Tag: Kenyatta Smith

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Top 25 Countdown: No. 23 Harvard Crimson

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source: AP
Siyani Chambers and Tommy Amaker (AP Photo)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package. We continue our countdown today with No. 23 Harvard.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | NBCSports Preseason Top 25 | Preview Schedule

Last Season: 27-5, 13-1 Ivy (1st), lost in the Round of 32 to Michigan State

Head Coach: Tommy Amaker

Key Losses: Kyle Casey (9.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Brandyn Curry (9.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.8 apg), Laurent Rivard (9.9 ppg, 43.0% 3PT)

Newcomers: Andre Chatfield, Chris Egi, Zach Yosher

Projected Lineup

G: Siyani Chambers, Jr.
G: Corbin Miller, So.
F: Wesley Saunders, Sr.
F: Kenyatta Smith, Sr.
F: Steve Moundou-Missi, Sr.
Bench: Jonah Travis, Sr.; Zena Edosomwan, So.; Evan Cummins, Jr.; Andre Chatfield, Fr.; Chris Egi, Fr.

They’ll be good because … : They’ve been good enough to advance to the Round of 32 the last two seasons — they upset No. 3 New Mexico in the 2013 NCAA tournament and No. 5 seed Cincinnati last season — and they not only return two players that could legitimately be named Preseason Ivy League Player of the Year, they also have a front line that is as big, deep and talented as any high-major program that they’ll run into.

It all starts with Siyani Chambers (11.1 ppg, 4.6 apg) for the Crimson. The 6-foot lefty is not only a natural born leader and floor general, he’s talented — and confident — enough to take and make big shots. He’ll be joined on the perimeter by Wesley Saunders (14.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.8 apg), a 6-foot-5 wing that has been the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons. Those two make up one of the best 1-2 punches in the country, not just at the mid-major level.

Wesley Saunders (AP Photo)

While Chambers and Saunders are Harvard’s star power, their front line is good enough to compete with anyone in the country. Steve Moundou-Missi, the best rebounder on the team, is back for his senior season while Kenyatta Smith, who averaged 2.1 blocks as a sophomore in just 14.5 minutes, should be healthy after playing just two games last season. Senior Jonah Travis is back as well, while sophomore Zena Edosomwan and freshman Chris Egi are both top 150 recruits that will play a role off the bench. How many mid-major programs can claim that?

But they might disappoint because … : There simply is not depth in Harvard’s back court this season. Chambers and Saunders, who would be a bit of a liability playing off-guard, will once again be asked to provide heavy minutes. Both averaged 33 minutes in league play last season, and there will be no Laurent Rivard or Brandyn Curry to lean on this season.

Curry was the team’s backup point guard last season, but he was a fifth-year senior that had started prior to a year-long suspension in what was Chambers’ freshman season. Rivard was another senior guard, a sharp-shooter that helped space the floor. To replace those two this season Harvard will be counting on sophomore Corbin Miller and freshman Andre Chatfield.

Miller, like Rivard is a sniper from beyond the arc. He shot 45.6% from three and averaged 4.7 points as a freshman in limited minutes … but that was in 2011-2012. He’s spent the past two seasons on a Mormon mission. Chatfield is a freshman off-guard that was a three-star recruit with high major offers, but he put together a disappointing senior season and ended the year unranked in HoopSeen.com’s top 30 prospects in Georgia.

Outlook: There’s a lot to love about this Harvard team. They have a veteran point guard that has been through some battles and led his team to a pair of league titles — which is impressive in a tougher-than-you-realize Ivy League — and wins back-to-back NCAA tournaments. They have a big-time scorer on the wing and a myriad of big bodies up front. Tommy Amaker has proven that he can win with this group and that shouldn’t change this season.

But unlike last year, the Crimson won’t be able to survive injuries to their back court this season. One high-ankle sprain to Chambers in league play and all of a sudden the Crimson are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament; the Ivy League doesn’t have a conference tournament.

Assuming that Chambers stays healthy, the key to Harvard’s season will be whether Miller and Chatfield can return to their previous form. If Miller can be a double-digit scorer that shoots 43.0% from three, like Rivard, and if Chatfield can be the guy that was recruited by ACC and SEC schools, Amaker will once again have a team that will be a threat to make the Sweet 16.

Broken right foot ends season for Harvard’s Kenyatta Smith

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After playing his best basketball of the 2012-13 season during a two-game stretch in which Harvard beat Penn and Princeton on consecutive nights, averaging 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 blocks per game on that weekend in mid-February, Harvard center Kenyatta Smith was able to earn more minutes in the Crimson’s front court rotation.

In Harvard’s second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament, Smith scored ten points in each of the Crimson’s two NCAA tournament games. And even with Kyle Casey rejoining a rotation that already boasted Wesley Saunders, Steve Moundou-Missi and Jonah Travis, Smith had the potential to earn minutes in his junior campaign.

Unfortunately things didn’t work out that was for Smith, who injured his right foot just days before the Crimson began their season against Holy Cross. Smith wouldn’t see any action until he played two minutes in Harvard’s 80-50 win over Dartmouth, and there was still some hope that he could give the Crimson another interior option for the rest of the Ivy League slate.

But on Monday Smith re-injured his right foot, and as a result his 2013-14 season has come to an end. The news was first reported by The Harvard Crimson.

As a sophomore Smith averaged 5.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. And as fate should have it, the bad news for Smith comes just prior to a weekend matchup (Princeton/Penn) in which he performed so well last season.

With Casey, Saunders, Moundou-Missi, Travis and Zena Edsomwan at his disposal, head coach Tommy Amaker has multiple front court options from which to choose, with all five figuring prominently in the rotation all season long. Smith would have given Harvard yet another front court player, and his shot-blocking ability would have been a nice addition for a team that already leads the Ivy League in blocks per game (5.3).

New Year’s Resolutions: Harvard Crimson

Tommy Amaker
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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.


  • Why it will happen: In most years, Harvard’s non-conference schedule would be more than suitable for an Ivy League team. They play two “reach games” against Colorado and Connecticut, and several games against solid mid-majors, such as Denver, Green Bay, Boston University, and Vermont. However, this season isn’t like most years. Harvard has a chance to make some serious noise in March, but they have left themselves with a dearth of opportunities for a marquee win. They squandered an opportunity at Colorado, but have a chance to redeem themselves at Connecticut in January. The Huskies have holes in their front-court, which happens to be an area of strength for Harvard. The Crimson need this win to legitimize themselves.
  • Why it won’t happen: At full-strength, Harvard has the ability to go toe-to-toe with nearly any team in America, but the issue is they’ve been playing without two of their top players for much of the season: forward Kenyatta Smith and guard Brandyn Curry. Curry has been out with a strained Achilles, and if he isn’t back in time for this game, Harvard will have a difficult time coping with UConn’s guards. Siyani Chambers may be able to hold Shabazz Napier in check, but dealing with Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun will be a tall task.

WHAT DOES HARVARD SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Tommy Amaker will hopefully go to his bench more.

  • Why it will happen: Brandyn Curry will return to the Harvard rotation at some point this season, although there is no timetable. Kenyatta Smith’s injury is more serious than Curry’s, and his return is still in doubt, but he figures to be back for Ivy League play. With these two back, Harvard becomes a much deeper team. Currently, Tommy Amaker is playing with a short bench as Jonah Travis and Evan Cummins are the only two seeing significant minutes. Per Ken Pomeroy, Harvard’s bench is playing just 22.7% of the minutes (335th nationally).
  • Why it won’t happen: The return of Curry and Smith will allow Amaker to play with a nine or ten man rotation, however, the fact that there is no timetable for the return raises red flags. Will either be healthy enough to play against UConn on January 8th? Will they be back for the “14 game tournament,” otherwise known as Ivy League regular season play. There aren’t too many flaws with this Harvard squad — they are one of the most consistent teams in the country — and even though they are the best team in the Ivy League this year, don’t be surprised if they slip up once or twice if Curry and/or Smith aren’t healthy.