College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, January 31, 2014
The Ivy League doesn't get much of the college hoops love, mostly because the conference seldom sends more than one team to the NCAA tourney, and, while this season appears to be consistent with that theme, the one team - Harvard - may be a dangerous one.
Friday night, the Crimson upped their record to 16-3 and 3-0 in the Ivy with an 82-76 victory over their chief rival, the Princeton Tigers.
Leading all scorers was Princeton's T.J. Bray, but his effort was not enough as Harvard's scintillating swingman, 6'5" junior, Wesley Saunders, scored 24 points, to go with nine boards, seven assists, three steals and a blocked shot.
Saunders, who leads the Crimson in scoring at 15.5 points per game, was 9-for-13 from the field and 6-for-7 from the charity stripe in 38 minutes of action.
Harvard took a 36-35 lead into intermission, but were tied by the Tigers at 42-all on a Bray three-pointer, three minutes into the second half. Over the next two minutes, Harvard went on a decisive 8-0 run, and led the rest of the way, eventually pushing their advantage to as many as 13 points. Another Bray three-pointer got Princeton to within four with under a minute to go, but Harvard made seven of eight at the line - Saunders going 4-for-4 - to ice the game.
Harvard has a one-game lead over Columbia, Brown and Yale, all at 2-1, and hosts Penn Saturday night, seeking a 4-0 mark. The three losses by the Crimson have been to UConn, Colorado and Florida Atlantic, but they have some quality wins, including blowouts of TCU and Boston College.
Tommy Amaker, former Duke player and assistant coach, has been head coach of the Crimson since the 08-09 season and the team has responded with improved performances during his tenure. Last season, Amaker guided Harvard into the NCAA tourney, and produced the school's first-ever win at the big dance, defeating New Mexico, 68-62, before falling to Arizona, 74-51.