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Username Post: 2020 Outlook        (Topic#22963)
mobrien 
Sophomore
Posts: 143

Loc: New York
Reg: 04-18-17
03-25-19 12:19 AM - Post#282650    

As long as everyone can stay healthy, we're going to have a deep, talented, and experienced roster. There are going to be a lot of talented guys who are going to struggle to get minutes.

I'd imagine the starting lineup next year would be:

1. Aiken
2. Bassey
3. Kirkwood
4. Towns
5. Lewis

Based on what I've read about Ledlum, I'd be surprised if he isn't one of the first guys off the bench. It's possible that by the end of the year he could even supplant Bassey in our closing five.

Aside from him, I think it's hard to say who will emerge as Tommy's top reserves (or for how long they will). Juzang will probably start the year as our top backup at guard, but Haskett could push him for minutes there.

Djuricic and Baker will probably compete for the stretch big role off the bench, partly depending on whether we need Djuricic's better offense or Baker's defense on any given night. Forbes will have to bulk up at least a little, and work on his offense to get consistent minutes.

Catchings provides a lot of versatility. He'll most likely be Bassey's backup, but he's shown that he has the strength and athleticism to play as a smallball "big" for us if necessary. His energy and effort on defense figure to earn him some minutes somewhere.

It will be interesting to see who we schedule in the nonconference. We'll have an early season tournament, and should have at least a game or two against power conference teams, but this would be the year — I hope — to do a lot more than even that.

The three biggest questions for me are:

1. Will Towns be himself, and will he and Aiken be able to mesh well on offense?
2. Can we get the turnovers under control, at least sub 20 percent?
3. Can everyone stay healthy?

If the the answer to all these questions are yes, this has a very good chance to be the best Harvard team Amaker has had. It might even put together a good enough resume to merit an at-large bid (although let's not find that out). It should have big ambitions.

This is what we've all been waiting for.

 
OneIvyOne 
Junior
Posts: 201

Loc: West
Reg: 08-28-13
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-25-19 09:22 AM - Post#282656    
    In response to mobrien

To even be considered for an at-large, the coaching staff will have to figure things out a lot sooner that have appeared to the last few years. Their OOC record is poor, and some of it appears to be the coaches haven't figured out the obvious in terms of rotation to give the team a chance to win OOC. And both games against Dartmouth.

 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5491

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-25-19 10:04 AM - Post#282658    
    In response to mobrien

That all seems pretty spot on. My take on your questions:

1 and 3) I'm not too worried about Towns getting back to where he was.

That being said, I am worried about further injuries. If this year was all about Towns being hurt, that would be one thing, but aside from Kirkwood, everyone in that starting five (plus Juzang) either missed significant time with injury or was significantly less effective trying to play through injury. We've had pretty terrible injury luck over the past two years, and while I expect (hope?) that will regress, I suspect there will be some injuries - so who and when will be very important.

2) I'd like to say that the trend makes me confident that Harvard will open up next season carrying the ball around in Fort Knox, but it doesn't really. In its two NIT games, Harvard posted its highest TO rates in a month. But to some extent, that's the broader point here.

What Harvard needs to do is curtail the really, really bad games, rather than staying 20% and under all the time. Losing the games at URI and UVM and the home collapse against Cornell are the ones that I'd focus on - reducing those TO rates from 30-35% down to 20-25% would have been enough to take home those contests.

Harvard's going to lose a random one or two both when opponents shoot insanely well (@Yale2, vs. Northeastern, @Dartmouth) and when it shoots insanely poorly (@USF, @Cornell). It can't *also* lose the winnable games above because it turns the ball over on 1-of-3 possessions.

My understanding about the schedule is that the opportunities will be there, though two HUGE variables will be the MTE matchups and how many other Ivies can crack the Top 75 or Top 135.

If pretty much fully healthy, Harvard should be in good shape to put together a decent resume, like in 2012 and 2014, because Tommy won't have much to fiddle with. And the good news is that this class has played its best basketball against the toughest competition (frankly, avoiding BAD losses will be the bigger challenge).

Health is everything, though. Hard to project out much until we know where that's going to land - though the ceiling is extremely high.

 
mobrien 
Sophomore
Posts: 143

Loc: New York
Reg: 04-18-17
03-25-19 11:00 AM - Post#282659    
    In response to mrjames

Lewis's health will be one of the big keys. Our defensive efficiency was 2 points per 100 possessions worse this season, in large part, I think, due to him not being close to 100% for most of the year.

The NIT games were a reminder of what he can do when he's feeling better, though. It wasn't just the offense. It was the shot-blocking, and the way he was able to cover up other guys getting beat. (This is one reason I don't think Amaker can afford to give up on Baker, despite all his mental mistakes. We need Baker's length, athleticism, and shot-blocking against better teams).

It'd be really nice to finally get to see what these guys could do if they were all relatively healthy at the same time.


 
Naismith 
Freshman
Posts: 48

Loc: RI
Reg: 11-11-18
03-25-19 11:45 AM - Post#282661    
    In response to mobrien

In the two NIT games, Lewis played even better than the first team All-Ivy stud he was in previous year. Didn't look like same player at all this regular season . Was he actually playing injured most of this year? Somewhere was a comment that he benefited from NIT's test-expanded NBA paint area.

 
PennFan10 
Postdoc
Posts: 2300

Reg: 02-15-15
03-25-19 11:54 AM - Post#282663    
    In response to Naismith

I never heard Lewis was injured. He missed 3 games around Thanksgiving and then logged an average of about 20-25 minutes a game the rest of the season.

 
mobrien 
Sophomore
Posts: 143

Loc: New York
Reg: 04-18-17
2020 Outlook
03-25-19 11:56 AM - Post#282664    
    In response to Naismith

My understanding is that Lewis was playing through injury most of the year. He missed a few games back in November — we incredibly beat St. Mary's on the road without either him or Aiken — and was struggling with it the rest of the way. He clearly wasn't himself for large parts of the Ivy season, to the point that Amaker would spell him for big chunks of the second half to save him for the last five minutes or so.

Lewis certainly benefitted from playing one of the worst post defenders in the country in Jessie Govan in the first NIT game, but even then, he still looked a lot spryer than he had in weeks. That carried over into the second game against NC State too. The bigger lane might have helped, and not facing Ivy opponents who know all his weaknesses — like struggling to pass out of double teams — didn't hurt either. But I think the biggest thing was that he just looked healthier. It's a huge difference for us.


 
PennFan10 
Postdoc
Posts: 2300

Reg: 02-15-15
03-25-19 12:21 PM - Post#282666    
    In response to mobrien

If he is averaging 24 minutes a game while playing through injury, then he is just like almost every starter in the Ivy League. He averaged 24.1 minutes in IL this year as opposed to 26.9 last year. His rebounding, steal and block numbers are virtually identical to last year but his offensive production is down a bit. That may be injury or it may be the Bryce Aiken effect. Who knows.

Not to belabor the point as Lewis was terrific in the 2 NIT games, but it doesn't make much sense that he was not himself for 6 weeks of the Ivy League and then all of a sudden, 3 days later he is fine for 2 NIT games.

 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5491

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-25-19 01:48 PM - Post#282674    
    In response to mobrien

One more point on a more macro issue...

The biggest thing I'll be watching between now and start of season 2019-20 is the recruiting efforts.

Harvard graduates 7 seniors and is only up to 12 in the last three classes. That leaves it with the ability to take a class of 8-9 (though it'll undoubtedly be less than that, it can still be a sizeable class).

The goal by tip in early November would be to have a class in place that makes 2019-20 more of a beachhead for a new normal than a top of cycle peak followed by a sizeable regression (like happened following the Saunders class graduating). While Haskett, Kirkwood, Ledlum, Djuricic and Forbes (plus Catchings, Freedman) is already a step up over TMac, Johnson, Okolie, Cummins, Z (plus Miller, Steeves), there are still some holes to plug in order to stay close to the level the team might reach next season.

Harvard should be set for 2/3s in the near future... Kirkwood, Ledlum and Haskett (much, much better suited as a wing than a PG) are proven/expected to be solid while Tretout and Catchings should provide even more depth there. The huge needs are a pure playmaker point guard (or two, frankly the past two years have highlighted how important it is to have two reliable ball-handler/creators), a stretch 4 and a real post presence.

While I don't think the team will feel the same pressure as fans might that this is "the last stand," certainly I wouldn't want the tenor of next season both for Harvard and for the league to be live and die by every game because it's a unique opportunity for the league that has to be seized in this moment. For Harvard to have an answer for losing Aiken, Towns and Lewis (as well as Penn for AJ and Yale for Miye/Bruner) already in place in the 2020 class could go a long way toward shifting the framing of next season from the "last of" to the "first of."

 
HGA 
Freshman
Posts: 51

Loc: New York
Reg: 10-16-18
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-25-19 04:49 PM - Post#282690    
    In response to mrjames

Harvard is quite fortunate in that very few recruits would turn down the opportunity to get a Harvard degree if given the chance (and they know how to win). With that said, I wonder how much longer this will be the case, as kids want to play and there is an abundance of talent on their bench and with no guarantee of meaningful playing time from game to game. In fact, many on their roster (12+!) would play 30+ minutes at any of the other Ivys -- a very unique situation.

 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5491

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-25-19 04:54 PM - Post#282691    
    In response to HGA

Generally, if a prospect is worried about playing time, they're probably not a very good recruit. The really good ones have a ton of confidence and don't worry as much as we'd think about winning playing time.

 
HGA 
Freshman
Posts: 51

Loc: New York
Reg: 10-16-18
03-25-19 07:18 PM - Post#282706    
    In response to mrjames

Prospects, or "good recruits" may not be worried about paying time nor may lack confidence. Top-100 / 4-5 star recruits have hard expectations about playing time. Harvard has been good enough to attract top talent and my point is only around how long those expectations will be met on a team that is very deep.

 
section110 
Masters Student
Posts: 794

Loc: south jersey
Reg: 11-22-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-25-19 08:18 PM - Post#282711    
    In response to mrjames

The greater risk would seem to be transfers, grad transfers as we have been seeing, but also regular transfers. Understood that the value & allure of an Ivy degree limits the risk; but, some 4*s who sit the bench for a year or two may leave or more likely take a year off from hoops, get the degree & play a year elsewhere.

 
HGA 
Freshman
Posts: 51

Loc: New York
Reg: 10-16-18
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-25-19 09:25 PM - Post#282716    
    In response to section110

Transfers are not that common in the Ivys, as it defeats the purpose of choosing an Ivy league school. Not to mention the "sunk cost" of tuition paid (assuming no aid). Taking a year off and doing a 5th year is difficult if you've not really had the chance to establish your worth buried on a talented bench. Additionally, people tend to forget who you are one year removed from last having bounced the basketball.

 
palestra38 
Professor
Posts: 21625

Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-26-19 07:18 AM - Post#282774    
    In response to HGA

It is more typically exercised after an injury. Towns is likely to use it after next year--after all, why not (unless he has NBA prospects, which is not out of the question)? The Boudreaux situation is indeed atypical, and probably has more to do with personal issues between player and coach than anything else.

 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5491

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-26-19 07:57 AM - Post#282775    
    In response to palestra38

I'll take the other side of Towns grad transferring.

 
palestra38 
Professor
Posts: 21625

Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-26-19 08:29 AM - Post#282776    
    In response to mrjames

Am I incorrect that he has a year of eligibility after Harvard graduation?

 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5491

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-26-19 08:54 AM - Post#282780    
    In response to palestra38

You’re right about that.

 
section110 
Masters Student
Posts: 794

Loc: south jersey
Reg: 11-22-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-26-19 09:11 AM - Post#282782    
    In response to mrjames

Doesn't Towns go to the NBA evaluation events & get a reading on his prospects; with his graduate school lined up if he doesn't get a good read. I agree w/you that grad transfer is the likely outcome.

 
palestra38 
Professor
Posts: 21625

Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-26-19 09:49 AM - Post#282786    
    In response to section110

You are disagreeing with Mike and agreeing with me if you think a grad transfer is likely. He's betting against it (presumably for the NBA)

 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5491

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-26-19 09:57 AM - Post#282787    
    In response to palestra38

When you presume you make a "pre" out of u and me.

Well, that one doesn't work. Ugh.

 
palestra38 
Professor
Posts: 21625

Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-26-19 10:01 AM - Post#282788    
    In response to mrjames

Oh wat ta goos Iam

 
SomeGuy 
Postdoc
Posts: 4896

Reg: 11-22-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-26-19 04:53 PM - Post#282828    
    In response to mrjames

Is there a scenario where he plays 2 more years at Harvard?

 
mrjames 
Professor
Posts: 5491

Loc: Montclair, NJ
Reg: 11-21-04
Re: 2020 Outlook
03-27-19 01:38 PM - Post#282878    
    In response to SomeGuy

No, I'm pretty he's got one year left at Harvard.

 
HARVARDDADGRAD 
PhD Student
Posts: 1619

Loc: New Jersey
Reg: 01-21-14
04-02-19 01:57 PM - Post#283184    
    In response to mrjames

As in conference outcomes seem to be getting tighter, FT shooting makes a difference.

When Bryce returned to the lineup I predicted that I expected Harvard's FT% to improve - and it did. Crimson shot 76.2% with Bryce. I had also projected that the one player who was struggling the most from the line - Justin Bassey - would improve with more limited playing time. Justin shot 70% in conference compared to under 60% OOC. Both were a far cry from 81.6% in each of his first two seasons. Similarly, Christian Juzang's 79.7% this past season was a drop from 88.7% the prior year.

If that weren't enough, Seth Towns takes the second most FTA after Bryce and shot 80.5% and 82.1%.

Harvard could be the best FT shooting team in the nation! This year only two squads shot 80%, Incarnate Word ((81%) and Hofstra (80.2%). At 76.2% Harvard would be in the top 20. What a turnaround from a few years ago when Harvard was the second worst FT shooting team in the nation.

Looking forward, top recruit Chris Ledlum appears to be a 55% FT shooter (NMH & AAU). On the other hand, Ledlum has been described as "[t]he most impactful player I have seen during my time at Cushing. He takes over games on a consistent basis against some of the best teams in the country." James Cormier, formerly assistant coach at Dartmouth.

 
SRP 
Postdoc
Posts: 3819

Reg: 02-04-06
04-03-19 04:52 PM - Post#283240    
    In response to HARVARDDADGRAD

Throwback to Amaker's early Harvard teams, where FT shooting was a major strength.

 
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