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Username Post: Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year        (Topic#21379)
CrimsonBlood 
Pre-Frosh
Posts: 2

Age: 28
Reg: 03-15-18
03-16-18 06:11 PM - Post#253472    

I am curious what you guys think Harvard's starting line-up will look like next year? Aiken and Towns will be obviously be in the starting line-up. Lewis seems highly likely to back as a starter as well. But then it gets more interesting. Let me know what you guys think:

PG (1): Spencer Freedman (freshman)? This is a big question mark. He has great range and can distribute the ball. He might take some pressure off of Aiken and Freedman's 3 pt shooting should give Lewis/Towns more room around the paint.

SG (2): Bryce Aiken is back. He could also play the 2 though he would be small at the 2. If Freedman does not start, Aiken moves to the 1. The big question here is would you rather have Freedman come off the bench (he could excel I think in a 6th man role) and have Bassey play the 2 and have Aiken at 1? That combo would likely be better defensively but worse offensively.

SF (3): Justin Bassey/Noah Kirkwood. Bassey could also play the 3. You have a pretty small line-up if you go this route-- though it is very fast and dangerous offensively. Kirkwood seems like a natural SF at 6-7 with good ball skills.

PF (4): Seth Towns
C (5): Chris Lewis

Key bench Players:

-Kirkwood: (if he does not start)
-Freedman: (if you put Aiken at 1 and Bassey at 2
-Walsh: I really liked what he provided coming off the bench. He needs to get more comfortable passing and finishing around the rim, but he is a big body at 6-10 and 250 lbs.
-Juzang: stepped up big during the season but really struggled against Penn and Marquette.

I'm really curious to see what you guys think. I think if Spencer Freedman and Kirkwood can provide a nice lift, Bassey plays with the fire he had when Towns went down, and Aiken comes back full strength, Harvard could crack the top 25.

Am I crazy?!


 
Old Bear 
Postdoc
Posts: 3455

Reg: 11-23-04
03-16-18 07:58 PM - Post#253503    
    In response to CrimsonBlood

No, but you sound like some of the Columbia, Dart., And even Penn posters speculating about Frosh who have not yet been seen against college level competition.

 
CrimsonBlood 
Pre-Frosh
Posts: 2

Age: 28
Reg: 03-15-18
03-16-18 09:02 PM - Post#253540    
    In response to Old Bear

Ha, that is fair. But also what post NIT exits are for.

I also think Freedman and Kirkwood played at a high enough level in AAU and HS ball to have a decent gauge on them. No guarantee, but I think it's pretty likely they contribute to a hopefully healthy Harvard team ready to reload next year.

 
digamma 
Junior
Posts: 273

Loc: Minneapolis
Reg: 11-27-11
03-17-18 07:29 AM - Post#253578    
    In response to CrimsonBlood

If Bassey plays less than 30 minutes a game, I'd be shocked. Beyond that I have no clue.

 
84grad 
Freshman
Posts: 68

Age: 59
Reg: 11-09-17
03-17-18 09:02 AM - Post#253589    
    In response to digamma

Johnson’s minutes will be reduced, but he’ll get a chunk of minutes as well. And Djuricic will be Towns’ substitute again. I really like his game.

McCarthy may get some as well.

And keep hoping Baker can find at least a niche role.

Lots of pretty good options if they’re all healthy.

 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5269

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
03-17-18 09:05 AM - Post#253590    
    In response to digamma

My guess at a starting lineup (assuming Aiken and Towns can go from day one next season) would be:

Kirkwood, Aiken, Bassey, Towns, Lewis

Noah can flat out play. Much like Wes Saunders - it's okay to call him a small forward, but he's actually a point guard. At least in the sense that he could very easily lead the team in assist rate and could be the team's best playmaker for others.

I'm not as bullish on Freedman as others (and the recruiting rankings). Much like the Faulds comments last year - it's not that he's not a strong recruit... just that the Top 100/150/4-star rankings might be painting an overly ambitious picture of the impact that he'll have early on. That being said, for a team that had to squeeze everything possible out of Juzang, now Harvard will have an embarrassment of riches at that spot (Juzang will likely be the 5th-best point guard on the roster next year, as TMac will be back as well, and can be freed up to move back to a 3-and-D role that is far better suited to his skills).

The big question for me is what role Corey Johnson will have. It's not just the 34% shooting from three, but that he didn't really want to take shots (shot rate fell from 22% as a frosh to 15% this year) that scares me the most. For a team that will have better 3-and-D options (Bassey 43% from three, Juzang 39% and both WAY better on ball defenders than Johnson), Corey will need to go back to being a lights out, volume shooter to see the floor.

So, if I had to guess at the full-strength rotation in the 1-2-3 spots:

Kirkwood 30 mins
Aiken 30 mins
Bassey 30 mins
Freedman 10 mins
Juzang 10 mins
Towns 10 mins

The size on the floor could allow Harvard to avoid playing a small 4, in which case, Towns' 10 mins would likely go to whoever emerges from Rio, Corey, TMac and Kale (who had a strong senior year).

Then, you move to the 4-5. Towns (again, assuming the knee isn't serious) and Lewis are the lock starters there. Harvard's biggest weakness is that it still doesn't have another Lewis, so it's going to spend another season papering over the 5 spot when Lewis is on the bench with either the relatively immobile Welsh, the too-small-to-guard-true-p osts Djuricic, the inconsistent Baker or an intriguing, but raw and undersized prospect Mason Forbes. My guess is that all of these guys will see time depending on the matchup, much like Tommy did this year with the frontcourt rotation.

Towns 20 mins
Lewis 25 mins
Djuricic 20 mins
Welsh/Baker/Forbes 15 mins

Invariably, there will be injuries. The good news is that Harvard is incredibly deep now - both with the incoming class and the added experience that some of the returnees got that they might not have gotten if Harvard hadn't suffered through all the craziness this season. Harvard can survive an injury almost everywhere now except for Lewis.

It's probably best to temper expectations by thinking of this as a two-year build. Amaker is definitely going to tinker in November/December next year, and the schedule will probably be deceptively difficult but not worth very much in the Quad1/Quad2 sense. That will likely mean some frustrating losses before putting it together as the calendar turns.

The 2019-20 season though will be incredibly interesting. Should include an MTE. That's what this is all building toward.

 
Jeff2sf 
Postdoc
Posts: 3807

Reg: 11-22-04
03-17-18 01:23 PM - Post#253619    
    In response to mrjames

  • mrjames Said:

The size on the floor could allow Harvard to avoid playing a small 4, in which case, Towns' 10 mins would likely go to whoever emerges from Rio, Corey, TMac and Kale (who had a strong senior year).




I'm having a hard time picturing what you mean by this. If I understand you right, you'd have a "small 4" and shift Towns, a "big 4" to become a "big 3" but you hope to avoid that? So you have an undersized 4 and an oversized 3 for 10 minutes a game if you can't avoid that?

I'm sure I'm being dense, but I don't get it.


 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5269

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
03-17-18 02:58 PM - Post#253628    
    In response to Jeff2sf

Nope - not dense. I wrote it wrong. If you can throw Kirkwood and Bassey out there, you probably can put Towns at the 4 and be fine. Thus, he'd never really eat up any mins at the three.

 
bradley 
Masters Student
Posts: 809

Age: 69
Reg: 01-15-16
Re: Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 07:31 AM - Post#253670    
    In response to CrimsonBlood

I guess anything is possible but cracking the top 25??? Amaker would have to line up a very tough non-conference schedule and have to go something like 12-2 and probably have to go 13-1 in the Ivies and then win IvyMadness. This scenario would definitely require that the Ivies as a whole significantly improve from an overall conference ranking of #25.

Harvard should be very good next year and probably at another level in Aiken's senior year assuming everyone is reasonably healthy.

Top 25 sounds extremely optimistic but Ivy fans as a whole have the glass half full which is probably a good thing. Time will tell.

 
HARVARDDADGRAD 
PhD Student
Posts: 1185

Loc: New Jersey
Reg: 01-21-14
Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 09:15 AM - Post#253679    
    In response to bradley

Top 25 is crazy talk, but it has happened - twice in the past 7 years.

To reach top 25 ranking, it appears that an Ivy squad would likely need to be hyped coming in and could possibly attain and hold a spot as long as it remains undefeated. A loss against a top 10 or top 15 opponent may not be fatal.

In 2011-12 Harvard spent a total of nine weeks in either the AP or Coaches Poll, reaching as high as No. 22 in the AP Poll on Jan. 2, and as high as No. 21 in the Coaches Poll twice. Harvard was tied for 25th in the preseason 2014 rankings.

In 2011-12 Harvard started 8-0, beating #22 FSU at the Battle for Atlantis. The polls were accepting of a loss at #9 UConn, but not a loss at Fordham in early January. After finishing OOC and starting Ivy League play with 9 more wins, at 21-2 Harvard made it back in at #25 until losing at Princeton. That team finished 26-5, 12-2 in the Ivy League, and lost to Vanderbilt in the NCAA first round.

The 2014-15 squad dropped from the rankings after losing to Holy Cross in its opening Div. 1 game.

For any Ivy squad to crack the top 25, it seems that there need to be extremely high expectations entering the season sustained by a not insignificant OOC run without a loss. A tough OOC loss (or 2?) might be overcome if followed by a perfect 14-0 Ivy campaign. An in-conference loss might have to be on the road and to another Ivy Squad with a strong ranking.

There is a phenomenon that could help an Ivy team. As Power 5 conference foes inevitably knock each other off, a strong (14-0) conference record + a tournament championship could nudge an Ivy team upwards in the polls (Coaches, AP), although possibly not in statistical evaluations (KenPom). We've seen certain mid-majors benefit from this concept. The pitfall is obviously OOC (and any in conference loss). Although the 2016-17 Princeton squad won all 16 conference games (and 19 consecutive games) that team was doomed in the rankings by a 4-6 OOC start. An Ivy squad with 2 or 3 OOC losses could sneak back into the polls with a perfect Ivy campaign and thus 16 straight wins to finish the season. A loss in the Ivy Tournament being so late in the season would certainly drop any squad significantly.


Edited by HARVARDDADGRAD on 03-18-18 09:17 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
palestra38 
Professor
Posts: 19673

Reg: 11-21-04
Re: Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 09:16 AM - Post#253680    
    In response to bradley

To make the top 25, Harvard would have to totally change its philosophy and play team offense. I have seen no indication that that is likely to happen. As long as they play isolation basketball, they have to work too hard for their shots. That's why they struggled so many times this year against teams in the league...in addition to their 2 losses, they had 5 games with victories of 3 points or less or OT...in contrast, Penn had 3, one of which was the victory over Harvard. Harvard has tremendous talent--whether they have the glue to win as they did in '13-'14 and '14-'15 is a real question.

 
HARVARDDADGRAD 
PhD Student
Posts: 1185

Loc: New Jersey
Reg: 01-21-14
Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 09:29 AM - Post#253683    
    In response to palestra38

'38, you make a very good observation, and I'm hopeful that this year was an anomoly.

With Siyani and also with Brandyn Curry, Harvard moved the ball a lot more than it did this year. I believe that Amaker's offense was referred to as "ball movement." Unfortunately, Harvard found itself without a PG in 2017-18 - and that includes Bryce and probably also Tommy McCarthy had he been healthy. From what I'm hearing Noah Kirkwood and Spencer Freedman are more natural at distributing the ball. As they will be freshmen in 2018-19, that could explain why some are looking to 2019-20. By then, barring injuries, etc. the only rotation player who would be missed is Corey Johnson, who would likely be replaced by one of those mentioned above. Personally, I think Harvard still needs a power forward/center to support/relieve Chris Lewis.

Edited by HARVARDDADGRAD on 03-18-18 09:30 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
bradley 
Masters Student
Posts: 809

Age: 69
Reg: 01-15-16
Re: Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 11:35 AM - Post#253693    
    In response to HARVARDDADGRAD

When I watch the top teams in the country, they play a very different brand of ball than IL basketball (uptempo, penetrate to the basketball, physical, etc). The passing around at the perimeter by IL teams is a different style of play. It can work against a team not used to it but in the long run, it can be stopped to some degree by switching out at the perimeter.

The question is does Harvard's top players have the ability to go to the hoop and play un-Ivy League like. Does Amaker change the style of play to some extent? Not sure,

The one team in the Ivies that struck me somewhat different as to style of play was Yale in Sears/Sherrod senior year with Mason doing crazy things. When they beat Baylor, they did not look like an Ivy team as well as when they lost to Duke.

Some Tiger fans cringe at not playing Pete Carril basketball. It is very tough to pull off with the athleticism in college BB.

Just an opinion.

 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5269

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
Re: Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 11:35 AM - Post#253694    
    In response to HARVARDDADGRAD

I never really understand what drives the Top 25 voting. I like to set goals against objective metrics, because it's easy to understand how one gets there (do this, get that vs. do this, see what voters think about it).

Harvard's best team was 2013-14. It finished 32nd at KenPom, won a tourney game and led Michigan State late in R32. For me, that's the mark to beat.

This team will have a more talented roster than that, but that's distinct from actual performance. The players need to be healthy, they need to develop, the best ones need to be on the court (from a lineup perspective) and so on. Talent is important (and it's hard to imagine Harvard not spending the next two years solidly in the Top 100 - as it would take more injuries than this year to keep them out with the incoming 2018 class). But you need to get all of the other stuff right to take a No. 80 team to No. 30 or better.

I disagree with the comment about changing philosophy and playing team offense. This year's team obviously struggled mightily without a point guard, but still finished top half nationally in assist rate, despite some of the necessary hero ball at times. That being said, this year was an anomaly for assist rate. Harvard has been in the Top 100 in that metric every year this decade otherwise, and all but one in the Top 75. That's the whole point of Tommy's philosophy. Use superior athleticism to get the opponent into rotation and then let your playmakers make plays for themselves or others.

This season, Harvard had a lack of playmakers and probably should have abandoned the motion offense, for something more "play" based that gave specific direction to relatively limited playmakers. That part of the observation is absolutely correct. But if Aiken returns healthy (and the team doesn't bizarrely slump from three for half a season before torching the nets), along with the other playmakers added to the roster, the motion offense should flourish again.

Harvard played the final two months of the season as a 110s-level team. It led the league in game script by a sizeable margin and eked out the efficiency margin title. It has easily the most upside for next year of any Ivy team. I just don't trust that Tommy will get to grinding right away and will likely spend the first two months experimenting with lineups. That should dampen the rating a fair deal.

The league is now entering year 2 of a three-year cycle. Year 1 was a bit of a bust due to key injuries/departures. Is what it is. Year 2 could be a dramatic ascension if we're far luckier with injuries but should be a solid step forward regardless. Harvard is positioned to be on the forefront of that rise, but we'll need to see who is actually available in early November to play the games.

 
HARVARDDADGRAD 
PhD Student
Posts: 1185

Loc: New Jersey
Reg: 01-21-14
Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 04:01 PM - Post#253711    
    In response to mrjames

A difference between the upcoming Harvard roster and that of 2013-14 is the bigs. That team had Zena, Evan Cummins and Kenyatta Smith around the basket. Kyle Casey, Steve Moondou-Missi, Jonah Travis and Agunwa Okolie could all rebound as well.

That was a very big and athletic team. Siyani and Brandyn Curry were excellent ball handlers and Wes did everything. Rivard could sure shoot and was improving in other areas as well.

Looking back, that was an amazing Ivy roster. If you think that the upcoming Harvard roster compares (and can stay healthy), these next two years are going to be a lot of fun.

Edited by HARVARDDADGRAD on 03-18-18 04:01 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
HARVARDDADGRAD 
PhD Student
Posts: 1185

Loc: New Jersey
Reg: 01-21-14
Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 04:06 PM - Post#253712    
    In response to HARVARDDADGRAD

Forgot - Kenyatta wasn't available most of that year and Zena was a freshman. Chris Lewis may compare favorably, but the 2013-14 team had bigger and stronger forwards.

Edited by HARVARDDADGRAD on 03-18-18 04:16 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
SomeGuy 
Postdoc
Posts: 4674

Reg: 11-22-04
Re: Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 04:54 PM - Post#253720    
    In response to mrjames

I think a legit question with Harvard is whether you can discount the OOC performance and just say the Ivy season indicates how good they are. Agreed they were close to a top 100 team in conference. When you look at how low the KP ratings were at the top of the league, it is really surprising that we had two 12-2 teams.

That probably happened for good reasons — whatever Tommy was doing with the lineups OOC either worked to make his point or stopped holding the team back. They figured out how to play without Aiken (though frankly the way the season developed kind of makes me wonder whether they have figured out how they to play WITH Aiken). But maybe both halves of the season mean something, and overall they really were just a KP 155.

For next year, while I drew HDG’s ire a bit by saying I’m not conceding anything as a penn fan, if I was a Harvard fan I certainly wouldn’t be conceding anything either. I still think that, in a sense, the fact that you’re talking about a two year plan is too long given the quality if recruits over the last 3. So it still feels to me like Harvard SHOULD be dominant right now. I certainly think they could be right away next year.

 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5269

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
Re: Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 06:44 PM - Post#253734    
    In response to SomeGuy

Judging from the lineup splits, Harvard was pretty good with its best players on the floor in the OOC. That's why I'm inclined to believe that most of the OOC issues were either the playing around with lineups in November or the post-exam break loss of Bryce that took a while to work through. Given the consistency of how this team played once it got acclimated to a post-Bryce world and tended to give major minutes to the same players, I think it's pretty safe to use that as a starting point.

Harvard *could* be very good next year. It has the most productive class in the 16 seasons for which I have records. Not having *anything* in the 2014 class and very little in the 2015 class (not to mention the nearly empty 2013 class before it) was absolutely brutal. So much assistant coaching turnover led to some big misses. No matter how good of a recruiter Tommy is, it's hard to overcome that immediately (though the 2016 class is as close as you could expect to doing so). If Harvard even had a couple solid rotation players in each of those classes, it probably would have had little trouble winning the league this year and would be a huge favorite for next year. Instead, all it got this year was Corey Johnson's worst season at Harvard.

 
bradley 
Masters Student
Posts: 809

Age: 69
Reg: 01-15-16
Re: Harvard Starting Lineup Next Year
03-18-18 08:37 PM - Post#253742    
    In response to mrjames

Next year's preseason should have Harvard as a strong favorite assuming that Aiken and Towns are in good health. Probably, a pretty big drop down to Penn followed closely by Yale with a drop down to Princeton. Can anyone challenge Harvard, maybe, but more than likely Harvard should be the #1 seed to IvyMadness with no guarantees associated with being the #1 seed. Best strategy is get a bid without having to win IvyMadness.

For the Tigers, can Jaelin Llewellyn be crazy good as a freshmen? He will clearly be the PG with Cannady as a SG with Llewellyn probably trying to set him open for 3 pt shots. Llewellyn may be craxy good.





 
GoBigGreenBasketball 
Masters Student
Posts: 554

Age: 46
Reg: 05-19-16
03-18-18 09:34 PM - Post#253748    
    In response to Old Bear

Nothing wrong with speculating on your incoming freshman. Dartmouth I hear has a PG who will play with USA basketball this year. He must be alright Plus mrjames is high on him.
"...no excuses - only results!”


 
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