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Saturday, December 31, 2011

True Test Awaits Saturday as 24/23 Crimson Faces SJU


What: 24/23 Harvard Crimson (11-1) vs. Saint Joseph's Hawks (10-3)
Where: Lavietes Pavilion, Allston, Massachusetts
When: Saturday, December 31st at 4:00 PM (Pregame at 3:45)
How: Streaming Audio and Video live on GoCrimson.com

What may well be the toughest remaining test of the regular season awaits the Harvard Crimson men's basketball team tomorrow. The Saint Joseph's Hawks ride are riding a five-game win streak up to Cambridge that, perhaps appropriately, began nearly a month ago, as the Hawks downed the Boston University Terriers 75-68 at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia three days before the Crimson would do the same, 67-46, at BU's Agganis Arena. Included in Saint Joe's five-game streak is the program's marquee win, an 80-71 upset of 19/17 Creighton on December 10th. Explosive junior guard Carl Jones led the Hawks, putting up 29 points in the contest (20 of which came in the second half) and going 9 for 17 from the field and 10-11 from the charity stripe. Jones, who leads all Hawks scorers averaging 18.5 points per game, had his best outing of the year against Seton Hall (12-2, 1-1 Big East) in the Charleston Classic. Although the Hawks lost 78-70, Jones scored 38, going 12 of 17 from the field, 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, and 10 of 11 from the line.

That being said, Saint Joe's is a team that can win in many ways. The Hawks are second in the A10 in shooting percentage, on average making 48.5% of their shots in a given contest. Both Ronald Roberts and CJ Aiken are talented players down low; Aiken accounted for three spectacular dunks in the Hawks win over Villanova, and is a frequent target for those types of flashy interior plays. Aiken is also tied for second in the nation in blocks per game, rejecting an average of 4.3 per contest.

Even so, for the Crimson defense, the most important factor will be to limit the opportunities--particularly easy ones--for Hawks guards Carl Jones and Langston Galloway. The duo have accounted for 46% of Hawks scoring this year, and both are skilled shooters from long range (Langston averages 49.3% from 3) and closer to the basket. Expect Brandyn Curry--probably the Crimson's best defensive guard--to play a big role.

The Hawks are also vulnerable on the road--while a perfect 7-0 at Hagan Arena, they are only 1-2 in unfriendly confines, having dropped a double-OT contest at Iona and a 66-60 game at American. Harvard, for its part, has won its last 20 games at Lavietes Pavilion, and will benefit from a sold-out home crowd.

Pregame coverage will begin live on GoCrimson.com at 3:45 with Scott Reed and Charlie Hobbs at Lavietes Pavilion. Tipoff is at 4:00.

Friday, December 30, 2011

First Semester Grades for Harvard Hockey

With the second semester of hockey almost here, now's a good time to review how things went in the first half of the season. Harvard is 4-3-3 overall and stands 3-3-2 in the ECAC, good for a tie for 4th place with four other teams.

Team Offense: Harvard is a top-10 team in offense so far this season, averaging 3.50 goals per game. That's good for first in the ECAC (Union averages 3.35 GPG for second) and 2nd in Boston (behind BC's 3.53 GPG). Harvard's played less games than everyone, but it's still good company to be in. Digging deeper, of Harvard's 35 goals, 17 have come on the power play. While the Crimson have done a good job drawing penalties at even strength (5.3 power plays per game) the scoring has not come at evens. In conference, these numbers look slightly less impressive. Harvard averages 3 goals per game in ECAC play, 5th in the league. Of their 24 goals, 14 have come on the power play. Harvard draws 5.375 power plays per game, but only 10 even strength goals in 8 games played is a little worrying. Grade: B+

Team Defense: Defensively, Harvard is a bottom-10 team, certainly not what anyone predicted for them this season. They've given up 34 goals this season, or 3.4 goals against per game, 51st in the nation and last in the ECAC. Opposing teams have scored 11 goals on the penalty kill, meaning Harvard has given up 23 goals per game at even strength. Harvard is thus at a -.50 goal differential per game at even strength, giving up 5 more goals than they've scored at evens. The in conference numbers are (slightly) less troubling. Harvard has given up 24 goals in 8 league games, good for the 8th best scoring defense in the league - tied with cellar dwelling RPI but ahead of Dartmouth, Brown, and Princeton. Of those 24 goals, 10 have come down a man, meaning Harvard has given up 14 goals at evens in the ECAC. They are again being outscored by half a goal per game at even strength looking at only conference play. That number needs to become a positive and quickly if Harvard wants to remain in the hunt for a bye. Grade: B-

Special Teams: The power play is the best in the nation (17/53, 32.1%) ahead of Yale at 28%, though Yale has a slightly better conference power play at 33.3% to Harvard's 32.6%. Yale, though, only has 8 power play goals and only 24 attempts, compared to Harvard's 14 PPGs on 43 attempts. As highlighted in the offense section, Harvard's power play accounts for over half their goals in league play (and just about half overall). Harvard might have more difficulty in the second half- some teams began adjusting to Harvard's main play after giving up a few goals within a game to start keeping Harvard off the board. Now having seen the PP once and having video of it, teams might start taking away Harvard's looks. On the opposite side of the coin, Harvard fans can only hope that the long break meant the penalty kill got a new look. It's worst in the nation (24 for 35, 68.6%) and worst in the conference (21 for 31, 67.7%). On the bright side, despite giving up 14.5 PIM per game, Harvard only gives up 3.5 power plays per game. If Harvard can cut down on the majors and misconducts inflating the first number, they have a better shot at minimizing the dangers of their penalty kill. Grade: A- for the PP, gentleman's C- for the PK

Some Quick Thoughts:
Harvard's road does not get much easier any time soon. Two games await with Union and Yale, they still have road games at Cornell and Colgate ahead, as well as a road game at Quinnipiac, where Harvard has had little success historically. Non-conference, they still have (a slightly weaker now) BU and the Beanpot (BU and then BC/NU) after this North Dakota swing.
Part of Harvard's success on the power play has been that Patrick McNally has been a big time player on the blue line from the start of the season. Playing well above expectations for a freshman, McNally gives the Crimson two offensive threats on the point, forcing opposing boxes to spread wider, giving more room to players like Killorn to be a threat down low.
Another part of Harvard's success on the power play is that the second unit looks completely different from Harvard's first unit. The 2nd PP line likes to dump and chase, hit the defenders to cause turnovers, and then work the puck down low. Two of Harvard's PP goals have come from Eric Kroshus doing exactly that, than skating out of the corner to score.
In ECAC play, it's a giant jumble in the middle. Cornell and Colgate pace the league, and RPI is definitively bringing up the rear, but 3rd and 11th are separated by just 3 points. There's still a lot of games left in the league, so expect a lot more volatility in the standings.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

#25 Harvard Crimson return home, host Florida Atlantic December 22nd

Harvard's contest against Florida Atlantic is the last for the squad before a week-long break for the Christmas holiday.


What: #25 Harvard Crimson (9-1, 0-0) vs. Florida Atlantic Owls (4-7)
Where: Lavietes Pavilion, Cambridge, MA
When: Thursday, December 22nd, 7 P.M. (Pregame coverage at 6:45)
How: 95.3 FM WHRB in the Greater Boston area, or streaming live worldwide at www.whrb.org.

After an extended hiatus for finals period, the Harvard Crimson return home to Lavietes Pavilion to face the Florida Atlantic Owls. While a loss to the Connecticut Huskies had briefly dropped the Crimson out of the Top 25 rankings, this week saw the Crimson return as #25 in the Coaches Poll, and were the unofficial #26 in the AP Poll. The Owls, for their part, have played much more recently than the Crimson, narrowly losing a 93-90 Double OT game to the University of Miami on December 17th. Pregame coverage starts live from Lavietes at 6:45, with Charlie Hobbs on the call for WHRB and for Gocrimson.com.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Former Harvard Head Coach Joe Restic Passes Away at 85

According to Harvard Athletics, former Harvard Football Head Coach Joe Restic passed away on the evening of December 8th at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Restic was 85.

Restic was hired as Crimson head coach on January 5, 1971, and remained at the helm for the next 23 years. In that time, Restic won 5 Ivy League Championships and led the team to a 117-97-6 record. Restic is second on the all time-wins list for the Harvard Crimson.

WHRB would like to extend its condolences to the entire Restic family.

For the full press release from Harvard Athletics, click here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Sportsmas, 2011




Sportsmas begins tomorrow! Excitement is in the air!

The First Day of Sportsmas

What: Harvard women's basketball @ New Hampshire
When: Tuesday, December 6th, 7pm, coverage begins at 6:45
Coverage:
95.3FM in the Greater Boston Area (those not in the metro area that have in their heart the true meaning of Sportsmas can log on to whrb.org to listen)


And now, here's that WHRB original classic, The Night Before Sportsmas


Twas the night before Sportsmas, and all through the school,
not a sports team was stirring, not even men's crew.
The radios were placed, on their desktops with care,
In hopes that WHRB's coverage, soon would be there.

The students were nestled, all snug in their beds,
while visions of Crimson danced in their heads.
Before going to sleep, I and my buddy,
Had just settled down for a long winters study.

When out on the Yard there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the desk to see what was the matter.
I jumped up after hearing the noise coming at us,
Hoping it was the hockey team returning from practice.
Away to the window I flew like a dart,
Pushing aside Harvard pennants and art.
The moon reflecting in the dead of winter
Made the yard glow like inside the Bright Center,
When, what by my wondering eyes should be caught,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny mascots,
With a little old driver, a jolly good charmer,
I knew in a moment it must be John Harvard.
More rapid than track stars his mascots they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Tiger! Now, Bulldog! Now, Big Green and Lion!
On, Quaker! On Brown Bear! On, Big Red and Crimson!
To the end of the ice! to the end of the court!
Now play away! play away! play each in sport!
As a point guard jumps up for a rim shattering slam,
Or a goaltender who gets his team out of a jam
So up to the dorm-top the mascots they flew,
With the sleigh full of radios, and John Harvard too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard 'bove the roofbeam,
The skating and dribbling of each Ivy League team,
As I put on my Crimson hat, and was turning around,
Down the chimney John Harvard came with a bound.
He was really quite large, a great big old mass,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ice shavings and grass;
A bundle of radios he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- pure Crimson! his dimples how small!
His cheeks were like pucks, his nose like a ball!
His droll little mouth had a smile a bit loony,
And the beard of his chin was as white as home unis,
The stump of a pipe he held was immense,
And the smoke it encircled his head like good defense,
He was in a great mood, not at all mopey,
Because in his bag sat an Ivy league Trophy,
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old man,
And it seemed his entrance was all part of his plan;
A wink and a point to his championship rings
Soon let me know that he could do great things.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And tuned all the radios, then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to the teams gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,

"Happy Sportsmas to all, and to all a good-night!"