2012--13 RECORD 20--10 IVY 11--3 (1ST) WHAT'S BACK MINUTES: 83.4% POINTS: 87.7% REBOUNDS: 90.0%
After withdrawing from Harvard for 2012--13 because he was being investigated as part of an academic scandal involving 125 students, senior guard Brandyn Curry (above, center) spent the year in his hometown of Huntersville, N.C., learning new skills. He became a licensed life-insurance salesman, making more than 200 calls per week. He read self-help and motivational books like Jeff Olson's Slight Edge. He took yoga classes Monday through Friday at the YMCA. And by following the Crimson from afar, he saw how a team can coalesce into a contender over the course of a season. "You don't notice when you're playing," says Curry, "because you're so wrapped up in the day-to-day."
Now that Curry and forward Kyle Casey have been readmitted to the university and the basketball team, coach Tommy Amaker has a problem: How should he reintegrate the duo that had been expected to be the best players on last year's team with the four returning starters who did lead Harvard to its first NCAA win, a 68--62 upset of No. 3 seed New Mexico? The most notable adjustment will be in the backcourt, as Siyani Chambers took over Curry's point guard duties and became the first freshman to be named first-team All-Ivy. "We need Brandyn to think more off the ball [and be] a little bit more of an offensive threat," says Amaker.
But it's not the increased scoring burden that worries Curry the most. He must learn to crash the boards instead of retreating on defense and to sprint to the wing in transition rather than wait for the outlet pass. Still, the hiccups have been minor and the expected payoff is huge, especially with sharpshooting senior guard Laurent Rivard and Ivy League player of the year favorite Wesley Saunders (above, 23) also providing outside firepower. "Once we put it together" says Curry, "it's going to be really dangerous." He's seen it happen before.
Projected Lineup (2012--13 STATS)
PG BRANDYN CURRY‚Ä†
SR. 6'1" 7.9 PPG 4.9 APG
PG SIYANI CHAMBERS*
SOPH. 6'0" 12.4 PPG 5.7 APG
G-F WESLEY SAUNDERS*
JR. 6'5" 16.2 PPG 3.5 APG
PF KYLE CASEY‚Ä†
SR. 6'7" 11.4 PPG 5.5 RPG
C KENYATTA SMITH*
JR. 6'8" 5.8 PPG 4.3 RPG
G LAURENT RIVARD*
SR. 6'5" 10.3 PPG 40.2 3PT%
F STEVE MOUNDOU-MISSI
JR. 6'7" 7.9 PPG 5.1 APG
TOMMY AMAKER (7TH SEASON)
SI:What concerns you entering this season?
TA: There's been a lot of chatter about what this team is capable of. My biggest concern is to have our guys do what we did last year, which is not listen.
SI: What does it mean to get a top 100 recruit like Zena Edosomwan?
TA: Not only is he a big-time talent who's going to have an amazing career at Harvard, but he's an amazing kid. I marvel at how he carries himself and why he really wanted to be here for a multitude of reasons.
SI: How different is recruiting now compared with when you took the job?
TA: Harvard is an incredible brand, a magical name, especially now. The kids we're trying to attract have seen certain things—whether that's Jeremy Lin, whether that's winning the Ivy League three years in a row or advancing in the NCAA tournament—a lot of different things have been part of the story for Harvard basketball.
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ROUND OF 64
ROUND OF 32
ROUND OF 32
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (AMAKER)
GIL TALBOT/HARVARD ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS (CURRY)
JOE MURPHY/HARVARD ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS (SAUNDERS)