Walking into the Leavey Center of Santa Clara University, it was obvious this was not a home game for the Broncos. The majority of the 4,700 seats were filled with Harvard fans, or to be more accurate, fans of Jeremy Lin, the Palo Alto High School alumni. Black shirts flooded the stands with "The Jeremy Lin Show" etched on the back. And then, of course, there were some crazy Harvard undergraduate fans in attendance as well.
The game did not disappoint. Although Lin scored only six points, his nine assists and three steals made him an absolute pleasure to watch. However, the true excitement came from the Crimson freshmen scoring 53 (yes, 53) of Harvard's 74 points. Ridiculous. As one of the crazy fans, Kyle Casey made me jump out of my seat, losing my cowboy hat, countless times. For lack of a more eloquent phrase, Casey is the man.
With the Ivy League on the horizon, this game brought me hope as well as a little worry for the Harvard squad. Here are the top 5 things I noticed about the team.
1) Raw Talent - The freshmen and maturing sophomores are the obvious heart of our team. And they are good. Putting up 89% of Harvard's points vs. Santa Clara shows that they are going to have to continue to perform if the Crimson want to keep winning. Consistency will be key.
2) Raw Talent (2) - The freshmen and sophomores are, by definition, young. An ugly first half was riddled with silly turnovers like a half-court violation and a handful of "carrying the ball" calls. Although the turnovers were meaningless in this game, mistakes from the inexperienced players could be detrimental in league play.
3) Jeremy Lin's Selflessness - The man can see the court as well as any player in the NBA. His ability to find an open passing lane and thread the needle to the open man is incredible. However, Lin is overusing this gift. In the Santa Clara games, he chose to try for the extra pass numerous times, when he had a much better driving/shooting opportunity in front of him. A balance between the 30 points/game and the 6 points/game Jeremy Lin is a necessity.
4) Chemistry of Lin and McNally - These two are fun to watch together. In their second season as teammates, their chemistry on the court is developing and benefiting the Crimson in every game. Look for this relationship to play a key role in the big league games this season.
5) Coach Amaker - What a leader. I've hardly talked to him and I would still follow him into battle. It is his job to make the freshmen grow up as quick as possible this year and so far, he is doing a fine job. This trend must continue if Harvard wants to make it into the Dance this year.