UConn to face Harvard for fourth straight year
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 23:12
The UConn men’s basketball team takes the court at Gampel Pavilion tonight against the Harvard Crimson. UConn looks to bounce back from a hard-fought 69-65 loss to No. 25 North Carolina State at the Jimmy V Classic in New York on Tuesday.
After rattling off four wins to begin the season, UConn (6-2) has split the last four games. Harvard is 4-3 and is coming off a 16-point blowout win over city-rival Boston College for the fifth consecutive season. Connecticut is 3-0 at home, with wins coming over a trio of America East opponents: Vermont, Stony Brook and New Hampshire.
Junior Shabazz Napier will look to duplicate the start the Huskies had Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Napier single-handedly outscored the Wolfpack 10-7 in the opening minutes. Napier averages 18.6 points per game and has led UConn in scoring in seven of eight games this season.
UConn also held a 20-9 lead early in the first half. But the Huskies seemed to lack the size in the front court to win.
Sophomore DeAndre Daniels has stepped up this season and has primarily played the power forward position. Daniels scored seven points but only recorded one rebound in 21 minutes. Daniels played through some discomfort in his back against the Wolfpack. He is a game-time decision for tonight’s game.
“DeAndre has to play better,” Coach Kevin Ollie said after Tuesday’s loss. “I believe he has the ability to go out there and create more. To get on that low post and not settle for threes.”
Ollie stressed that the time will come this season when Daniels and fellow big men Tyler Olander and Phillip Nolan will carry the team.
That time may have already come twice for junior Enosch Wolf. After an impressive performance against Wake Forest earlier in the season, Wolf has been quiet the last five games before exploding for 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
“Whenever we are in a big game, he shows up big time,” Ollie said. “He has confidence. He knows his limitations, which is a great strength of his. Some other players don’t know that, sometimes.”
The Huskies will take the positives from Tuesday’s loss in tonight’s game against a tough Harvard team. Harvard, a 2012 NCAA Tournament team, is 0-3 against UConn under current head coach Tommy Amaker. UConn won 67-53 when the Crimson came to Storrs last year.
Amaker boasts three of the most talented guards in the Ivy League. Junior Laurent Rivard (11.4), freshman Siyani Chambers (12.7) and sophomore Wesley Saunders (16.1) together average over 37 points per game. Chambers had 21 points and seven assists in the win over BC.
UConn has found a comfort zone at the free throw line through eight games, which is unusual for Connecticut teams. It may be a result of the lack of big men who are often poor free throw shooters. As a team, the Huskies have made 134 of 173 (.775) from the charity stripe.
The game can be watched on SNY and ESPN3.com and can be heard on WHUS at 7 p.m.