#42 Harvard Men's Basketball Preview

Harvard Crimson

Overall Rank: #42
Conference Rank: #1 Ivy League
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2010-11: 23-7, 12-2
2010-11 postseason: NIT
Coach: Tommy Amaker (66-51 at Harvard, 243-189 overall)

Coach Tommy Amaker has done a great job at Harvard, leading the Crimson to two postseason appearances in his four seasons with the school. Harvard tied Princeton for the Ivy League title, but fell to the Tigers in the play-off with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line. Harvard will have to wait until this March for another shot at the big dance. With nearly everybody returning, this Harvard team is deep and very experienced. They will be ready for all the big games and this group will not let the NCAA Tournament slip away again in 2012. Point guard Brandyn Curry will not garner too much national attention since he is not much of a scorer, but he is a superb point guard who makes this team go on both ends of the floor. The 6-1 junior should be even better now that he is an upperclassman and can become a true leader of this squad. Curry will not need to score much again this season; he just needs to keep dishing out some assists like he did 5.9 times per game last season.

Who’s Out:
Ernest Rouse is the lone player who saw any action last season and is not returning for the 2011-2012 campaign. And Rouse only played in 16 games and averaged a mere 2.9 minutes per contest. Coach Amaker only went six deep last season. Six players averaged over 25 minutes per game. The seventh most minutes per game was just 9.4. Having everybody back should provide this team with more depth and that may be very, very important down the stretch.

Who’s In:
The returning players are not the only folks who can provide depth. Once again, Coach Amaker has a nice group of newcomers heading into Cambridge, Massachusetts. The best of the bunch, and the most likely to earn quality minutes right away, is Wesley Saunders. The 6-5 wing is a superb scorer who can finish above the rim. He will also use his athleticism to help out on the glass and Harvard could use a rebounder on the wing at times. Corbin Miller and Alex Nesbitt will battle for minutes in the backcourt, but will likely find it difficult to see any significant action this year. The same is true for wing Max Hooper. The newcomers in the frontcourt could be asked to fill a few minutes off of the bench. Small forward Jonah Travis can earn some minutes right away, but he is not a big body. Kenyatta Smith and Steve Moundou-Missi are, but they might need a little more time to adjust to the style of play.

Who to Watch:
The backcourt has a few more weapons beside Curry. Christian Webster and Oliver McNally are back to claim their spot in the starting lineup. Webster is a solid shooter who connected on 39.3 percent of his attempts from long range last season. Webster is also 6-5 and can use his size to attack the basket against most opposing defenders. McNally does not have as much size, but he can sneak around the paint and get some easy buckets too. However, McNally is mostly a shooter and he is one of the best shooters around. McNally connected on 44.2 percent of his attempts from long range and 92.6 percent of his free-throws. McNally is also a great secondary ball handler who can run the point when Curry needs a break or help out when they are on the floor together. Laurent Rivard was third on the team in scoring during his freshman campaign, but only started one contest. Rivard will likely come in off the bench again this season, but he is a dynamic scorer who can score from anywhere and he will always provide a nice spark.

Final Projection:
Keith Wright is the star of the frontcourt, and the team. He led the squad with 14.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest last season. Wright, a 6-8, 240 pound senior, stays in the paint and when the offense runs through him, he will either score or somebody on the perimeter will end up with an open look when the opposing defense collapses in on Wright. Kyle Casey is a superb secondary option to Wright. Casey averaged 10.7 points and 6.0 rebounds as a sophomore and can stretch out the defense with his mid-range jumper. The newcomers, along with 6-10 senior Andrew Van Nest, will provide some depth to the frontcourt, but Wright is a big man who can stay on the floor and out of foul trouble. He averaged over 32 minutes per game last season, so any new or improved depth in the frontcourt would just be an added bonus. This group does not need any new players to make a huge impact in order to dominate the Ivy League and reach the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Brandyn Curry, Junior, Guard, 9.3 points per game
Oliver McNally, Senior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Christian Webster, Junior, Guard, 13.0 points per game
Kyle Casey, Junior, Forward, 10.7 points per game
Keith Wright, Senior, Forward, 14.8 points per game

Madness 2011 Men's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#96 Wesley Saunders

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