Men’s Basketball Faces Rival Yale in Inaugural Ivy League Tournament

Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
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Last Meeting
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Harvard vs. Yale
Saturday, March 11
4 p.m.
The Palestra
Dalen Cuff, Mike Couzens
Live Stats
Harvard (18-9, 10-4 Ivy)
Yale (17-10, 9-5 Ivy)
Yale leads, 117-78
W, 77-64 (Feb. 24, 2017)
Harvard vs. Yale

The Storyline
Participating in the inaugural Ivy League tournament, Harvard men's basketball faces rival Yale in the first round Saturday, March 11 at 4:01 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Dalen Cuff and Mike Couzens on the call. Although this is the first-ever postseason tournament for the Ancient Eight, this is not the first time Harvard and Yale have faced off in a playoff game, as the Crimson defeated Yale, 53-51, for a NCAA tournament bid in 2015.

What to Watch For
• This is the third playoff game the Crimson has appeared in, dropping a 63-62 decision to Princeton in 2011 and defeating Yale, 53-51, in 2015.

• For the seventh time over the last eight years, the Crimson reached the 10-win mark in Ivy League play. Under Tommy Amaker, the Crimson has reached the postseason in every year it has won 10-plus Ancient Eight games.

• For the first time since 1987-88, a freshman leads the Crimson in scoring, as Bryce Aiken posts 14.0 points per game. That year, Ralph James was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year after posting 14.5 points per game.

• The all-time winningest head coach in Harvard men's basketball history, Tommy Amaker returns to the Harvard sidelines for the 10th season. The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball has directed the Crimson to a period of unprecedented prosperity in the form of four NCAA tournament appearances (2012-15), five Ivy League championships (2011-15) and six 20-win seasons (2010-15). Amaker owns a 369-243 career record: 193-104 at Harvard, 108-84 at Michigan and 68-55 at Seton Hall.

• Harvard contains a mix of youth and experience for the 2016-17 season. Thirteen (13) of the 20-man roster are freshmen or sophomores. Six of the top nine leading scorers are rookies, as Bryce Aiken and Seth Towns rank 1-2 with 14.0 and 12.4 points per game, respectively. According to KenPom rankings, the Crimson is the 10th youngest team in the NCAA.

• The Crimson looks to return to the top of the Ivy League standings after five conference titles over the last six years.

• Rookies pace the squad in scoring (Bryce Aiken, 14.0), field goal percentage (Chris Lewis, 64.8) and free throw percentage (Aiken, 88.3).

• Harvard holds an 11-1 record when holding an advantage going into the locker room.   

Last Time Out
The Crimson dropped two heart-breaking losses at Princeton and Penn over the weekend, falling to the Tigers, 73-69, and the Quakers, 75-72. Friday, Princeton's Amir Bell hit a lefty hook with 1.1 seconds remaining to secure the win for the Tigers. Saturday, a 3-pointer by Penn's Jackson Donahue with six seconds to play proved to be the difference. Seth Towns posted a career high 26 points against the Tigers, while Bryce Aiken posted 17 points Saturday night.

Heart Breakers
The Crimson dropped four Ivy League games, but fell by a total of 11 points. The game-winning or game-clinching shot came with six seconds or less in three games and with 1:34 to play at Columbia.

Scouting Yale
The Bulldogs finished in third place in the Ivy League standings, posting a 17-10 overall record and 9-5 mark in Ancient Eight play. Yale has won its last three games after losing the previous four. The 2016 Ivy League champions, Yale ranks as the No. 2 scoring offense in the league, posting 74.8 points per game.

The Bulldogs maintain a balanced scoring attack, as three players average in double-figures: Miye Oni (13.0 ppg), Alex Copeland (12.9 ppg) and Sam Downey (11.7 ppg). Blake Reynolds and Anthony Dallier add 9.9 and 9.5 points per game, respectively. Leading the team on the boards is Downey wit 6.8 per game, second in the Ivy League.

Yale leads the all-time series 117-78, but the Crimson swept the series in 2017.

Head coach James Jones earned Ivy League Coach of the Year in 2015 and 2016, owns 150 Ivy League wins. The longest tenured coach in the Ivy League, Jones has posted a .592 winning percentage over his time, the best in school history.

Creating a Winning Culture
Harvard has posted a 171-68 (.715) overall record since the start of the 2009-10 season, ranking as the 19th-highest win percentage in the country over the last six-plus seasons (as of games played March 6).

Harvard has posted an 92-16 (.851) record at Lavietes Pavilion since the start of the 2009-10 season, representing the 18th highest home-court win percentage in the country over the last six-plus seasons (as of games played March 6).

Getting Defensive
The Crimson ranks first in field goal percentage defense (40.9), first in blocked shots (4.7) and second in scoring defense (65.5) in the Ivy League. Harvard has held nine opponents to under 40.0 percent shooting and nine to under 60 points (8-1).

Under Tommy Amaker, Harvard has held six opponents to fewer than 40 points and eight opponents to less than 30.0 percent shooting.

Moving on Up
In the all-time record book, senior co-captain Siyani Chambers ranks second all-time in assists (600), sixth in steals (162) and No. 12 in points (1,283).

Dropping Dimes

Senior co-captain Siyani Chambers leads the Ivy League with 5.9 helpers per game in 2016-17. Chambers ranks 18th in the country in helpers per game and No. 15 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.96).  

From Way Down Town
This season, Harvard has connected on five-plus 3-pointers 24 times and made at least 10 treys seven times. The Crimson averages 7.9 triples per game. Sophomore Corey Johnson ranks third in the league with 2.5 triples per game.

Harvard set a new program record for the second-straight year with 220 3-pointers 2016-17.

On the Glass
Through 27 games, the Crimson ranks second in the Ivy League in rebounding margin (+1.7).

Protecting The Rim
Harvard has registered 4.7 blocked shots per game this year, best in the Ancient Eight. Chris Lewis and Zena Edosomwan rank 3-4 in the conference with 1.7 and 1.2 blocks per game, respectively.

Offensive Awakening
The Crimson finished first in the Ivy League in conference-only play with 74.4 points per game.

Nonconference Watch
Harvard has gone 99-58 in non-conference play under head coach Tommy Amaker, including nine-straight seasons with a .500 record or better in out-of-conference action. Harvard finished 8-5 in 2016-17.

Harvard owns a 15-23 record against power conference opponents under Tommy Amaker. The Crimson defeated Boston College in six straight seasons from 2009-2014, again this season, and has also topped Auburn, California, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida State, Michigan, TCU and Utah.

Kings of Massachusetts Courts
Harvard is 32-14 overall against its in-state rivals under head coach Tommy Amaker, and owns a 25-7 record against Boston area schools with Amaker at the helm. Harvard played four Division I schools from Massachusetts, and six overall, this year (4-2).

Detur Book Prize
Chris Egi was announced as a recipient of the Detur Book Prize, the oldest prize awarded by Harvard College, a year ago. The Detur Book Prize recognizes sophomores who attained very high academic standing in their first year at the College.

In The Spotlight
The Crimson has played on TV 95 times since 2010-11. Harvard is slated to 13 games on national or regional television in 2016-17.

Sold Out
The Crimson has played in front of a sold-out Lavietes Pavilion crowd four times this season. Since 2010-11, the Crimson has played in front of a full house a total of 40 times.

On The Sidelines
Head coach Tommy Amaker's 193 wins are the most at Harvard and the sixth-most in the Ivy League since the conference began competition in 1956. His 94 Ivy League victories, meanwhile, sit sixth in conference history.

Amaker has led Harvard to five Ivy League championships, tying him with former Penn coach Bob Weinhauer (1977-82) for the third-most titles in Ancient Eight history. 

Harvard Coach              Harvard Wins

1. Tommy Amaker, 2007-present.. 193

2. Frank Sullivan, 1991-2007........... 178

3. Floyd S. Wilson, 1954-68............. 143

4. Edward A. Wachter, 1920-33.... 120

5. Frank McLaughlin, 1977-85........... 99

Ivy Coach                        Overall Wins

1. Pete Carril, Princeton 1967-96. 514

4. Joe Vancisin, Yale 1956-75........ 206

5. Jack Rohan, Columbia 1961-74, 1990-95          198

6. Tommy Amaker, 2007-present.. 193

7. Frank Sullivan, 1991-2007........... 178


Ivy Coach                              Ivy Wins

1. Pete Carril, Princeton 1967-96. 310

5.                Jack Rohan, Columbia 1961-74 & 1990-95


   Tommy Amaker, Harvard 2007-present 94

6. Frank Sullivan, Harvard 1991-2007 92

Going Pro
Harvard has been well represented in the professional ranks this season as six former Crimson continue their playing careers.

Student-Athlete       Professional Team

Kyle Casey '13-14...........................................

Helios Suns Domzale (Slovenia) - 2015-present

Brandyn Curry '13-14....................................

Helios Suns (Slovenia) – 2016-present

Evan Harris '09................................................

Saitama Broncos (Japan) - 2015-present

Jeremy Lin '10..................................................

..... Brooklyn Nets (NBA) - 2016-present

Wesley Saunders '15

Windy City Bulls (NBA DLeague) - 2016-present

Keith Wright '12..............................................

Weschester Knicks (NBA DLeague) - 2016-present

FIBA U19 World Championships
Chris Egi, Corey Johnson and Weisner Perez represented their respective countries at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships in Greece.

Egi, who was appointed as a captain by his coaching staff, paired with Johnson to lift Team Canada to a fifth-place finish, the country's highest finish at the competition. Perez, meanwhile, helped the Dominican Republic finish 13th in its first appearance since 1983.

Beating The Odds
The Crimson is 4-11 against ranked opponents since 2008-09, marking the only four wins over ranked opponents in program history.

Date       Opponent                  Score

1/7/09. at No. 17 Boston College W, 82-70

11/25/11... vs. No. 20 Florida State        W, 46-41

3/23/13....... vs. No. 10 New Mexico        W, 68-62

3/20/14............. vs. No. 15 Cincinnati        W, 61-57

Margin of Victory
Under head coach Tommy Amaker, the Crimson has won 48 games by 20 or more points, 12 games by 30 or more points, and three games by 40 or more.

Comeback Kids
Harvard has overcome double-digit deficits three times this season, at Cornell (a 12-point hole), against Penn (a 15-point hole) and at Brown (a 10-point deficit). Last year, the Crimson overcame a 21-point deficit with 9:02 remaining at Cornell on Feb. 20, 2016, marking the second-largest comeback by the Crimson under head coach Tommy Amaker.  

Nail Biters
This year, Harvard is 1-4 in games decided by three points or less and is 21-25 all-time in games decided by three points or less under head coach Tommy Amaker.

Extra Sessions
Under head coach Tommy Amaker, Harvard is 13-4 when going to overtime. This includes a 4-1 mark in double-overtime contests and a 1-0 record when needing three overtimes.

Chasing History
• Harvard won at least 20 games in six straight seasons from 2009-15, matching Penn (1969-75) for the longest streak of 20-win seasons in Ivy League history.

• The Crimson won five straight Ivy League championships from 2010-15, becoming just the second program in Ancient Eight history to win at least five successive titles (Penn 1970-75, 1978-82).

• The Crimson made four-straight NCAA tournament appearances from 2011-15, joining Princeton (1989-92) and Penn (1970-75) as just the third program in Ivy League history to represent the conference in the Big Dance in four successive years.

The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball
At halftime of the team's game versus Princeton on Feb. 21, 2015, Harvard Athletics announced the endowment of the department's   coaching position: The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball.

Made possible through the generosity of Thomas G. Stemberg '71, MBA'73, a long-standing Friend of Harvard Basketball and supporter of Harvard Athletics, this endowment serves as a commitment to the continued success of the men's basketball program. Stemberg's affiliation with Harvard spanned nearly 50 years, and he served as an honorary co-chair for the Friends of Harvard Basketball.

Linsanity: Harvard In The NBA
Jeremy Lin burst onto the national scene in February of 2012 after scoring 136 points in his first five NBA starts for the New York Knicks, the most for an NBA player since the merger with the ABA in 1976-77, and lifting the club into playoff position. Lin was rewarded for his spectacular play by appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated in back-to-back weeks, winning the ESPY for "Best Breakthrough Athlete," and being named one of Time Magazine's "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World" for 2012.

Lin is in his seventh NBA season, first with the Brooklyn Nets, after averaging 11.8 ppg, 4.4 apg and 2.8 rpg through his first six years.