Dee Giger pilfered Howard three times last night, going coast to coast and finishing at the rim off of two the steals (he got rejected by the rim once). Giger was everywhere, tallying those three steals and a block in only eight minutes on the Lavietes Pavilion court.
Harvard thrashed an overwhelmed Howard team, rolling to a 76-44 victory, allowing many of the folks near the end of coach Tommy Amaker’s bench, like Giger, to get some PT in the contest’s waning minutes.
The Crimson did not have their best shooting performance against the Bison, tossing up bricks for most of the first half and finishing the night 2-17 from three-point land. Even sharp shooting senior Laurent Rivard struggled, going 2-8 from deep. It didn’t matter. Harvard’s defense was suffocating, holding Howard to a paltry 31% from the field and turning the Bison over 19 times.
Meanwhile, Harvard was able to manufacture more than enough points thanks to 18 offensive rebounds and a steady stream of trips to the free throw line (they shot 38 freebies).
But the story of the game was Harvard’s tremendous defense. Under Tommy Amaker, Harvard has become one of the toughest teams in the nation to score on. They were terrific on the defensive end last winter and even better during their 26-5 campaign in 2011-12. This team could be even better than either of those teams on D.
Laurent Rivard, who can guard positions 1-4, is still a defensive rock for Harvard. Brandyn Curry and Kenyatta Smith, who were both out against Howard, are also both outstanding defensively. But perhaps the most important defensive piece for the Crimson is forward Kyle Casey. The freakishly athletic Casey was an absolute force in 13 minutes against Howard, wreaking havoc every time Howard moved the ball near the paint. He was joined in the starting lineup by forward Steve Mondou-Missi, another excellent defender.
Harvard was one of the most efficient offensive teams in college basketball last year and they should be again this year. But, with Casey and Curry back this season (they both missed last season after being implicated in Harvard’s cheating scandal), the kids from Cambridge should be as good defensively this year as they looked against Howard.
Harvard has multiple defensive looks they can throw at teams–they vexed Howard for a little while with their 2-3 zone. The Crimson also features a bench loaded with guys who can come in play stifling defense like Jonah Travis, Agunwa Okolie, and, as he showed last night, Dee Giger.