Harvard PG Curry eager to return to action

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
10:36
PM ET
Brandyn Curry was losing it.

Harvard was beating New Mexico for the first NCAA tournament win in the program's long history, and the Crimson's would-be senior co-captain was at home in the Charlotte, N.C., area.

"I was right in my living room with all my family, going nuts, going crazy," he said recently.

Curry was torn. Though he was happy for his teammates and coaches, he was also upset that he couldn't be a part of the historic accomplishment.

Because they were implicated in an academic cheating scandal that involved more than 100 Harvard students, Curry and fellow would-be senior co-captain Kyle Casey had to withdraw from school for a year before the 2012-13 season started to preserve their eligibility. The pair is back in the fold now, ready to get on with their lives as the Crimson prepare for the 2013-14 season.

[+] EnlargeBrandyn Curry
AP Photo/Matt YorkBrandyn Curry hasn't played for the Crimson since a 2012 NCAA tournament loss to Vanderbilt.
Asked about the scandal, Curry said he couldn't talk about the details but that withdrawing was "definitely the right decision."

Curry said he had to get a job -- he worked as a life-insurance salesman -- and was forced to work out on his own, separated from his Crimson teammates and the Cambridge campus.

"It was really tough at first to sit at home and watch, especially with the first game when we lost to UMass," Curry said. "Definitely wanted to be out there. But it was actually a really great experience to get to watch our team as a spectator.

"Getting to watch them really develop, especially the younger guys with Siyani [Chambers] and Wes [Saunders], getting to watch them pretty much grow up and step into their roles was a tremendous thing to watch."

Taking over the point guard spot after Curry had to withdraw, Chambers ran with the opportunity. The 6-foot, 170-pounder won the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award, averaging 12.9 points (Ivy rank: sixth), 5.7 assists (first) and 37.8 minutes per game (first).

Saunders, shouldering the mantle of top scoring option as a sophomore, scored in double digits in all 28 of Harvard's games and led the Ivy in scoring per game (16.5 PPG).

Harvard returns practically its entire roster from the team that went 20-10 (including 11-2 in the Ivy) last season, losing only Christian Webster (who's back, too, as an assistant coach), and now adds Curry and Casey into the mix along with top recruit Zena Edosomwan.

"We're definitely excited, just adding pieces to the team," senior sharpshooter Laurent Rivard said. "We lost only one player and we're getting these guys back and getting a lot of experience from them, a lot of talent from them. They're players that have done a lot for this program. We're excited to have them back and try to take this season to a whole new level."

Coach Tommy Amaker said at the Massachusetts basketball media day that he doesn't know how the pieces fit yet. But Curry has a few ideas.

For starters, he expects more big things from Chambers.

"We expect him to really be the main one driving the team, being the quarterback out there and handling the ball and continuing to improve," he said. "I think having me and Kyle back he just has more weapons now to facilitate the ball to. I think we'll be great defensive-wise, and can wreak havoc in the backcourt."

In other words, don't expect Curry to butt heads with his young teammate over who gets to hold the reins.

"Absolutely," he said about whether he'll mesh well with Chambers. "I feel we're both unselfish players, we both can score and we both have our team's best interest in mind. So we're just trying to win, whatever it takes. I think we'll complement each other very well."

With another wildly successful season behind them, the Crimson appear to be more than happy to accommodate the returns of Casey and Curry.

One measure? The Crimson voted Curry a co-captain, along with 2012-13 co-captain Rivard.

Amaker said he wasn't surprised at the result, knowing Curry the way he does. Which is not to say the coach didn't find it noteworthy.

"I think that's an amazing thing for one of those guys to be thought of again in that way and he wasn't even there," Amaker said. "I just think if you look at that in a way, how much that speaks about Brandyn. I think he thinks of himself in that role. I think that's the way that he's always carried himself in our program."

"For me it was definitely a tremendous, tremendous honor," Curry said. "That was one thing that definitely hurt -- being co-captain and then having to take the leave, I wasn't really sure how it was gonna shake out because that's something that I wanted to be, was a captain."

Unlike his coach, Curry admitted the voting took him aback a bit.

"Part of me was surprised, because the young guys didn't really know me that well," he said. "Definitely a little bit of a shock. I'm just very happy that it did work out."

Having spent a year away, Curry returns with some added perspective. He can never get 2012-13 back, he'll never be a part of the historic first win in the Big Dance.

But that doesn't mean there's no history left to be made. And if Harvard can beat the pressure of raised expectations and make more winning history in 2013-14, Curry will surely lose himself in the middle of it.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

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