Game #9-050: Manhattan at Harvard CrimsonNovember 16, 2012 7:30 pm
In the middle of the second half on Friday night, Harvard's freshman point guard Siyani Chambers did something he had not done for the last 76 minutes of the Crimson's game time: he sat down.
Chambers deserved the rest. The diminutive guard had orchestrated Harvard's evisceration of the visiting Manhattan Jaspers, and left the game with a 37-point lead. Ninety seconds later, however, Chambers was back in the game. As he the only point guard on Harvard's roster, any respite he receives will likely be temporary.
A mere eight months ago, the Crimson ended their season on a program high. They had reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1946, and returned senior Co-Captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry. For this season, coach Tommy Amaker put together a challenging non-conference schedule that includes trips to St. Joe's, Memphis, California, St. Mary's, and Connecticut. Harvard was the clear summer favorite in the Ivy League and had scheduled up accordingly.
Of course, life conspires to make fools of prognosticators, and the Crimson took to the floor this season without either Casey or Curry. Both were forced to withdraw from school for a year as they were caught up in a wide-ranging cheating scandal in a government course. The loss of Casey garnered more headlines--he was the All-Ivy performer, after all--but those around the program felt the loss of Curry much more keenly. Curry had become the consummate lead guard, an impressive offensive facilitator who had mastered Amaker's motion sets, and a strong perimeter defender. With the departure of Oliver McNally to graduation and Corbin Miller to a Mormon mission, Curry was to have been the only point guard with any experience on the roster.
A team without a lead guard is often a terrible thing to watch. One only had to see Manhattan play on Friday night to see such a display. The Jaspers were without George Beamon, their leader and pre-season MAAC Player of the Year. Beamon, a sizable combo guard, excels at driving through a defense, creating space for his teammates. Without that pressure release, the Jaspers struggled against Harvard's stifling defense. Manhattan shot 41 percent from the floor and turned the ball over on an astonishing 40 percent of their possessions. The block of traveling supporters in green t-shirts had very little to cheer about all night long. In fact, they were at their loudest, and the Jaspers looked their best, when they came out for pregame layup lines in the snazzy warmups pictured below.
While Manhattan's performance was certainly disappointing, their fans can look forward to the return of Beamon, which should come soon. The rest of the season is still bright for the Jaspers, who will contend in a MAAC conference race that is shaping up to be one of the most competitive on our side of The Line this year. Coach Steve Masiello's bunch will likely never again look as bad as they did on this November night.
It has only been three games, but Siyani Chambers has begun to embody the lead guard role for Harvard. Chambers is generously listed as six feet tall, but always plays with his head up. He is at his best pushing the ball in transition, and his passing acumen is already evident. Through three games, Chambers has averaged 12 points on 55 percent shooting with six assists and only two turnovers. He plays with a quiet toughness that is reminiscent of his coach's demeanor on the floor when he captained Duke.
Harvard's rotation includes only two upperclassmen, senior Christian Webster and junior Laurent Rivard, the only remaining starter from last year's squad. Leading scorer Wes Saunders averaged only 12 minutes a game last season. Harvard has been forced to undergo a metamorphosis a year earlier than planned. It is far too early to know just how good the Crimson will be this season, but it appears that they have found a true point guard in their freshman from Minnesota.
Harvard has no backup plan at point guard. They will go as far as Siyani Chambers can carry them. On the evidence of his first few games, he appears ready to handle the load. at HARVARD 79, MANHATTAN 45
MANHATTAN 0-2 (0-0) -- D. Kates 1-8 2-2 5; R. Stores 3-6 3-5 11; R. Colonette 2-5 1-2 5; E. Andujar 4-9 2-2 12; M. Alvarado 3-6 2-4 9; R. Brown 1-3 1-5 3; C. Jones 0-2 0-0 0; R. McCoy 0-0 0-0 0; S. Richards 0-1 0-0 0; M. Koita 0-1 0-0 0; G. Beamon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-41 11-20 45.
HARVARD 2-1 (0-0) -- W. Saunders 4-10 2-3 10; S. Chambers 3-6 6-6 14; C. Webster 3-5 5-6 12; L. Rivard 5-10 2-2 17; J. Travis 1-3 3-4 5; A. Okolie 5-7 1-2 11; S. Moundou-Missi 1-2 2-2 4; K. Smith 1-1 0-0 2; M. Hall 1-1 0-2 2; E. Cummins 1-1 0-0 2; T. Hamel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-46 21-27 79.
Three-point goals: MAN 6-15 (M. Alvarado 1-1; E. Andujar 2-4; D. Kates 1-6; R. Stores 2-3; S. Richards 0-1), HARV 8-16 (C. Webster 1-2; L. Rivard 5-10; S. Chambers 2-4); Rebounds: MAN 21 (R. Colonette 7), HARV 30 (W. Saunders 9); Assists: MAN 4 (E. Andujar 1), HARV 19 (S. Chambers 7); Total Fouls -- MAN 23, HARV 23; Fouled Out: MAN-R. McCoy; HARV-S. Moundou-Missi.