA D-League with affiliates of the New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, and Chicago Bulls. This past summer, the 6’6” shooting guard made his way to Italy, signing with Vanoli Cremona. Saunders has immediately become a star for the Italian side, leading the team in minutes (33.3) and steals per game (2.0) while also averaging 16.7 points and 6.3 assists per game.

Saunders’ teammate Brandyn Curry found immediate success upon graduation, signing with SPM Shoeters Den Bosch of the Dutch Basketball League in August of 2014. The 6’1” point guard led his team to a championship in his first season, being named the DBL Playoffs MVP. After making stops in Slovenia and Germany, Curry returned to the DBL with Donar Gronigen, securing the DBL Playoffs MVP once again and also winning the regular season MVP.

Former Ivy League Rookie of the Year Siyani Chambers, remembered at Harvard for helping the Crimson upset New Mexico in the second round of the NCAA tournament in his freshman year, has found a new home with the Gießen 46ers in Germany’s premier basketball league Basketball Bundesliga after spending last season in Austria with the Raiffeisen Flyers Wels. The former Crimson captain averaged 14.9 points, 5.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game in his first professional season in Austria, earning an all-star appearance in the Austrian Bundesliga A.

Harvard Basketball, ranked first in the Ivy League preseason poll, has plenty to look forward to this season both for itself and for its alums, many of whom are thriving overseas.

Athlete of the Week: Tyler Adams

Published by David Manikas on October 19, 2018 at 1:36AM
House of Adams

Tyler Adams had just seven career receiving yards prior to last Friday's game against Holy Cross, in which he accumulated 84.

The Harvard football team added another weapon to its receiving corps this past weekend with Tyler Adams’ impressive performance against Holy Cross, part of a game in which the Crimson emerged victorious with a last-second field goal. Adams, a sophomore wide receiver from Louisville, Ohio, saw very little in-game action prior to last weekend’s contest. Only having one career reception prior to facing the Crusaders (1-6, 0-2 Patriot) — a catch for seven yards against San Diego this year — Adams was looking for a chance to showcase his abilities. With the absence of senior wide receiver Justice Shelton-Mosley, he seized that opportunity.

Adams’ career night began in the second quarter when he caught a 31-yard pass from senior quarterback Tom Stewart. He would go on to finish the half with another catch for ten yards along with a 19-yard run.

However, Adams’s second half performance was what cemented the fate of the game. Harvard’s sole touchdown in the third quarter came from a 28-yard snag by Adams, driving the lead up to 16 going into the fourth.

Holy Cross’ massive comeback in the final quarter of the game put the Crimson (3-2, 1-1 Ivy) in its first deficit all night. Harvard, facing a fourth down in the final drive of the game, desperately needed someone to make a play. With the game on the line, Stewart decided to place his trust in Adams once again. And following the theme of the night, Adams made the catch, moving the chains and keeping the game alive.

But perhaps the biggest play of the game came after the fourth down conversion. Adams’ biggest catch of the night came a play later, as he snagged a 30-yard pass while facing double coverage, drawing a flag for pass interference in the process. The catch set the team in prime field goal position with seconds to go in the game. A play and a couple of timeouts later, junior kicker Jake McIntyre sealed the deal with a 25-yard field goal.

Adams finished the game with seven reception for 84 yards, a receiving touchdown, and 33 rushing yards. His performance on Friday was pivotal in the Crimson’s victory. With a win over the Crusaders, Harvard was able to put an end to its two-game losing streak. The Crimson is hosting Princeton this Saturday at noon, looking to start a winning streak of its own going into the second half of the season. After seizing his chance last week, Adams looks to play a bigger role among a talented group of receivers.

Athletes of the Week: Christina Cornelius and Grace Roberts Burbank

Published by Mahtab Shihab on October 08, 2018 at 10:06PM
Killing It

Captain Christina Cornelius logged double-digit kills for the seventh time this season in Saturday's tilt against Penn.

Captain Christina Cornelius and junior hitter Grace Roberts Burbank both had standout performances as Harvard women’s volleyball picked up a weekend sweep, defeating Princeton and Pennto remain undefeated at home. Cornelius had double-digit kills for the seventh time this season and led the team with 12 kills against a vaunted Tigers team that is consistently one of the top contenders in the Ivy League. The Los Angeles, Calif., native only tallied one error en route to a season-high attack percentage of .524. Burbank also had double-digit kills against Princeton after a phenomenal outing against the Quakers in which she had 13 kills.

After suffering three successive losses coming into this past weekend, the Crimson had a strong showing in its past two games, spearheaded by Cornelius and Burbank. A dominant victory against Penn on Friday winning in straight sets (25-19, 25-21, 25-19) had Harvard coming into its game against the Tigers on Saturday confident and motivated for a win. Princeton had yet to lose a conference game and had a strong record of 11-4. However, the underdog Crimson was not intimidated by Princeton’s attacking prowess, and exploited the visitors’ errors throughout the game. After a defensive start, Harvard won the first set and capitalized on Princeton’s errors. During the next two sets, clutch play and strong defense allowed the Crimson to pull away and win in straight sets (25-20, 25-19, 25-23). Harvard’s victory against the Tigers demonstrates that it has the capability to compete with the best in the league and is a promising indicator that the team can close out the season with a strong record.

The leadership and clutch play of Cornelius propelled the Crimson to its dominant performance this weekend. At the end of the game-clinching set against Princeton, Cornelius had three kills and was critical in winning the set and the match. She has had consistently strong games throughout the season and acts as a stabilizing force for the team. Burbank has also been integral to the team’s recent string of success. Without her in the beginning of the season, the team was 2-4, and since her return to the lineup, the team has been 5-3 with six double-digit kill performances from the junior. After a weekend that has changed the momentum of the season, the women’s volleyball team will be a force to reckon for the rest of the Ancient Eight if it keeps up this level of play.

Next week, Harvard will go on the road against Brown and Yale where it will look to build off its stellar games this past weekend.

Athlete of the Week: Jillian Wachira

Published by Connor Dowd on October 02, 2018 at 4:20PM
Ball Play

Freshmen defender Jillian Wachira makes a move against a Yale player in Saturday night’s 1-0 victory.

{image id=1332499 size=full caption=true align=center}Jillian Wachira’s first career goal could hardly have come at a better time. In a tense, low-scoring game against a strong Yale team, her 29th minute game-winning strike was just enough to ensure victory for Harvard women’s soccer.

The Crimson (4-4-1, 1-0-1 Ivy League) started its three game homestand in style by handing Yale (5-4-1, 0-2-0 Ivy League) its second consecutive loss and bringing their overall record up to .500. Both teams came to Jordan Field determined to come away with a win, and both teams looked capable of emerging victorious throughout the full ninety minutes. Ultimately, however, the combination of Harvard’s stout defending and Wachira’s moment of individual offensive brilliance proved too much for the Bulldogs to handle.

Each team started the game aggressively and forced both keepers to make impressive saves in order to keep the game scoreless. A diving save from Yale’s keeper to deny Murphy Agnew in the 18th minute kept the Crimson off the scoreboard. Finally, 28 minutes into the first half, Jillian Wachira broke the deadlock with a stunning strike from the edge of the 18 yard box.

The freshman defender Wachira made an overlapping run down the left flank, picked up the ball in the midfield from classmate Lara Schenk, and beat two Bulldog defenders before finessing a shot past Yale’s keeper into the top corner at the far post. This goal, the first of her career, would prove the only difference between the two closely matched sides.

Wachira’s contributions were not limited to the attacking end of the pitch, either. Having appeared in all nine games that the Crimson has played so far this season, the Plainsboro, New Jersey native has already become a fixture of one of the Ivy League’s best defensive units. Harvard’s back line never allowed Yale’s attackers to get comfortable, and with significant contributions from senior keeper Danielle Etzel, it came away with its third consecutive clean sheet this season (their fifth overall).

As women’s soccer prepares for the latter half of its season, which includes games against a number of Ivy League rivals, the team will look to Jillian Wachira and its other promising freshmen to maintain their high level of play. If Harvard continues to defend as effectively as it has in recent games, the Crimson will become a nightmare matchup for opposing attackers; if players keep scoring goals like the one Wachira scored on Saturday night, opposing defenses won’t fare much better.

Harvard will look to keep up their winning ways against lowly Cornell (1-7-1, 0-2-0 Ivy League) on Saturday, October 6 at Jordan Field.

Alumni Update: Jimmy Vesey

Published by Jackson Delgado on October 02, 2018 at 5:02PM
Cap

Jimmy Vesey '16 (left) won the Hobey Baker Award during his senior campaign at Harvard.

After helping bring the Harvard men’s hockey program back under the national spotlight, Jimmy Vesey ’16 has cemented himself as a nightly regular in the New York Rangers lineup.

This past season — his second full campaign in the National Hockey League — Vesey played in 79 of 82 games and logged 17 goals, good for fifth-most on the team. He added 11 helpers that season. As a rookie, the 2015-2016 Hobey Baker Award winner skated in 80 contests, in which he tallied 27 points and even got his first taste of playoff hockey by helping the Rangers advance to the second round.

As he prepares for the fast-approaching NHL season, Vesey will look to ascend the forward ranks on a Rangers team that found itself playing the role of seller at the trade deadline last season. With fewer stars clogging up the top spots, Vesey will be in the mix for a more prominent role on a comparatively younger roster.

Vesey comes from a hockey family. His father, Jim, played hockey at Merrimack College and played 15 games in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins. Jim currently works as a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Additionally, Jimmy’s younger brother, Nolan, signed with the Edmonton Oilers this summer.

Vesey’s contributions to the Harvard program cannot be overstated. His promise was evident early on: Vesey received Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors after his freshman campaign, a foreshadowing of his eventual domination of the ECAC. To cap his final two collegiate seasons, Vesey pocketed back-to-back conference Player of the Year awards.

Most notably, Vesey took home college hockey’s most prestigious accolade, the Hobey Baker Award, after foregoing the opportunity to depart the NCAA for the NHL a year before graduation. The North Reading, Mass., native was just the fourth Harvard skater to achieve such a feat.

During his four years in Cambridge, Vesey racked up 144 points (80–64—144), good for 12th in program history and tied exactly with Crimson coach Ted Donato ’91. The former Harvard standout sits fifth all-time in career goals for the school.

Vesey was selected in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators. Ultimately, he avoided any obligations to the Nashville franchise — or to the Buffalo Sabres, who traded for his rights in the summer of 2016 — waiting to sign with a team after four full college seasons. With more leverage in negotiations as an unrestricted free agent, Vesey chose the Rangers in August after graduation.

As a member of Manhattan’s storied hockey club, Vesey has continued to perform at a high level. He was awarded the Lars-Erik Sjöberg award, which is given to the best rookie in training camp, in 2016. His other NHL feats include nabbing a hat trick on March 12 of this past season and scoring two goals in just 29 seconds in a November contest, marking the fastest two goals scored by a Ranger in over a decade.

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