Jeremy Lin Has Harvard Atop Massachusetts Basketball

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January 10, 2010

Jeremy Lin Has Harvard Atop Massachusetts Basketball Harvard University and basketball excellence aren't usually mentioned in the same sentence, but this season, Harvard is the best college team in the state of Massachusetts.

Entering this year, the Crimson were 75-119 (.387 winning percentage) over the previous seven season and without a single winning record over that span. More notable is the fact that Harvard has not played in the NCAA tournament since Harry Truman was in office — 1946 to be precise.

But this is a different season. Harvard owns road wins at Boston College, Boston University and Holy Cross. Since these schools have already beaten UMass and Northeastern, it seems only right that Harvard claim the top spot in the state.

So how did the Crimson do it? How did a team that finished in sixth place in the Ivy League last season climb to the top of the Massachusetts ladder? Well, for one, BC had a big drop off this year with the departure of Tyrese Rice. Second, head coach Tommy Amaker is in his third year at the helm and has to be given some credit for the turnaround. But the biggest reason for Harvard?s success is the play of senior point guard Jeremy Lin. After all, even a great coach will not win many games without talent.

In his three-plus years at Harvard, Lin has developed into a great player, and over the past two seasons, Lin has been a beast. This year he is averaging 17 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals per game, and his play has not gone unnoticed. This past week, Lin was named one of 31 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award — the most prominent college basketball player of the year award.

Playing for Palo Alto High School, Lin was named California Division II player of the year his senior season. Amazingly, he did not receive a single Division I scholarship offer (Harvard and Brown both recruited him, but Ivy League schools do not grant athletic scholarships). Instead of trying to walk on at a larger school, Lin chose to attend Harvard, and the Crimson are glad he did.

Coach Amaker also deserves credit for the play of the Crimson, since the team mostly consists of inexperienced underclassmen. Of the top five scorers, Lin is the only upperclassman.

But Amaker?s best performance comes in the form of recruiting. In 10 seasons as head coach of Seton Hall and Michigan, Amaker took only one team to the NCAA tournament. However, his name still carries recruiting weight. Last year he locked up the top recruiting class in the Ivy League, according to HoopScoopOnline.com, which included Massachusetts native Kyle Casey, who is third on the team in scoring this season.

Harvard?s 2010 recruiting class also looks very strong. It includes commitments from Northfield Mount Hermon (Mount Hermon, Mass.) teammates Laurent Rivard and Matt Brown, as well as Ugo Okam, a 7-footer who plays for Montverde Academy in Florida.

But this year it?s all about Jeremy Lin. The hyper-athletic point guard has really put all the pieces together. In a one week span earlier this season, he dropped 30 points at No. 13 UConn and 25 points at Boston College.

Cornell was the unanimous preseason pick to win the Ivy League this season, but Harvard (12-3, 1-0 Ivy league) is sure to challenge them.

If you?re a basketball fan and you want to see a terrific local player, do yourself a favor and check out a Harvard game.

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