Harvard picked first in Ivy poll

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
4:04
PM ET
Harvard men’s basketball was picked to finish first in the league in the 2013-14 Ivy League preseason poll, the league announced Wednesday.

Tommy Amaker’s team received all 17 first-place votes (totaling 136 points), the first unanimous pick since Cornell in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Penn (100) came in second, followed by Yale (96), Princeton (93), Brown (74), Cornell (38), Dartmouth (38) and Columbia (37).

After sharing the Ivy title in 2010-11 and playing in the NIT, Harvard won consecutive outright Ancient Eight titles in 2011-12 and 2012-13 and played in the NCAA tournament in two straight seasons after a 65-year absence. Last season, the Crimson won the first postseason game in school history by upsetting No. 3 New Mexico in the second round.

The Crimson lost only one player after last season, as senior co-captain Christian Webster graduated and joined Amaker’s staff as an assistant. Everyone else is back, including Siyani Chambers (Ivy Rookie of the Year), Wesley Saunders (the Ivy’s leading scorer as a sophomore in 2012-13), Laurent Rivard (voted a co-captain for the second straight season in 2013-14) and emerging big man Kenyatta Smith.

Having sat out a year after being implicated in a massive academic cheating scandal, seniors Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry are also back in Cambridge. And as if that’s not enough, Amaker adds highly regarded recruit Zena Edosomwan -- a California product who turned down offers from Cal, UCLA and USC, among others, for Harvard -- to the mix this season.

Late last month, Amaker was asked if this season’s squad will be the most talented team he’s had at Harvard. The coach, going into his seventh season with the Crimson with a 112-66 record and four straight 20-win seasons on his resume, said it might be but that the 2011-12 team led by Oliver McNally and Keith Wright could give it a run.

“I don’t want to shortchange that squad,” he said. “I’m anxious to see if this team can do what that team did. They hunkered down, we went 10 deep and guys didn’t blink an eye if they had to play two minutes or 10 minutes. That team had great leadership, they were outstanding.

“That team set an enormous standard for these kinds of moments. And we’ll see. Talent wise, I think it’s a close call.”

The Crimson open the season on Nov. 10 at TD Garden against Holy Cross, part of the Coaches vs. Cancer tripleheader that also includes Boston College-UMass-Amherst and Boston University-Northeastern.

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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