Harvard senior point guard Siyani Chambers is taking a voluntary leave of absence and will be out for the 2015-16 season after tearing his ACL in workouts, according to a release.
Chambers has to leave school for the year because of Ivy League rules against athletic redshirts and will look to re-enroll for the 2016-17 academic year to finish out his college eligibility.
This is a huge loss for the Crimson as Chambers has been the lead guard behind a number of huge wins in the last three years. The 6-foot-0 native of Minnesota has averaged at least 34 minutes per game during all three years of college and put up 9.9 points, 4.3 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game last season.
Without Chambers, Harvard suddenly looks very inexperienced, especially in the backcourt. The Ivy League could be a wide open race now and the Crimson will have to fight to win the league’s regular season crown and NCAA tournament bid for the fifth consecutive season.
Siyani Chambers’ last-second, step-back jumper lifts Harvard past Columbia (VIDEO)
Siyani Chambers created separation from Maodo Lo with a step-back before rising up for the game-winning bucket with 2.9 seconds. Wesley Saunders would ice the win moments later, as Harvard remains atop the Ivy League standings with a 72-68 win over Columbia on Friday night in Cambridge.
The junior point guard ended with a season-high 16 points in addition to his three assists (zero turnovers). Saunders recorded 18 points, five boards and six assists. Lo led all scorers with 22.
The Crimson, winners of five straight since a home loss to Dartmouth, led by 19 points with 80 seconds left in the first half. The Lions would dig into that deficit, cutting it to nine before the first TV timeout of the second half. Lo and Jeff Coby each connected on 3-pointers in the last minute to tie the score at 68-68.
With Yale’s 75-48 win over Penn on Friday night, Harvard remains tied for first in the league standings. The Crimson hold a slight edge after beating the Bulldogs last week. Yale travels to Harvard for the rematch on March 6.
No. 25 Harvard is a team expected by many to win the Ivy League outright for a fourth consecutive year, and having won an NCAA tournament game in each of their last two appearances the Crimson are also seen as a team that could accomplish said feat for a third consecutive year.
Well, there may be a need to pump the brakes on the “Harvard should once again win the Ivy League” chatter.
Harvard struggled Sunday evening in their matchup with Holy Cross, committing 22 turnovers and falling to the Crusaders 58-57 in Boston. Milan Brown’s team, which was picked to finish third in the Patriot League preseason poll, got after Harvard defensively and kept the Crimson from getting comfortable on that end of the floor.
And from an individual standpoint, senior guard Justin Burrell outplayed Harvard point guard Siyani Chambers. Burrell finished the game with 16 points and four assists and was the best guard on the floor, with Chambers accounting for just one point (0-for-3 FG), four assists and a staggering eight turnovers.
To put Chambers’ turnover count into context, Chambers committed more than four turnovers in a game just twice in 2013-14.
While Harvard finished the game with just one player in double figures, Wesley Saunders (24 points, 12 rebounds and four assists), Holy Cross had balance on the offensive end of the floor as Eric Green and Malcolm Miller joined Burrell with 12 points apiece. There’s no denying that Chambers is one of the most important players in the country this season, as when he plays well Harvard is a much better team offensively as his teammates get looks in areas where they’re most likely to enjoy success.
Discussions as to why Chambers is so important tend to focus on Harvard’s lack of an option behind him, but how well he plays is just as critical for the Crimson. Thanks to Justin Burrell and Holy Cross the junior point guard struggled, resulting in Harvard’s first loss of the season.