CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – If there’s any justice in this world, Kyle Casey will have a better ending.
Many will look back at Harvard’s heart-breaking 55-54 loss to Penn and see Casey as a goat. He got the ball from an inbounds pass in the final seconds, but was called for a charging foul and had a basket waived off as a result. The basket would have put Harvard ahead with 3.5 seconds left. A win would have clinched a tie for the Ivy League title and put the Crimson at a point where very little could keep them from the coveted NCAA Tournament bid.
But games are never won or lost on one play or by a single player, and Saturday night was no different. Harvard had a great defensive effort, but a team has to score to win as well and the Crimson had trouble doing that. Penn was able to largely match them defensively, as the Crimson committed 20 turnovers. Harvard also shot just 31.6 percent from the field in the second half. They had a 28-17 rebounding edge, aided by ten offensive boards, but turned those into just eight second-chance points, which matched Penn’s total.
Casey led the team in scoring with 12 points and also had a team-high six rebounds. He also had a team-high five turnovers, but for those who need convincing, the stats back up that he alone didn’t lose the game.
One can figure Casey was probably inconsolable after the game. He’s a competitor and quite simply one of the best kids in college basketball. He’s overcome adversity on the court before, including a broken foot that sidelined and then hounded him last season. A charismatic young man, he’s bright, engaging, fun-loving and someone that any person could root for. He could have played college ball at a little higher level, but chose Harvard for the education he is getting. After he lit up Brown for 27 points on 8-9 shooting as a freshman, Brown head coach Jesse Agel was complimentary of the young man in a way that tells you about his character.
“I’m a huge fan of Kyle, if you’re a college basketball fan of any sort, he’s a guy you want to root for,” said the Brown mentor.
You don’t wish something like this on anyone, but simply put, Kyle Casey is about the last person you would want to see this happen to.
Over the course of the season, many in the media have perhaps overrated Harvard a little. It’s not so much ranking them, although one can have a healthy debate there. They earned a lot of what came their way with the good wins they got in non-league play. Whether or not they could get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if they don’t win the Ivy League’s automatic bid is debatable, although the bubble is very weak this year. Some have talked about how this team compares to other Ivy teams, wondering if they are better than many of them from a talent standpoint.
While some of that might be a bit much, there’s one thing that isn’t up for debate: Casey is not alone as far as the character of the team is concerned. This is a team with an amazing group of young men. All down the roster, from Casey to captains Keith Wright and Oliver McNally, on down to the younger players, this is a team of young men you would want a son of yours to grow up to be like. Casey is just one very good example.
Harvard still has two games left, and Penn doesn’t have a simple task, either. Harvard could very well go dancing without a one-game playoff, and Casey could lead the way. He could play a supportive role, too, and that wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.
But whatever may happen next, Kyle Casey will have a better ending if there is any justice.