Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

For Harvard, its will to win makes all the difference

February 23, 2015 Columns No Comments

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sometimes, the numbers aren’t even worth looking at if you watched the game and want to explain the result. Sometimes, all the things that don’t show up in a box score say it all, say more than the box score could ever tell you. And sometimes, a championship can be explained from it.

Enter Harvard’s 63-55 win over Princeton on Saturday night. While Harvard has proven their mettle in close games – they are 4-1 on the season in games decided by five points or less – there’s one main way to explain this one: a will to win. Harvard had it, Princeton might have a bit of it, but not nearly as much as Harvard did and certainly not enough.

“There is a belief that we can find ways that we can push through, and we were fortunate to be able to do it tonight,” said head coach Tommy Amaker.

Princeton has battled back from a bad non-league performance to hang in there in the Ivy League race, though they needed some help. The Tigers had not been as good a defensive team as they usually are, but in the first half on Saturday night they were excellent at that end. They forced Harvard into a lot of tough shots, may have rattled their confidence as Harvard also couldn’t finish some close shots they got, then translated that into offense as they shot nearly 61 percent from the field. Princeton led by 12 more than once before a Crimson run helped them get a little closer before halftime.

The late run at first appeared to do little more than get Harvard closer, but it may have set the stage for what was to come.

“We just talked about trying to hang in there,” said Amaker. “I thought that we missed so many things around the rim, I thought that if we could just show the composure and be able to relax a little bit in the second half, the shots we didn’t make in the first half we would make in the second half.”

In the second half, Harvard first appeared to solve the Princeton defense, but the Tigers had enough answers to maintain. It was only a matter of time, however, before Harvard would get the stops they needed as well, and they did. Princeton admirably rebounded after Harvard gained a 45-44 lead to go back on top, but Harvard would eventually take the lead for good. You could see it coming, and once the Crimson got the lead over a possession, you had a feeling they had this one.

“We had to dig down and just compete every possession, get stops and defensive rebounds,” said junior point guard Siyani Chambers. “I think in the second half we were able to do that, down the stretch and in the key moments of the game.”

The Crimson certainly had to do that defensively, given Princeton’s offensive prowess in the first half. They know the offense is always tough to defend, and even tougher when Princeton is as locked in as they were defensively in the opening frame.

Saturday marked the third time in the last four years, and fourth time overall, that the Crimson have overcome a double-digit deficit against Princeton to win. With it, they swept Penn and Princeton for the second year in a row, the first time anyone has done that in 60 years. While it’s a remarkable tale of how great Penn and Princeton have been as the long-time standard-bearers for the league, it also speaks volumes about how Harvard is currently in that position. It also reinforced a big part of how they have arrived in that place.

“I think that’s something that we’ve had here in this program,” Amaker said of the team’s will to win. “We’ve gone through some stages and moments that we’ve had, I think there’s a belief and a confidence that we can do it. I think our kids displayed that tonight against a really good basketball team and a tough team.”

With the win and Yale losing to Columbia, Harvard now leads the Ivy League by a game. They won’t get too comfortable, and not just because they host the Bulldogs on the last weekend of the season. They either need help or to match Yale game for game and then beat them in Cambridge on March 7. If they emerge as Ivy League champions once again, their will to win will have a lot to do with it – probably a lot more than any numbers will.

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we touch on a number of issues affecting conferences like Conference USA, as well as a big loss for Creighton, less mystery in Arizona, and more on the ACC as we look forward to the weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 12, 2017

January 12, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a short stint in the top spot of the polls, some developments in the Mountain West Conference, and more of the ACC before closing with the Big East and Atlantic 10.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 24, 2016

December 24, 2016 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about the great games Kentucky has been a part of lately. We go on to other ACC matters involving arch rivals, as well as some quick hits and a conference race that should be as good as expected.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 16, 2016

December 16, 2016 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a coaching legend reaching a milestone, the defending champs looking very good and continuing their winning ways close to home, and some off-court news during a light week of game action.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 29, 2016

November 29, 2016 by

Early season tournaments are the focus in this episode, with a look at how strong a few Big East teams are out of the gate and how strong the ACC could be. Plus one SEC team had a big week outside the scope of tournaments.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.