March Madness comes Early!

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By JP Vieira

 

Coming off an incredible year, in which Harvard Men’s Basketball won their sixth Ivy League championship in program history, expectations were high for the upcoming season. Last Tuesday, November 2nd, college basketball started off the new season around the country. For Harvard’s first match-up, they hosted their Cambridge neighbors: MIT. By no means was this meant to be an easy game,  as Harvard had a lot to prove coming off of an astounding 2017-2018 season. Harvard played well in the first half, as did MIT…the score at the end of the first half was 40-39 in favor of Harvard. However, in the second half, Harvard played with noticeably more grit, outscoring MIT 38-27, leading to a final score of 78-66 in favor of Harvard. Chris Lewis, now a junior, led the way with 20 points on an incredible 9 for 11 shooting performance, but was also a key factor defensively as he notched a team-high 3 blocks. Although Harvard won comfortably, one noticeable problem was their turnovers, as they notched 18 turnovers. This needs to be something they fix moving forward as they face more competitive teams. Furthermore, a key factor in the game were Harvard’s bench points and field goal percentage. Overall, they shot 30/55 from the field, leading to a field goal percentage of 54.5%. The bench produced an incredible 35 points compared to the Engineer’s 4 points respectively. Most notably, freshman Noah Kirkwood, from Ottawa, Ontario, scored 13 points on his debut. With this great season-opener now under their belts, Harvard looked to use their home-court advantage as they faced the Northeastern Huskies.

On Friday, November 9th, Harvard squared off against Northeastern, who historically have given Harvard a tough time. This game wasn’t an absolutely vital one, but it could very well set the pace for the type of basketball we’d be seeing from Harvard all year long. The Crimson got off to a great start, leading the Huskies 21-11 in the first half. However, the Huskies managed to heat up too, and they went into the half deadlocked at 33. The second half was an overall entertaining half, as Harvard and Northeastern went back and forth for most of it. However, down the line, the Huskies managed to pull away hitting clutch free throws. Northeastern went on to win the game 81-71, bringing Harvard to 1-1 on the season. Once again, Chris Lewis led the way for the offense with 17 points, bringing his average to 18.5 points this season. A key difference between this game for the Crimson compared to their game against MIT was  the number of bench points. Harvard’s bench was outscored 38-9 by the Huskies’ bench. The chances of winning with your bench getting outscored by almost 30 points are slim-to-none. Moving forward, they’ll be looking to have their bench produce more for them. Another important statistic is Harvard’s field goal percentage. They shot 26-51 (51%) from the field, which is their second game in a row shooting above 50%. Lastly, Harvard’s turnovers are down compared to their 18 against the Engineers. However, they still turned the ball over 14 times, and as the season progresses, they will definitely be looking to have more ball security, especially if they plan to win the Ivy League championship for the seventh time in program history.

Overall, Harvard Men’s basketball team have had a good start to the season; they have a team of promising athletes who never give up, a quality that can’t be taught. Looking ahead in the season, Harvard will be playing away against the UMass Minutemen on Tuesday, November 13th, and away against URI on Friday, November 16th. Harvard will look to clean-up on mistakes made against the Huskies, so look forward to great games this week from the Crimson.

 

JP Vieira ([email protected]) is excited to watch the Crimson continue another hard-fought season of college hoops.