Harvard Basketball Runs this Town? You Decide
Pictured: Christian Webster gets congratulations while running past his bench after connecting on a big 3-pointer late in the Crimson's win at Boston College last week. (Associated Press)
The mood in Harvard's locker room was happy yet subdued after the Crimson knocked off Boston College for the second straight season at Conte Forum last week. The Crimson, winners by a 74-67 margin, had done what it came to do. There was still work to be done however, with many games to be played.
Still, music was playing and by chance, Jay-Z's "Run This Town'' came onto the stereo thanks to the shuffle feature. It was a timely and appropriate song to cap Harvard's local nonleague games for the 2009 calendar year with a 3-0 record against Boston-area teams - two over BC and one over America East favorite Boston University. Extending its slate further west, Harvard boasts a 4-0 mark in 2009 against Massachusetts rivals - with all the games being played on the road. Harvard runs this town? The numbers indicate yes.
Harvard's rise to Boston basketball notoriety came November 13 as the Crimson, behind third-year head coach Tommy Amaker, went into a hostile environment and came away with a victory as a young but poised team held off Holy Cross, 87-77.
Harvard played 11 players and they all scored but Jeremy Lin and Dee Giger took over in the second half to lead a Crimson attack that saw five players reach double figures. Giger connected on a trio of crippling long balls and Lin scored 21 of his game-high 24 points after the break while adding seven assists. Giger was 4-of-6 form distance in a 13-point showing. Keith Wright added 11 points and Kyle Casey had 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks in his debut. Oliver McNally added 11 points on 6-for-6 shooting from the free throw line.
More importantly, Harvard showed depth and talent with the Crimson using 11 players in the first six minutes of play. Less than three minutes into the game, three first-year players were on the court and the Crimson had a five-man team of first-year ballers six minutes into the game.
Five games later, Harvard rolled into Boston University and came away with a 78-70 victory after ending the game on an 18-6 run to win at BU for the first time since 1975.
Harvard was just 4-for-18 from long range (.222) before a key triple from Lin came as part of a 12-point personal run for the senior in a span of four minutes. He capped his night with an emphatic slam en route to scoring 16 of his game-high 19 points in the second half.
McNally scored the last six points with four at the line and a two-handed slam in a 13-point evening for the sophomore. Wright finished with 11 points (5-9 FG) and three blocks.
Then just days after taking nationally-ranked UConn to the brink, Harvard could hardly plan on sneaking up on a Boston College team that had been overwhelmed by the Crimson on its home floor a year ago. BC, which had dominated previously-unbeaten Miami three days prior, again had no answer for Harvard however as the Crimson shot better than 57 percent while holding BC under 30 percent in the final 20 minutes.
Lin put on another show against the Eagles, scoring 16 second-half points in a 5-point showing (10-12 FT) while Wright logged a career-high 21 points and Brandyn Curry came in for an injured McNally and paced Harvard's stingy defense in the second half.
After the BC win, ESPN proclaimed that Harvard runs this town. Maybe so although Crimson players contend to a person that there is work to be done; 19 games to go - 19 games to prove itself on a larger scale. But for right now, Harvard has taken on all challengers from the Bay State and defeated them all. Turn up music, turn on the shuffle.