2012-2013 Overall Rank: #57
Conference Rank: #1 Ivy League
Harvard Team Page
Harvard was all ready to make another trip to the NCAA Tournament, but an academic cheating scandal may make things a little more interesting in the Ivy League. Forward Kyle Casey will not play basketball this season as a result of the scandal. The 6-7 senior led the Crimson with 11.4 points per contest and added 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. Fellow starter Brandyn Curry was also named in the scandal, but has yet to decide his next move. Curry, the team’s starting point guard, could return this year once the school goes through the research process. That may take some time and Curry would then lose out on most, if not all, of his senior season. If he follows Casey’s footsteps, they could return next season. Either way, for now, the Crimson will likely be without Casey and Curry for the entire 2012-2013 campaign.
2011-12 Record: 26-5, 12-2
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tommy Amaker
Coach Record: 92-56 at Harvard, 269-194 overall
Harvard already lost some key pieces to last year’s NCAA Tournament squad due to graduation, most notably Keith Wright. Wright led the squad with 8.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game and added 10.6 points. With Casey gone as well, the frontcourt is suddenly quite inexperienced. Fellow starter Oliver McNally is also gone. He was not a great scorer, but he was a fine secondary ballhandler to Curry and a smart, solid all-around player. Corbin Miller is the only other loss and he averaged fewer than a dozen minutes per contest.
Coach Tommy Amaker has brought in some fine recruiting classes over the years, but this group is a lot of what could have been. Harvard, again, was on the cusp of a superb group of newcomers, but for one reason or another, it did not pan out the way many had hoped. The result is another solid class, but not a great class. Point guard Siyani Chambers will likely feel the brunt of the expectations with Curry likely out for the year. Chambers could have used a year to learn under Curry, but he will be thrown right into the mix as a freshman. Power forward Evan Cummins and center Michael Hall are both quality post players and they will have to provide much of the depth in the frontcourt. Camden McRae should eventually emerge as a quality shooting guard and Agunwa Okolie and Patrick Steeves will provide some great size on the wing.
Who to Watch:
This team still has some stars even though four starters are gone. Laurent Rivard is the only one back, but he is ready to turn into a leader on the floor. The 6-5 junior is mostly a shooter, but he is a very good shooter. After averaging 10.1 points per game last season, Coach Amaker will have to rely on Rivard to take over a bulk of the scoring load. However, Rivard needs to be more than just a shooter and start using his 6-5 frame to attack the basket more often. Christian Webster had a bit of a down year in 2011-2012, but the senior has plenty of experience and is a proven scorer. With Rivard shooting up three's, Harvard will need Webster to help out on the glass. Wesley Saunders’ freshman campaign was full of promise and now that promise needs to turn into production. He had a nice overseas trip this summer with the Crimson and should be ready to see major minutes this year. The problem is Saunders, like Rivard and Webster, is a 6-5 wing. Saunders would be the candidate to spend time at the four spot, but he is obviously an undersized power forward. That lineup could work in the Ivy League, but there will certainly be times when Coach Amaker has to play bigger. In those cases, he may call on 6-6 forward Jonah Travis. Travis was part of the regular rotation last season, but rarely played too many minutes. Yet, when he was on the floor he proved to be a capable rebounder, a decent interior scorer and fine a shot blocker. Steve Moundou-Missi would likely be starting in Wright’s place this year anyway, but now he is the post presence for this team until the newcomers come around. The 6-7 sophomore will have to provide a consistent interior scoring threat and lead the way on the glass. Even though this is an undersized frontcourt, Harvard does sport a trio of quality 6-5 guards and wings. Those players will be able to help out on the glass. No one player may rebound as well as Wright or Casey, but a group effort should result in a surprisingly low drop-off in production in the rebounding department.
Princeton was right on Harvard’s heels last year and was expected to be again this year. Without Curry and Casey, the Ivy League will likely be a two horse race. Harvard will struggle to replace two of their stars this close to the beginning of the season, as any team would, so do not be surprised to see the Crimson come out of the gate very slowly. But by the time conference play begins, Coach Amaker could have his younger players, including a whole slew of players who barely saw any playing time last season, ready to make a serious run at an Ivy League title and a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. It is defense that wins championships and even some of the less heralded players on Harvard can play solid defense. As long as Chambers can run the show and Rivard keeps knocking down three-pointers, this is a team that can win plenty of games with their defense.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Siyani Chambers, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Laurent Rivard, Junior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Christian Webster, Senior, Guard, 4.5 points per game
Wesley Saunders, Sophomore, Guard, 3.3 points per game
Steve Moundou-Missi, Sophomore, Forward, 4.9 points per game
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#145 Michael Hall