Sunday, December 6, 2009
Harvard hangs with UConn
By Dana O'Neil
STORRS, Conn. -- No one in the commonwealth of Kentucky will be shaking in their boots when they see this score out of Connecticut -- UConn 79, Harvard 73.
While UK dispatched of North Carolina in its warm-up to Thursday's SEC-Big East showdown with Connecticut, the Huskies looked less than dominant, allowing Harvard to hang around and snip away at a 16-point lead. The Crimson trailed by just five with a minute left as Connecticut clanked at the free-throw line. The Huskies were 26-of-40 from the charity stripe.
But I'll go out on a limb and say that the UConn team that comes to New York on Wednesday night will play a little more inspired than the one that showed up in Storrs on Sunday afternoon. This game lacked a lot in muscle power for the Huskies, but it did allow Jim Calhoun to roll in many of the reserves from his deep bench, guys he'll need against the quick and talented Wildcats.
OK, not much to take solace in, but it's something for a team still under construction in the half-court offense. The Huskies are in dire need of an outside shooting threat. Kemba Walker's shot is much improved, but he's still far more effective going to the rim.
It's also unfair to lay all of the blame on Connecticut without giving any of the credit to Harvard. Tommy Amaker's team plays hard, but also plays smart. Harvard players repeatedly passed up decent looks to make the extra pass for a guy with a better look. Junior Jeremy Lin is fearless in the lane and a legit playmaker, drawing so much attention as the Crimson's legit threat that he attracts a crowd, opening up his teammates for easy buckets. He finished with 30 points and nine rebounds, and for at least this game, was by far the best player on the court.
Don't be surprised to see Harvard give frontrunner Cornell a run for its money in the hunt for the Ivy League's lone NCAA tourney bid.