For most teams in Division-I college basketball, it is hard to win without elite athletes. The Harvard Crimson (25-4, 12-1) has been proving while it is hard, it is also possible to do — even at a high level.
The Crimson started the season 4-0 before falling to Colorado late, 70-62. The road loss against quality a quality opponent obviously galvanized Harvard as the team went on to win nine-consecutive games; none of which were closer than an eight-point deficit.
The key to the Crimson’s superb season has been its defense. Harvard ranks 11th in the country in points allowed (59.4) and is particularly impressive on the perimeter as it averages eight steals per game. The Crimson has also been no slouch in the paint either as it ranks 44th in the nation with five blocks per contest.
Harvard plays defense with the best teams in the nation, but doesn’t have the athletes these teams have. However, the team is not without a scoring punch.
Although Wesley Saunders leads the team with 13.8 points, Harvard has six other players who scored more than 190 points on the season. The team receives contributions from all of its starters, which is an accomplishment other teams dream of. Harvard is able to compensate for its offensive liabilities by way of committee.
Schools with Harvard’s scholastic prestige have a hard time landing big-name recruits because they expect their players to be actual student-athletes. But the Crimson are a great example of how effort defense and true team togetherness can win despite the odds.