Notebook: Harvard hoops hurting

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
11:16
PM ET
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- In the end, it was the cruelest of cameos.

After missing the first 17 games of the season, Harvard big man Kenyatta Smith returned from a foot injury to play two low-pressure minutes in the Crimson's blowout win at Dartmouth on Sunday. He didn't take a shot, grab a rebound or even commit a foul. He met with reporters Monday, when he talked about how excited he was to be back, and then roughly an hour later he broke a bone in his left foot in practice.

He'll miss the rest of the season with the injury.

"Very disappointing for him, first of all," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. "And then certainly disappointing for our team, knowing that he was gonna be an integral part of this season, of whatever success we were gonna have. And know we don't have him. We didn't have other pieces here tonight, either, so it was a very tough game for us to figure out without having a full complement of players."

The Crimson were also without junior forward Jonah Travis, who suffered a concussion in the win over Dartmouth, and sophomore guard/forward Agunwa Okolie, who is dealing with a sore knee and missed a couple days of practice this week, in the 82-76 win over Princeton. Amaker said they're both out indefinitely.

"We anticipate having those guys at some point, they're not out for the season," Amaker said. "They're banged up now. We're very hopeful that we'll get them back and have those guys fill in our rotation. But will that be tomorrow? We don't know."

Harvard hosts Penn on Saturday night (9 ET).

"It was different, but Coach [Amaker] always prepares us," Harvard co-captain Laurent Rivard said of playing without the trio. "He always says 'Stay ready, so you don't have to get ready.' Whether we have those guys or not, we just stay true to our identity. Maybe we have to play some more minutes, but a lot of us are used to it."

Against Princeton, Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders each played 38 minutes, and Amaker mostly relied on his starting five when things got tight in the second half.

"Guys do a great job in practice to stay ready," Rivard said. "And everybody works hard so that when Coach calls your name they're ready to go in. We do the same thing whether guys are in or out. Injuries, they're not fun to have and we miss these guys but we do the same thing whether they're on the court or not."

Loving Lavietes

The 82-76 win was Harvard's 18th straight at home, one of the longest streaks in the nation (Duke has the longest active home win streak, at 28).

Holding serve at home is important, Rivard said, because the Crimson know just how hard it is to win on the road. So don't expect the Crimson to slack off Saturday just because Penn comes in on a downswing, at 4-12 overall and 1-1 in the Ivy.

"Coach always says the league is won on Saturday nights," Rivard said. "If we lose tomorrow we're back in the mix with everybody else. We're trying to separate ourselves from these teams, so it's a big game for us tomorrow."

"Our conference is a bear," Amaker said. "And I don't think anybody is gonna feel like they're gonna have a chance when it's all said and done if we can't feel like you have a very good home record within our league."

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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