I probably shouldn’t be excited about this, but I am: Harvard will be without Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, the school’s senior co-captain stars, for the upcoming basketball season.
These are colossal, potentially season-ruining losses for the Crimson. Casey led the team in scoring last season, averaging 11.4 points per game while Curry led in assists, averaging five, as Harvard won its first-ever outright Ivy title and first NCAA Tournament berth since 1946.
Casey and Curry opted to take a leave of absence from the school in the wake of a cheating scandal that has implicated 125 students, many of whom are members of the football, basketball and baseball teams. Harvard revealed on Aug. 30 that the school was investigating the possibility that almost half the students in a government course, Introduction to Congress, had cheated on their take-home final exam. The university’s official statement said the answers on the exams reflected plagiarism and collaboration that were expressly forbidden by the test’s instructions.
Harvard’s most severe punishment for cheating is a one-year leave of absence from the school, which is rough for students but brutal for student-athletes, who lose a year of NCAA eligibility if they take a leave of absence after they’ve played a game in the season.
Casey and Curry, by withdrawing early, preserve one year of eligibility, so they may save the Crimson’s chances at a future Ivy title next year. This year , however, is another story.
Harvard was unanimously considered a favorite to three-peat as Ivy champs this year. Once the news of Casey’s and Curry’s withdrawals were announced, Ivy Hoops Online tweeted, “From a purely Bball perspective, the season feels wide open now. [Princeton] probably out front but anyone could crack the top half this year. #fun.”
If you’re Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, you’re probably thinking you’re in trouble. If you’re Penn coach Jerome Allen, you’re thinking this is a golden opportunity for the Quakers.
Penn graduated four seniors — most notably star guards Zack Rosen and Tyler Bernardini — and the rest of the team was made up of sophomores and freshmen a year ago. But last year’s youth is this year’s experience, with Miles Cartwright starting 31 games and Fran Dougherty playing in 33 throughout the 2011-12 season. They come in with an edge over the Harvard underclassmen, and players who didn’t get court time last season will have to step up.
Princeton and Yale, two of the other contenders from last season, are also salivating over the chance to dethrone Harvard, and the Quakers can’t count them out either. But as far as Allen and his team should be concerned, this is an opportunity to get back on top of the league standings they can’t squander.
ANNA STRONG is a senior English major from Philadelphia and is former sports editor of The Summer Pennsylvanian. She can be reached at email@example.com.