Men's Basketball Celebrates Ivy Championship at Annual Team Banquet; McNally, Wright Named Co-Captains for 2011-12

Men's Basketball Celebrates Ivy Championship at Annual Team Banquet; McNally, Wright Named Co-Captains for 2011-12

The Harvard men's basketball team set program records in wins (23), conference victories (12) and home wins (14) (Harvard Athletic Communications).

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BOSTON – The Harvard men's basketball team held its annual Awards Banquet Friday evening at the Harvard Club of Boston to celebrate its 2010-11 Ivy League championship. Boston Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn served as the featured speaker at the banquet, which was attended by members of the team, coaches, friends, family, administrators, alumni and media members.

Heinsohn spoke about teamwork and working together as teammates on the basketball court from his memories as a coach and player with the Boston Celtics. Heinsohn also touched on playing unselfish basketball for the good of the team and how Harvard emulated that style during the squad's historic run last season.

The Crimson received commemorative plaques at the banquet, honoring Harvard's first Ivy League title. Harvard boasted a 23-7 overall record and went 12-2 in Ivy League play, setting program records for wins and conference victories in a single season. The Crimson, under the tutelage of head coach Tommy Amaker, went 14-0 at home and earned a spot in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) for the first time in school history.

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.  Sophomore guard Brandyn Curry, who was the only Harvard player to log more than 1,000 minutes this season (1,017) was the inaugural recipient of the trophy.

Curry, an Academic All-Ivy League choice, earned All-Ivy League second-team honors and led the Crimson with 33.9 minutes per game. He was one of three Harvard players (Oliver McNally and Keith Wright) to start all 30 games and played 30 or more minutes in 27 contests. Curry paced the Ivy League and ranked 16th in the nation with 5.9 assists per game and averaged 9.3 points per contest.

The next award handed out was the Henry Zimmerman Free Throw Shooting Accuracy Award, which went to junior co-captain Oliver McNally, who made 100 of 108 attempts (.926) including a 36-for-36 stretch between Nov. 20 and Jan. 15. McNally, who established a new Harvard season record for free-throw percentage, ranked second in the country and was first in the Ivy League in foul shooting. McNally, a guard, started all 30 games and averaged 10.1 points per contest.

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 guard Christian Webster who started all 29 games he appeared in. Webster ranked second on the Crimson with 13.0 points poer game and hit three or more 3-pointers in a game on 10 occasions. He stood 13th in the nation in free-throw shooting (.894) and earned All-Ivy League honorable mention.

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. Sophomore guard Dee Giger and freshman guard Matt Brown shared the distinction. Giger appeared in 13 contests, averaging 2.6 minutes per game. Brown played in 21 games after serving as a member of the Harvard football team as a wide receiver and shot 37.5 percent from 3-point range during his rookie 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. Junior co-captain Keith Wright, who became the first Harvard player since 1984 to be named Ivy League Player of the Year, took home the award.

Wright, who led Harvard and was third in the Ivy League with 14.8 points per contest, garnered Associated Press (AP) All-America honorable mention, as well as Lou Henson All-America accolades. He paced the Crimson and was second in the Ancient Eight with 8.3 rebounds per contest and stood second in the Ivy with 12 double-doubles. Wright averaged 8.9 ppg and 4.6 rpg as a sophomore, improving his offense and defensive statistics dramatically during his junior campaign.

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. Wright also received this trophy after being a unanimous choice on the All-Ivy first team. Wright, who started all 30 games, was honored on the Rush The Court All-Ivy team and was tabbed to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District first team. He ranked 14th in the country in field-goal percentage (.584) and blocked 54 shots, which ranks second most in school history for a single season.  Wright also reached double digits in scoring in all but three games and scored in double figures in the final 15 games.

Following the award ceremony, coach Amaker announced that McNally and Wright will once again serve as co-captains of the Crimson for the 2011-12 campaign, becoming the 113th and 114th captains in program history. McNally and Wright are the first players to serve as captains in consecutive seasons since Jason Norman '05 in 2004-05.