April 24, 2013
Harvard Men's Basketball Celebrates NCAA Tournament Win, Ivy League Title During Annual Team Banquet
The Harvard men's basketball team has won three straight Ivy League titles (Gil Talbot).
BOSTON -- The Harvard men's basketball team held its annual awards banquet Wednesday evening at the Harvard Club of Boston to celebrate its 2012-13 Ivy League championship, as well as the team's first NCAA tournament victory in program history.
The event was attended by members of the team, coaches, friends, family, administrators, alumni and media members.
The Crimson received commemorative championship plaques at the banquet, honoring Harvard's third straight Ivy League crown. The team went 20-10 overall, winning at least 20 games for the fourth consecutive year, and posted an 11-3 mark in Ivy League action. Harvard, under the leadership of head coach Tommy Amaker, went 13-1 at home, advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season for the first time in school history and recorded its first win over a top-10 team, downing No. 3 seed New Mexico (No. 10 in AP poll), 68-62, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
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 is presented annually to the Harvard player who plays the most minutes, exemplifying Tom's passion, commitment and dedication. Freshman point guard Siyani Chambers led Harvard with 1,134 minutes played and was one of two players to start all 30 games.
Chambers, who became the first freshman in conference history to be named to the All-Ivy first team, was tabbed the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. He averaged 38.3 minutes per game, good for first in the conference and fourth in the nation, and was the nation's leader among freshmen in minutes played. He stood first in the Ivy League and among the nation's rookies with 5.7 assists per game and his 171 assists rank seventh most for a single-season in team history.
The following award handed out was the Henry Zimmerman Free Throw Shooting Accuracy Award, which went to junior co-captain Laurent Rivard. He sank 56-of-67 free-throw attempts on the season (.836) and was tabbed All-Ivy League honorable mention. Rivard ranks second in program history with 207 career 3-pointers and made 80 treys this year to set a Harvard single-season record. He stood third on the Crimson with 10.3 points per game, was fifth in the conference with 35.4 minutes per contest and played in all 30 games, startng 29.
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 sophomore forward Steve Moundou-Missi. An All-Ivy League honorable mention choice Moundou-Missi played in all 30 games, starting five and averaged 7.9 points per game, while leading Harvard with 5.1 rebounds per contest. During conference action, Moundou-Missi shot 64.1 percent from the field, the highest in the league, and scored 10.7 points per game in the 14 Ancient Eight contests.
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. Senior co-captain Christian Webster was presented with this award. Webster, who is Harvard's all-time winningest player with 90 victories, averaged 8.4 points per game overall and in Ivy League action this season.
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. Sophomore center Kenyatta Smith earned this distinction after leading Harvard and ranking second in the Ivy League with 2.1 blocks per game.
Smith played in 28 contests, starting 15, and averaged 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game overall. He made 59 blocks on the year, tying the program record for a single season, and set a team record for a single game with 10 rejections, while also scoring a career-high 20 points against Penn Feb. 15.
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. Sophomore guard Wesley Saunders and freshman point guard Siyani Chambers shared the honor.
Saunders, who was named to the All-Ivy League first team, led Harvard and the Ivy League with 16.2 points per game and was third with 1.8 steals per contest. He reached double figures in scoring in 29 games and was second in the Ancient Eight in field-goal shooting (.524). His 55 steals on the season were the seventh most in team history, and he averaged 37.3 minutes per game, which ranked third in the conference and 11th in the country. Saunders was named Ivy League Player of the Week five times and was also tabbed to the USBWA and NABC All-District teams.
Chambers shot 81.4 percent from the foul line and reached double digits in scoring 21 times, while averaging 12.4 points per contest. Chambers garnered six Ivy Rookie of the Week awards and was named to the NABC All-District first team. A nominee for the Bob Cousy Award, Chambers was selected as the Best Mid-Major Freshman by Yahoo Sports.
In addition to those awards, senior co-captain Christian Webster was presented with a commemorative basketball, honoring his 1,000-point career milestone, which he achieved against New Mexico in the NCAA tournament March 21, 2013. Webster played in all 30 games this season, starting 24 and was an All-Ivy League honorable mention choice as a sophomore in 2010-11. Webster concluded his four-year tenure in Cambridge second in Harvard history with 117 games played, fifth with 176 career 3-pointers and 28th with 1,016 career points.
Coach Amaker also received a specialized basketball for earning his 100th victory at Harvard, which came against Rice at Lavietes Pavilion Jan. 5, 2013. Amaker, who was named the Clarence "Big House" Gaines College Basketball Coach of the Year, was also tabbed a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award and was selected as the NABC District 13 Coach of the Year. A 2013 New England Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Amaker has helped Harvard win at least 20 games in four straight seasons and has guided the team to three consecutive Ivy League titles and back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances. He ranks fourth in Harvard history with 112 victories in Cambridge and has led the squad to a 38-2 record at home over the last three years.