Harvard vs. Minnesota
Harvard will face Minnesota for the fourth time in program history on Saturday. (Gil Talbot)
Harvard women's basketball opens its 43rd season Saturday, as the Crimson hit the road to face Minnesota in a 3:00 p.m. matchup. The game will be streamed live on BTN Plus ($) via BTN2Go.com.
HARVARD AGAINST THE BIG TEN
The Crimson last played against an opponent from the Big Ten in 2012-13, when Harvard played at Michigan on Nov. 23, 2012. The Crimson fell to the Wolverines, 72-61 in a game in which it led midway through the second half. Harvard's last win against a Big Ten opponent came on Nov. 26, 1999, when the Crimson defeated Ohio State, 66-52, in the opening game of the Harvard Invitational at Lavietes Pavillion.
The Crimson went 14-14 overall last season, earning a selection to the WNIT Tournament. The appearance marked the sixth appearance over the last eight years in the tournament for the Crimson and the program's 12th postseason appearance, the most of any Ivy League team. Harvard returns two starters and nine letterwinners from a year ago, including senior co-captain Destiny Nunley, who averaged 6.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as the team's top reserve player.
Harvard women's basketball was selected third in the Ivy League Preseason Media Poll. Harvard has finished in the top three of the Ivy League standings every year since the 2006-07 campaign (10 years). The Crimson earned 104 points in the poll, just behind Princeton, picked second in the poll with 110 points, and Penn, picked first with 136 points. Harvard finished the 2015-16 campaign in third place at 9-5 in the Ivy League, behind Princeton (12-2) and conference regular season champion Penn (13-1).
Harvard is 20-22 all-time in season openers and 17-17 under head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. The Crimson opened the 2015-16 campaign against Maine at Lavietes Pavillion, falling 64-53.
IT'S UP, AND IT'S GOOD
Harvard broke the record for consecutive games with at least one three-pointer against Dartmouth last year (1/24/15). The Crimson has made at least one three-point field goal in 211-consecutive games dating back to 2008-09. The previous streak (172) began during the 1989-90 season and concluded in 1996-97.
CAPTAINING THE SHIP
Seniors Taylor Finley and Destiny Nunley were named captains for 2016-17.
Finley, a native of Edina, Minn., recovered from offseason hip surgery to become a key reserve player for the Crimson in 2015-16. She appeared in 23 games and logged a season high 24 minutes against Rhode Island on Nov. 21, 2015.
Nunley, a Dallas-area Native, was Harvard's top reserve last season, posting 6.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. She recorded a season-high 15 points against Brown on Feb. 27 and had seven double-digit scoring efforts on the year.
SOPHOMORES LOOK TO TAKE STEP
Harvard's sophomore guards had an immediate impact on the program as freshmen, as Madeline Raster started 25 of 28 games, Nani Redford started in 16 games, and Sydney Skinner played a major role with 12 starts and 19.8 minutes per game. The trio combined for 15.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. Raster finished fourth on the team in points scored (6.7 ppg) and earned Rookie of the Week honors Feb. 15. Skinner earned Rookie of the Week honors Feb. 29.
MEET THE FRESHMEN
Harvard is set to welcome four student-athletes from the Class of 2020 to the program this season. The class, which spans three states and includes one from France, consists of a pair of guards and forwards:
Freshman Guard Mackenzie Barta
Maple Grove, Minn.
Four-time letterwinnner and three-year starter at Maple Grove Senior … Served as a captain as a junior and senior... Finished third all-time in Maple Grove history with 1,205 points, set the single-game record with 37 points as a senior... Minnesota Miss Basketball nominee.
Freshman Guard Katie Benzan
Five-year starter and two-year captain at Noble and Greenough School... Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year…McDonald's All-American nominee … 2,000-point scorer... Brother, Pat, plays basketball at Holy Cross.
Freshman Forward Jeannie Boehm
Four-year starter at New Trier and captained the team as a senior…Named a McDonald's All-American...Second McDonald's All-American in Harvard and Ivy League history…Naismith Trophy Mid-Season Team...Naismith All-American honorable mention... Ranked No. 22 nationally by Prospects Nation and No. 81 by ESPN...Finished career with 1,872 points, 1,169 rebounds, 375 blocks, 254 assists, 142 steals and shot 57.1 percent from the floor...Brother, Pete, lettered one year in basketball at Harvard.
Freshman Forward Maria Guramare
Three-year starter at Marcelin Berthelot …Played for three seasons for French National Institute of Sport…Selected to the South of France regional team… Competed on the French U15 and U16 national teams...Father, Marin, played rugby professionally for 25 years.
CRIMSON COLORED IVY
Since women's basketball joined the Ivy League in 1974-75, the Crimson owns a 637-469 record, tops of all Ancient Eight schools. Harvard is the only Ivy League school with a winning record against all other Ivies.
School Overall Wins Harvard vs.
Brown 512 48-34
Columbia 246 59-3
Cornell 403 64-11
Dartmouth 569 45-33
Penn 501 49-28
Princeton 635 40-38
Yale 491 50-30
*as of November 5, 2016
The winningest coach in Ivy League basketball history with 546 career victories, head coach Kathy Delaney-Smith passed former Princeton head coach Pete Carril (514) for most wins by an Ancient Eight coach on either the men's or women's side during the 2013-14 season. Delaney-Smith also owns 322 career wins in the conference – the most of any men's or women's coach – with her 300th coming against Yale Feb. 8, 2014.
Delaney-Smith, in her 35th season at the helm of the Crimson, earned her 500th win in 2013-14, joining a group of 28 active coaches in Division I with at least 500 wins. She is also one of four active Division I head coaches to spend 35-plus years at one institution.
• Minnesota returns three of five starters and 10 letterwinners from its 2015-16 team that finished 20-12 and advanced to the second round of the WNIT. Last season the Gophers set new program records by making a Big Ten-leading 292 3-pointers, and averaging 83.6 points per game.
• The Gophers will be led by junior guard Carlie Wagner (18.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.6 apg), an All-Big Ten Second Team selection, and seniors Karley Barnes (3.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Joanna Hedstrom (6.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg).
• Harvard has lost all three meetings in the all-time series. The two teams last met on Dec. 10, 2011 as part of the Best Buy Classic at Williams Arena, with the Gophers earning a 79-53 victory over the Crimson. Emma Golen, led Harvard with 13 points while Brogan Berry and Christine Clark each added 11 points. Berry nearly had a triple-double, adding eight assists and grabbing seven rebounds.
• Head coach Marlene Stollings enters her third year at Minnesota and sixth overall as a head coach. Stollings came to Minnesota after a two-year stint at VCU, which was preceded by her first head coaching job at Winthop. Stollings became the second-fastest coach in Minnesota women's basketball history to reach 40 wins and holds a 43-22 record at Minnesota.