Harvard earned four first-place votes in the Ivy League preseason media poll (Gil Talbot).
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After enjoying one of the most successful seasons in program history last year, the Harvard men's basketball team was picked second in the 2010-11 Ivy League men's basketball preseason media poll, league officials announced Wednesday.
The Crimson earned four first-place votes and trails only Princeton (16 first-place votes) in the preseason poll. Rounding out the poll are Cornell (one first-place vote), Penn, Yale, Brown, Columbia and Dartmouth in that order.
Harvard is coming off a 21-8 season in 2009-10, as the Crimson advanced to the postseason for the first time since 1946, receiving a bid to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Harvard, under head coach Tommy Amaker, who is entering his fourth season in Cambridge, also posted a 10-4 conference record last season, finishing in third place.
Despite graduating four-time All-Ivy League selection Jeremy Lin '10, who is now a member of the Golden State Warriors, Harvard returns eight players from last year's squad, including reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year Kyle Casey, who has been honored on every preseason all-conference team. Casey led the team with 5.1 rebounds and was second with 10.4 points per game.
Junior guard Oliver McNally, who shot 83 percent from the free-throw line last year, and junior forward Keith Wright, who hit 56 percent from the floor, will serve as co-captains of the Crimson this season. In addition, Amaker and his staff welcome six freshmen to the roster, which also features three juniors and five sophomores.
Harvard will tip off its 2010-11 campaign by visiting George Mason Saturday, Nov. 13 for a 4 p.m. start, and will host Holy Cross in the Crimson's first game at home Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.
2010-11 Ivy League Men's Basketball Preseason Media Poll
1. Princeton - 128 points (12 first-place votes)
2. Harvard - 120 (4)
3. Cornell - 96 (1)
4. Penn- 86
5. Yale - 57
6. Brown - 55
7. Columbia - 48
8. Dartmouth - 19
Head coach Tommy Amaker's Comments During Ivy League Men's Basketball Teleconference:
It's always a pleasure to get back to basketball season and return to the gym. We feel that we have a good nucleus of returning players. I think it was obvious that we had a tremendous senior class for us last year, led by Jeremy Lin, who was incredible for us. That group helped us really get us thinking about looking ahead toward real high level success here with Harvard basketball. We have our work cut out for us in trying to replace the many, many wonderful things he was able to do for us on such a very consistent basis.
On competing for the Ivy League title:
Like everyone else, we are solely striving to be the best we can be every year. Every season is different. It's a new group and a new year this season with players taking on new roles. We ask for players to step up in their roles and production, but you're never really sure that can always happen. We need to stay the course and continue to get better. I'm not sure we have the most talent, but we like the group that we have. Everyone every year is trying to be the best we can, and I think if we can stay healthy, we would like to think we can stay very competitive this year.
On junior forward Keith Wright:
I think the first step for any player to become a marquee player is consistency. The biggest thing is also staying healthy. If you look at any league, you can look at marquee players to see if they are healthy and consistent. Those two things go hand in hand, especially if they are talented enough. If Keith can do that, he can certainly be a marquee post player for our team. We are hoping he can stay healthy and become a consistent player.
On the development of freshman center Ugo Okam:
Well, we are a few weeks into practice now and it's still early. The freshmen are still adjusting and any coach or teacher understands that they are all over the map. Everything is brand new to them. You have to stay patient and sometimes it's a lot to ask of freshmen to step into a role. Sometimes a lot of it depends on how they are adjusting to campus and college off the court. We think Ugo has the ability to help us, but who knows how much during the early part of the year. We like who is he, we like his work ethic and we think the future is very bright for his tenure here at Harvard.
On the positive attitude on campus for Harvard Men's Basketball:
In the terms of spirit on campus, it has been wonderful. It's a neat environment. We love representing this university. It has been great to see the energy and excitement take place and grow. If anyone had the opportunity to see one of our home games last year, I think you could see the strides we made with the fans and students and bringing extra seating for overflow crowds. I think we play an entertaining brand of basketball. Recruits have been attracted to it, our players enjoy playing it and our fans enjoy watching it.
On playing at Michigan and Boston College:
We have played Michigan since I've been here. We had a contract to play twice in Ann Arbor and once in Cambridge. It's another game that is going to be incredibly challenging with playing an opponent at that level, especially being a marquee program in the Big Ten.
We would love to keep playing Boston College each year, especially since they are so close and local. It brings a local rivalry and creates a buzz in Boston. (BC head coach Steve Donahue) has been great and he recognizes the importance in having local games, since he was a part of that with Cornell and Syracuse. We are hopeful and grateful that we are able to have that with BC and other schools that we are trying to create that with.