Monday, February 24, 2014
Harvard's Chambers continues to grow
By Jack McCluskey
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- If there’s one thing that has been made abundantly clear about Siyani Chambers in his first two seasons, it’s that the talented Harvard point guard isn’t shy.
“He’s a big-time competitor,” Crimson coach Tommy Amaker said Monday in the lounge at Lavietes before practice. “There’s no bigger, better competitor in our program than Siyani. He’s off the charts when it comes to that.”
Siyani Chambers was named Ivy League player of the week for the third time this season.
After demonstrating that competitive fire again this past weekend, Chambers was named Ivy League player of the week for the third time, the league announced on Monday.
The 6-foot, 170-pound Golden Valley, Minn., native averaged 11.0 points and 9.0 assists as Harvard (22-4, 9-1 Ivy League) swept the Penn-Princeton swing to complete the first season sweep of both teams in the same season in program history. After the weekend sweep and Yale’s loss to Columbia on Sunday, the Crimson now have a one-game lead in the Ivy race.
Chambers had 9 points, 10 assists and 2 steals in the Crimson’s 83-63 win at Penn on Friday, then added 13 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals in the 59-47 win at Princeton on Saturday -- Harvard’s first win in Jadwin Gymnasium since 1989.
“His presence and his leadership, his daring,” Amaker said, ticking off some of Chambers’ attributes. “He seizes moments, when there’s something there he seizes it. He really has a knack for that. ... I thought he deserved being player of the week.”
Senior co-captain Brandyn Curry, the Crimson point guard before Chambers arrived in Cambridge, has long since passed the point of being surprised by his young teammate.
“He’s a fiery one,” he said. “He’s always got a lot of energy. That’s who he is and that’s why we love playing with him. He definitely brings a lot of emotion to the game and he loves playing, loves winning.”
And Chambers’ fire isn’t only used on opponents. In practices, the sophomore often faces off with the senior Curry.
The result is loud.
“We’re definitely some fierce competitors, for sure. And we’ve definitely had our battles,” Curry said. “We’re really good friends off the court but on the court, you know, especially when we’re up against each other we definitely go at each other.”
Chambers tries to use his speed and quickness to get a jump on Curry, who tries to use his size (the senior’s got an inch and 25 pounds on the sophomore) and strength to his advantage by posting up his slightly smaller teammate.
“I love it, though,” Curry said. “It’s great competition and I feel like we really push each other really hard. And practices definitely get heated sometimes.”
The Crimson point guard shares this week’s award with Columbia’s Alex Rosenberg, who averaged 20.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in wins over Brown and Yale.
Chambers is second in the Ivy League in assists per game (4.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9), sixth in steals per game (1.3) and 15th in points per game (11.0). And though his numbers are good, when you talk to the Crimson about Chambers they end up talking much more about his intangibles.
“He’s a competitor. That’s what you have to have, that’s who you have to be. He’s won a lot, if you look at his history of his playing days,” Amaker said. “He’s accustomed to that, and what he brings to the table is a sense of confidence. And in the right way, nothing outlandish or whatever.
“He’s been a part of a lot of winning, and winning championships and things of that sort. So he knows what it takes and he certainly loves to be on that stage when it’s happening.”
So as the calendar flips to March and the pressure ratchets up, the Crimson know they can count on Chambers to keep an even keel no matter what’s thrown at him -- be it praise, such as his third Ivy player of the week award, or invective from a hostile crowd, like he faced down Saturday in New Jersey.
“He’s a tremendous player, as he’s shown,” Curry said. “He’s definitely deserving of every award he’s getting, being on the Bob Cousy list and being player of the week. He’s done so much for our team. He’s the leader of our team. We go as he goes.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.