Harvard's Saunders, Chambers honored

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Things have been far from perfect in the early going for Harvard (3-3), but Tommy Amaker’s team got at least a little good news: The Crimson swept the weekly Ivy League awards, the league announced on Monday.

Wesley Saunders, who leads the team in scoring (15.8 points per game) and is second in minutes (34.0), was named player of the week. Siyani Chambers, who leads the team in minutes (36.5) and assists (5.0 -- tied for the conference lead) and is third in scoring (11.3 ppg), was named rookie of the week.

Chambers, who has started all six games this season, had a career-high 16 points and 8 assists in a loss to Vermont on Nov. 27. He had 13 points in the Crimson’s win over Fordham on Dec. 1.

When news broke that the Crimson would be without would-be captain and point guard Brandyn Curry because of the academic scandal that has gnashed gears at Harvard, Amaker said Chambers’ acclimation process might have to be sped up.

The freshman has handled the situation with aplomb so far.

“I’ve been very pleased,” Amaker said before practice at Lavietes Pavilion on Monday afternoon. “I think he had six turnovers, maybe, in the last game, which we need to not have as many for any point guard, whether it’s a freshman or a senior.

“But I think he’s done a magnificent job of running our ball club and orchestrating our transition game. I think he has a presence on our team and on the court. I think our players, they listen to him, they look to him. That’s just a part of how he’s wired, part of his DNA of being a point guard that comes very naturally to him. So we’re very pleased.”

Saunders is the only other player to start all six games for the Crimson, and also had a career high in scoring against Vermont, with 21 points, and added four assists and four steals in the game. He chipped in 17 points against Fordham, with 13 of them coming from the foul line (where he shot 13-for-18).

And without the other would-be captain snared in the cheating scandal, Kyle Casey, the Crimson will need Saunders to continue to perform at a player-of-the-week level.

“We need those kind of numbers and performances out of Wesley,” Amaker said. “Can he play better? Yeah. He can play a lot better. He missed five free throws in the last game [against Fordham]. Although he got there a ton of times, I was shocked that he missed that many. And he can finish better around the rim. There are a lot of things I think that he can improve on.

“But he had a really good summer, played really well for us in Italy and I think now you see it translating over into how the season has transpired so far.”

Saunders spoke glowingly Monday about his fellow Ivy award-winner, singling out his will to win as perhaps the most important thing he brings to the Crimson.

And asked what it felt like to win the Ivy rookie of the week honors, that’s what stood out in Chambers’ response.

“Actually I didn’t even know that,” he said. “To me, it’s a great accomplishment, but right now I’m not even worried about any awards that I get or anything. I’m just trying to go out every day and get better and do whatever the coaches ask me to help the team win games.”

The next chance for the Crimson comes Tuesday night in Chestnut Hill, where Chambers & Co. will take on Steve Donahue’s Boston College Eagles (7 ET, ESPN3).

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