Harvard, despite an undergraduate of enrollment of just over 7,000 students, has a very rich history in basketball.
Basketball was introduced on campus in 1900 by John Kirkland Clark. The program went 11-8 in their first season, and hit the double figures in wins twice more in that decade (11-5; 1904-05, 12-4; 1905-06).
Despite Harvard hoops early success, the basketball program became extinct in 1909 and did not return to the school until 1920. Harvard called upon Edward Wachter, a successful coach and “Dean of U.S. Basketball Shooters,” to help rebuild the program. Wachter did just that, coaching at Harvard for 13 seasons, nine of which were winning seasons. Harvard’s 1921-22 team had an especially successful campaign with a record of 16-6 and a sweep against rival Yale.
Several fans of Harvard hoops will agree that one of the school’s finest teams participated in the 1945-46 season. The team was coached by Floyd S. Stahl and captained by Wyndol Gray.
Gray was especially gifted as a player and would later suit up for the NBA’s Boston Celtics and St. Louis Hawks. The 1945-46 team finished 19-3, which still stands as the school record for wins.
In 1983-84, Harvard hoops achieved an NCAA record for free throw shooting as a team, shooting an amazing 82.2% from the line. The record still stands more than two decades later, and is quite possibly the greatest achievement as a team for Harvard basketball.
Over the past several seasons, Harvard has established itself as one of the Ivy’s most successful programs. Harvard features the third-best basketball record in the Ivy League since 1995-96, including a 17-9 campaign in 1996-97.
Harvard basketball has since seen some very good teams, players, and coaches.
Merle McClung (All-Ivy first team, Rhodes Scholar), Dale Dover, Tony Jenkins, James Brown (Harvard Hall of Fame), Floyd Lewis (Harvard Hall of Fame), Don Fleming (3x All-Ivy first team), Joe Carrabino (school all-time scoring leader), Ralph James (only player to lead team in scoring four straight years), Tim Hill (school all-time assists leader), and Matt Stehle (2x All-Ivy first team) are among the greatest players ever to suit up for Harvard.
The basketball in Harvard has also included players who have gone on to achieve greatness in other areas: such as Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park) and former vice-president Al Gore.
Harvard has also witnessed some fantastic coaches including the previously mentioned Edward Wachter, Tom “Satch” Sanders (member of eight world championships while with the Celtics), Mike Jarvis, and K.C. Jones.
Harvard is currently coached by Tommy Amaker, who previously served as the head coach at Michigan and Seton Hall. The Crimson went 21-8 in 2009-10, and were participants in the CIT postseason tournament.