The Harvard men's basketball team will return to the court following a two-week break for final exams at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. Harvard will open the tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 22 against Brigham Young at 4:30 p.m. EST live on ESPNU.
This will mark Harvard's third appearance at an in-season tournament under Tommy Amaker, The Thomas G. Stemberg '71 Family Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Basketball, after having won the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis in 2011 and the Great Alaska Shootout in 2013.
About the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic
Entering its seventh year, the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic will be played December 22, 23 and 25 at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. Previous winners of the tournament include George Washington (2014), Iowa State (2013), Arizona (2012), Kansas State (2011), Butler (2010) and USC (2009).
All 12 games of the tournament will be broadcast by the ESPN family of networks, including the championship game which will air on ESPN2 Christmas night. ESPN2 will also televise the third-place game and one of the two semifinal matchups, with ESPNU broadcasting at least seven games. Either ESPNU of ESPN3 will air the remaining two games of the tournament.
Harvard's first-round matchup with BYU is slated for Tuesday, December 22 at 4:30 p.m. EST on ESPNU. Harvard's half of the bracket also includes Auburn and New Mexico, which will play prior to the Crimson and Cougars at 2:30 p.m. EST on ESPNU. The matchups on the other half of the bracket include host Hawaii versus Northern Iowa (Dec. 23 at 1 a.m. EST on ESPNU) and No. 3/3 Oklahoma versus Washington State (Dec. 22 at 11 p.m. EST on ESPNU).
Last Time Out
The Harvard men's basketball team fended off a second-half comeback on the road at Boston University on Dec. 8, holding on for a 75-69 victory.
Corey Johnson paced the offense with a career-high 18 points, connecting on 6-of-11 attempts from 3-point range. Agunwa Okolie followed with a season-high 15 points, while Zena Edosomwan finished a point shy of a double-double with nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Patrick Steeves came off the bench and added 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Harvard shot 52.6 percent (10-of-19) from 3-point range and 47.4 percent from the floor. The Crimson defense, meanwhile, stifled the Terriers, holding them to 23.5 percent (4-of-17) from 3, including an 0-for-7 mark in the first half.
Creating a Winning Culture
Harvard has posted a 142-49 (.743) overall record since the start of the 2009-10 season, ranking as the 16th-highest win percentage in the country over the last six-plus seasons (as of games played Dec. 15).
Harvard has posted a 63-6 (.913) record at Lavietes Pavilion since the start of the 2010-11 season, representing the 10th highest home-court win percentage in the country over the last five-plus seasons (as of games played Dec. 15).
Harvard's appearance in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic will be the team's third in-season tournament under Tommy Amaker.
The Crimson won the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis in 2011, taking out Central Florida in the championship game, 59-49, after knocking off No. 20 Florida State, 46-41, and Utah, 75-47.
Harvard also won the 2013 Great Alaska Shootout with a 71-50 victory over TCU in the title game. The Crimson reached the final with a 76-64 triumph over Green Bay and a 68-60 win over Denver.
Harvard held each of its first six opponents to under 40.0 percent shooting, the program's longest streak under Tommy Amaker, and leads the Ivy League in both scoring defense (63.6 ppg) and opponent field goal percentage (37.9%).
Under Amaker, Harvard has held six opponents to fewer than 40 points, including MIT this season, and seven opponents to less than 30.0 percent shooting, including MIT and Bryant this season.
On the Glass
Harvard is averaging 37.8 rebounds per game and has pulled down at least 40 boards in a game five times. Under Tommy Amaker, the Crimson has never averaged more than 34.2 rebounds per game for a season (2014-15) and has never had more than seven 40-rebound games in a year (2007-08, 2014-15).
From Way Down Town
Harvard has made at least five 3-pointers in all nine games this season, the team's longest streak since going 12-straight games during the 2012-13 season (Nov. 11 - Jan. 12).
Harvard made 10 3-pointers against both Bryant and Boston University, marking the most 3-pointers made by the team since hitting 12 versus Penn on Feb. 1, 2014.
Weisner Perez was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Dec. 7 after averaging 14.0 ppg and 5.5 rpg in a pair of games at Northeastern and No. 4/6 Kansas. Perez is the first member of the Crimson to earn the award since Siyani Chambers '16-17 did so on March 11, 2013.
Freshmen on the Floor
Freshmen Tommy McCarthy and Corey Johnson made their first career starts versus MIT, becoming the first pair of freshmen to start a season opener for the Crimson since Max Kenyi, Oliver McNally '12 and Keith Wright '12 in 2008. Classmates Balsa Dragovich and Weisner Perez also saw the court against the Engineers, representing the first time since 2009 that at least four freshmen played in a season opener; Kyle Casey '13-14, Brandyn Curry '13-14, Dee Giger '13-14 and Christian Webster '13.
In The Spotlight
18 of Harvard's 30 games have been picked up for national or regional television broadcasts, including 11 games on the ESPN family of networks. Including this season, the Crimson will have played on TV 83 times since 2010-11.
Harvard sold out its first two home games verus MIT and UMass, marking the first time under head coach Tommy Amaker that the Crimson has sold out its first two home games of the year. Harvard has played in front of a sold-out Lavietes Pavilion crowd 31 times since 2010-11.
FIBA U19 World Championships
Chris Egi, Corey Johnson and Weisner Perez competed at the highest level over the summer, representing their respective countries at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships in Greece.
Egi, who was appointed as a captain by his coaching staff, paired with Johnson to lift Team Canada to a fifth-place finish, the country's highest finish at the competition.
Perez, meanwhile, helped the Dominican Republic finish 13th in its first appearance since 1983.
Edosomwan in China
Junior Zena Edosomwan spent three weeks this summer in China with the WILSA program hosting basketball camps and discussing college options with local youths.
On The Sidelines
Head coach Tommy Amaker's 164 wins at Harvard rank second all-time in Harvard coaching annals and are the seventh-most in the Ivy League since the conference began competition in 1956. His 78 Ivy League victories, meanwhile, have him tied with former Cornell and current Penn head coach Steve Donahue (2000-10) for 10th place in conference history.
Frank Sullivan, 1991-2007
Amaker has led Harvard to five-straight Ivy League championships, tying him with former Penn coach Bob Weinhauer (1977-82) for the third most titles in Ancient Eight history.
Amaker's .659 win percentage (164-84), meanwhile, ranks first among Harvard coaches who have spent at least two seasons at the helm of the team.
Tommy Amaker, 2007-present
Harvard will be well represented in the professional ranks this season as six former members of the Crimson continue their playing careers.
Beating The Odds
The Crimson is 4-10 against ranked opponents since 2008-09, marking the only four wins over ranked opponents in program history.
Harvard has gone 86-51 in non-conference play under head coach Tommy Amaker, including seven-straight seasons with a winning out-of-conference mark.
Harvard owns a 13-21 record against power conference opponents under Tommy Amaker. The Crimson defeated Boston College in six straight seasons from 2009-2014, and has also topped California, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida State, Michigan, TCU and Utah during Amaker's tenure.