The Harvard men's basketball team won it second straight Ivy League title in 2011-12 (Gil Talbot).
BOSTON -- The Harvard men's basketball team held its annual Awards Banquet Tuesday evening at the Harvard Club of Boston to celebrate its 2011-12 Ivy League championship, as well as the team's first NCAA tournament berth since 1946.
The Crimson received commemorative plaques at the banquet, honoring Harvard's second straight Ivy League title. Harvard boasted a 26-5 overall record and went 12-2 in Ivy League play, setting a program record for wins in a single season for the third straight year. The Crimson, under the tutelage of head coach Tommy Amaker, went 11-1 at home, won the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament and earned the first national ranking in team history, reaching as high as No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 22 in the AP poll.
The six major awards, which were voted on by team members, were also announced. The first varsity award handed out was the Thomas G. Stemberg '71, MBA '73 Iron Man Award. The award, which is brand new this year, is presented annually to the Harvard player who plays the most minutes, exemplifying Tom's passion, commitment and dedication. Senior co-captain Oliver McNally led Harvard with 945 minutes played or 30.5 minutes per game.
One of four Harvard players to start all 31 games this winter, McNally became the Crimson's all-time games played leader, having appeared in 118 contests during his four seasons in Cambridge. McNally averaged 7.3 points per game overall and 7.9 points per game in Ivy contests, while serving as co-captain for the second straight season. He reached double figures in scoring seven times and ranked second in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5).
Next was the Floyd S. Wilson Sportsmanship Award, presented annually to the Harvard player whose respect for sportsmanship recalls the manner and values of Floyd Wilson, head coach of Harvard from 1954 through 1968. That award went to junior guard Brandyn Curry. An Academic All-Ivy League and All-Ivy second team honoree, Curry, who started all 31 games, paced the Ancient Eight in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6). He led Harvard with 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game and moved up to sixth in program history with 424 career assists. Curry, who stood fourth in the Ivy League in assists this season, averaged 7.9 points per game overall and 8.0 points per contest in Ivy action. Curry handed out five or more assists in a game 19 times and reached double digits in scoring on 11 occasions.
Up next was the John Harnice '84 Spirit Award, which is presented to the player who best exemplifies John's spirit, dedication, and concern for his fellow man. Freshman guard Corbin Miller and freshman forward Steve Moundou-Missi were each presented with this award. Miller, who played in 28 games, made 45.6 percent of his 3-point attempts (26-of-57) and averaged 4.7 points per game in Ivy League contests. He tallied 13 points in a win over Utah at the Battle 4 Atlantis Nov. 24 and later scored a career-best 17 points in a key conference victory at Penn Feb. 10.
Moundou-Missi, who appeared in all 31 contests, averaged 5.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in conference play. He also averaged 4.9 points per contest overall and was honored as the Ivy League Rookie of the Week Jan. 30, after scoring 10 points at Yale Jan. 27 and grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking a career-best four shots at Brown Jan. 28.
Next was the Hamilton Fish '10 Award, presented annually to the Most Improved Player on the Harvard men's basketball team. The award is named for the former Harvard football All-America, whose commitment to improving himself and the lives of others was evidenced throughout his life. Fish was a hero in the First World War, and later served as a distinguished congressman from New York. Freshman guard/forward Wesley Saunders received this distinction after playing in 30 games and averaging 3.3 points per contest during his rookie season.
Saunders went 5-of-6 from the floor for 10 points against Penn Feb. 25 and dished out a career-high five assists in the victory at Cornell March 3, which clinch the Crimson's seconds straight Ivy League crown. For the season, Saunders shot 50.9 percent from the field (29-of-57).
Finally, the Raymond P. Lavietes '36 Most Valuable Player Award was presented. Named for the former standout and loyal supporter of Harvard's athletic programs, Ray Lavietes was a model of generosity, mentoring, friendship and philanthropy. His mantra was quality of life for players at all levels. Junior forward Kyle Casey was named MVP after leading the Crimson with 11.4 points per game, which ranked 11th in the Ivy League. Casey, who started all 31 games, was second on the team with 5.4 rebounds per game and averaged a team-high 11.7 points per game in conference action.
Casey, who earned All-Ivy first-team accolades, as well as USBWA and NABC All-District honors, reached double digits in scoring 18 times and ranked fourth in the Ancient Eight in field goal percentage (.512, 126-of-246). Casey added a double-double in the win over Saint Joseph's Dec. 31 (26 points, 10 rebounds) and now stands fifth in Harvard history with 90 career blocks.
In addition to these awards, senior co-captain Keith Wright was presented with a commemorative basketball, honoring his 1,000-career point milestone, which he achieved at Fordham Jan. 3, 2012. Wright, who recently participated in the NABC All-Star Game at the Final Four in New Orleans, started all 31 games and was tabbed to the All-Ivy League second team. A USWBA and NABC All-District choice, Wright led Harvard and was second in the Ivy League with 8.1 rebounds per game, while ranking second on the Crimson with 10.6 points per contest. Wright, who was honored as the College Insider Ivy League Player of the Year, concluded his Harvard career first in school history with 149 blocks, 16th with 1,178 points and fifth with 743 rebounds.
Coach Amaker also received a specialized basketball for earning his 250th career victory against Seattle Dec. 4, 2011. Amaker, who was named the NABC and USBWA District Coach of the Year, was also tabbed a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award and the Hugh Durham Award. Amaker, who has helped Harvard to three straight 20 win seasons, has guided the Crimson to a 92-56 overall record in five years with the program. Amaker, who was also tabbed the College Insider Ivy League Coach of the Year, has also coached Harvard to three straight postseasons, as well as the program's first two Ivy titles and the team's first NCAA tournament appearance since 1946.