Harvard v. Staee
If you are looking for information to increase your level of involvement as you root, against the astronomical odds, for Tommy Amaker's Crimson to eliminate Staee, then this post is for you. If you have Sparty advancing in your bracket, then please skip over -- and just don't send me to Bolivia. Anyway, here are ten things to watch and cheer for when Harvard takes on MSU, viewed mostly through a maize-and-blue lens:
1. Tommy Amaker. You knew that already. Cheer for Tommy because the firing ended up working out for the better for everybody.
2. Laurent Rivard, Canadian Three-Point Specialist. All the best teams have got one this season. Cheer for him whenever he sets up in Stauskas' corner. Late in the game, expect Tommy to draw up a play out of a time-out beginning with a screen away from the ball, freeing up Rivard at the top of the key. Start cheering before he launches it, because there isn't any question he's going to shoot.
3. Siyani Chambers, Point Guard, and Cousy Finalist. An Amaker mini-me, from the basketball perspective, that is. Faster and quicker than anyone expects from the Ivies. At some point on D, he will try to pick off a pass that is heading back up to Appling, intended to reset the half-court. Cheer if he does that, which is about 1.3 times per game.
4. Wesley Saunders, Ivy League Player of the Year. As you know, it's good to have a conference POY on the team you're rooting for, and that's really true no matter what conference. Tommy wants everyone on the floor to get a touch or two before any shot, but late in the clock, if there has been no defensive breakdown, expect the ball to end up in Saunders' hands. Saunders is the one Harvard player who can consistently create his own shot -- or command enough attention to drive and dump. Yell for Saunders to get the ball when the shot-clock hits 6.
5. Kyle Casey and Steve Mondou-Missi, front-court. Harvard has no answer for Payne on either side of the floor. But look for this duo of undersized bigs to try to compensate for height disadvantage with interior passing. Big-on-Big assists figure prominently in Tommy's playbook. Cheer especially if Casey and Mondou-Missi engineer the unconventional 5-to-4-Oop.
6. Quick turn-around. At some point in the broadcast, the commentators will mention the fact that the Ivies play back-to-back games every weekend. Games are scheduled on Friday and Saturday nights -- no games throughout the week. The commentators will then speculate about whether this arrangement affords Harvard any advantage now that it's tournament time. Cheer for all Ivies when they mention this (although the answer is "no").
7. Brandyn Curry, Sixth Starter. Think "Vinnie". The five true starters all score in double-digits on average, and Curry himself averages 9.3 per game off the bench (9 against Cincinnati). Press mute when the announcers talk about the fact that Curry and Casey missed last season because of an academic scandal. You know they will.
8. Jonah Travis. Yet another undersized big. An "energy" role player. Think "Maxiel": to look at him, there's no way he should be playing 4, but there he is.
9. Worry if you see Evan Cummins come off the bench. When you hear "Cummins" think "Bielfeldt". Cummins does bring some legitimate shot-block threat to the defensive paint. But his entry into the game means that Harvard's first options in the front-court are in foul trouble.
10. Lin Shu-How. At some point, the announcers will mention Jeremy Lin. Like Crimson fans everywhere, shush the room when they do.