Harvard has a plethora of offensive weapons—from sharpshooters on the wings, like guard Laurent Rivard, to some of the Ancient Eight's best post players, like forwards Kyle Casey and Steve Moundou-Missi.
Point guard Siyani Chambers, a first-team All-Ivy player in his own right, said his situation is pretty good.
“All I have to do is find the right guy in the right moment and let them do the rest,” Chambers said.
But if some of his teammates are having an off night—like Casey and first-team All-Ivy swingman Wesley Saunders were on Saturday—Chambers is more than capable of picking up the slack.
On Saturday, Harvard overcame a double-digit first-half deficit at Princeton to earn its first win at Jadwin Gymnasium since 1989. Chambers led the way with 13 points, five rebounds, and eight assists. He also scored the go-ahead basket in the second half.
“I don't try to do anything different in any game or any situation,” Chambers said. “I believe I just have to go out there and do my job, do my role, push the pace, and make good decisions on offense. And if I do that, that's all the team needs.”
It was only fitting that Chambers, a self-professed pass-first point guard, was able to help out his team, considering all the help he says he has received over the years.
It started with his parents. While neither played basketball, as soon as Chambers showed an interest in the sport, they helped him pursue it seriously.
“They just went around and learned as much as possible as they could about basketball and tried to teach it to me while I was at practice,” Chambers said. “They started me off early, in the gym. Practice all the time, every day. Even when I didn't want to go, they made me go to the gym and practice.”
The Minnesota native helped his teams win state championships in high school and was ranked as a two-star recruit by ESPN. He said he was attracted to Harvard because of its academics. But when two Crimson rising seniors were forced to take a year-long leave of absence after being implicated in a cheating scandal, a green Chambers was suddenly thrust into the lineup as the starting point guard—in a conference traditionally dominated by older players.
He said he was nervous, but got some help from the expected sources—teammates and coaches—whom he credits with boosting his confidence. He also got help from one of the implicated seniors, 2012 second-team All-Ivy guard Brandyn Curry.
“Before games, after games, before practice, or basically anytime, he would call me, give me some pointers on what I could do better and things I was doing well,” Chambers said. “There's a feedback, and also encouragement is what I really think sparked my improvement last year.”
Chambers made history last season by becoming the first rookie to be named to the All-Ivy First Team. With Curry and Casey now back in the lineup, and Saunders, Rivard, and Moundou-Missi all having one more year of experience, the Crimson has been terrific all season—both on the court and, according to Chambers, off the court as well.
“Off the court, we do as many things as possible together,” he said. “This season is what you could ask for from a group of guys.”
Chambers is averaging 11 points and 4.7 assists per game. Both numbers are down from last season, but he is playing fewer minutes on a better Harvard team.
And now, in the season's penultimate weekend, Harvard could be in a position to clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title for the fourth straight season when it hosts Columbia Saturday night.
“When I was getting recruited, I felt Harvard had a program that was on the rise,” Chambers said. “I really definitely wanted to be a part of that.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Harvard forward Steve Moundou-Missi. Spectator regrets the error.