Harvard reaches 1st NCAA Tourney since 1946

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Harvard reaches 1st NCAA Tourney since 1946

From Comcast SportsNet
PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) -- A year after stealing the Ivy League title from Harvard with a last-second shot, Princeton gave the Crimson the crown and an NCAA berth, and took no joy in doing it. Ian Hummer had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Tigers to a 62-52 victory over Pennsylvania on Tuesday night, giving Harvard the league title and its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1946. "It was an interesting game coming in," said Princeton senior forward Patrick Saunders, who scored 10 points. "We don't have much love for either team. So it's definitely nice to get a win but it's kind of tough to swallow, knowing that our win puts Harvard in the tournament." Penn (19-12, 11-3) needed to win the game to tie Harvard (26-4, 12-2) for the regular-season championship and force a one-game playoff for the league's automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. However, the Quakers came out flat, fell behind by 17 points early in the first half and never got over the hump. It allowed Harvard to celebrate a year after Princeton and Douglas Davis dashed their hopes in a playoff game with a last-second game-winner. "We are thrilled and honored to have an opportunity to compete in the 2012 NCAA tournament," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said in a statement. "This is a tremendous moment for Harvard University, our basketball program and our community. Go Crimson!" Davis felt the same as Saunders. He took no joy in helping Harvard. However, he didn't want to help Penn, either. "I didn't feel right letting Penn win the Ivy League, or share the Ivy League title and win it on our home court," said Davis, who finished with 12 points. "This is a rivalry. Our rivalry with Penn goes way back. Harvard, they're good, but our rivalry is with Penn, so yeah. Harvard, yeah, they won the Ivy League, but Penn wasn't going to win it on our court." Princeton (19-11, 10-4) had some anxious moments in the second half, when Penn got to within 34-31 with 12:25 to play. Hummer then hit a 15-footer to ignite a 7-0 run and the Tigers closed out the game for their 17th straight league win at home. Penn coach Jerome Allen wasn't happy with the way his team played defensively and was disappointed to come up short of a title. "From the start of the game, (Princeton) really didn't have anything to play for other than to just be the spoilers," Allen said. "How can the team playing for nothing, play harder than the team that is supposedly playing for something. That's really what blew my mind. OK, the ball wasn't going in but defensively they just got whatever they wanted." Princeton shot 58.3 percent (21 of 36) for the game, including nearly 65 percent in the first half. Zack Rosen had 19 points on 8-of-24 shooting from the field for Penn. Miles Cartwright added 11 for the Quakers, who were held to 38.6 percent shooting from the field (22 of 57). "We blew our opportunity," Rosen said. "That's the bottom line. There is nothing past that to say." Hummer's jumper pushed the lead to 36-31 and T.J. Bray followed with a floater before Davis, playing in his final league contest, nailed a 3-pointer for a 41-31 advantage. Rosen sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a basket by Patrick Saunders to close the gap to 43-37, but the Quakers never got any closer. Princeton hit 11 of its first 15 shots and led by as many as 17 points in the first half before Rosen got the Quakers back in the game, scoring nine points in an 11-4 spurt to close the half. Penn had to work for almost every point and Rosen, who had 28 points in the Quakers' 82-67 win on Jan. 30, was the focal point of the Princeton defense. Penn's 17 first-half points were a season low and came on 8-of-24 shooting from the field. The Tigers finished the first half 11 of 17, or nearly 65 percent. Seven of those 11 baskets were layups, while three others came from long range. Hummer led the way with eight points.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics hoping to sign Horford, bring him to Durant meeting

Report: Celtics hoping to sign Horford, bring him to Durant meeting

The Celtics met with Al Horford Friday and it appears they’re trying to get him to sign before their meeting on Saturday with Kevin Durant.

Multiple outlets have already suggested that theory, but Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy tweeted late Friday that’s actually what the Celtics are attempting to do. It's similar to what the Suns tried last summer by signing Tyson Chandler and then bringing him to their meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge. They almost did have Aldridge signed, but he changed his mind over the 48 hours between his meeting and his decision.

Unfortunately for the Celtics, it sounds like Horford wants to take the weekend before deciding, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

If the Celtics are able to get Horford agree to a max contract Friday, it’d likely be a huge boost to their chances of signing Durant. But they might have to wait a bit.

OFFSEASON

Celtics "emerged as a front-runner" for Al Horford

Celtics "emerged as a front-runner" for Al Horford

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are poised to do the seemingly unthinkable: acquire an elite free agent in their prime. 

The Celtics are meeting with four-time all-star Al Horford tonight and as one league executive told CSNNE.com, Boston has emerged as a front-runner for his services after the Atlanta Hawks came to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard. 

And the Celtics will come armed with a four-year, $113 million max-salary offer for the 30-year-old Horford as well.   

In addition to the Celtics, Horford is also reportedly considering signing with the Houston Rockets.

Acquiring Horford would bolster the Celtics’ franchise on multiple levels. For starters, he would provide an upgrade roster-wise to a team whose progress has leveled out the last couple of seasons with first-round playoff exits.

Adding Horford greatly enhances the Celtics’ chances at making a playoff run that extends beyond just the first round. Adding Horford also provides the first real tangible sign that the days of Boston being perceived as no man’s land when it comes to free agents are in the past.

In addition, Horford’s leadership on the floor and inside the locker room can only strengthen a culture that’s deeply rooted in accountability.

But as the Celtics approach their recruitment of Horford with cautious optimism, they know all too well that they can’t afford to take anything involved in wooing him for granted.

While the Rockets may appear to be a team that Boston doesn’t have to worry too much about when it comes to Horford, there is one wild card franchise out there: Oklahoma City.

They’re the odds-on favorite to re-sign Kevin Durant, and adding a player like Horford to the roster could only strengthen their chances of keeping him long-term.

Oklahoma City has explored possible trade opportunities centered around Enes Kanter, which could go far in freeing up space to pursue Horford.

And as one of the six teams that Durant will meet with this weekend, the Celtics are well aware of the minefield that awaits them in trying to secure Horford as well as their top target, Durant.

The fact that Boston is on the short list for the top two free agents out there (Durant and Horford), speaks volumes as to how far this franchise has come from a perception standpoint in the eyes of the league’s best players.

Both Horford and Durant have talked in glowing terms about the Celtics franchise, head coach Brad Stevens and the players.

And the Celtics have made no secret about wanting both to eventually become Celtics, something that now stands as a legit possibility with Boston well in the mix for both players.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN

Bruins make official free agent signings of Liles, Nash, Khudobin

Bruins make official free agent signings of Liles, Nash, Khudobin

The Bruins made a number of signings official on the first day of NHL free agency on Friday along with the big prize in hard-hitting, productive center David Backes.

Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin signed a two-year deal worth $1.2 million per season to return as a goaltending tandem with Tuukka Rask as they were back in a highly successful 2012-13 NHL season.

Hustling, grinding fourth line forward Riley Nash was signed to a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the Bruins as well, and had nine goals and 22 points in 64 games for the Carolina Hurricanes last season in an energy forward role. In his five-year NHL career, Nash has played in 242 games, amassing 31 goals and 50 assists for 81 points with 69 penalty minutes, including a career-high 10 goals a couple of years ago with the Hurricanes.

The 36-year-old John-Michael Liles signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Bruins after arriving from Carolina at the NHL trade deadline last spring. Liles appeared in 17 games and notched six assists along with a minus-6 rating for the Bruins in 2015-16 after being acquired for Anthony Camara, a 2016 third-round pick and a 2017 fifth-round pick on February 29, 2016. Prior to joining up with Boston, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Liles played in all 64 games for Carolina, recording six goals and nine assists for 15 points with 16 penalty minutes.

“We went out to identify a primary target in David Backes as a center, right wing candidate. He provides depth and balance to our lineup, as did Riley Nash. And Anton Khudobin addressed an area that we seemed to have chased for a little while and possibly with Malcolm’s [Subban] injury we needed to address that for the next couple of seasons. John-Michael Liles is a player that we acquired last year that really added a lot to the mobility and the transition game and we’re excited about bringing him back,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “Tim Schaller was a local boy at Providence College that we went out and identified another size, strength, left-shot, penalty kill and continued to add depth. Tyler Randell emerged last year was on our roster all year long, contributed and was a real hard-nosed player, sticks up for his teammates, was able to contribute goals, albeit not necessarily in the lineup every night, bringing balance. And Tommy Cross and the leadership qualities he brings to Providence for younger players to continue to develop.

“He found himself playing in NHL games, acquainted himself very well, just a real quality person across the board. So I think the overall philosophy of today and going into the free agent period was to address some needs and we did that. But we’ve created what I think is a real internal competition for our younger players to step up and emerge around what I think we’ve added to the core group of our players. They should be excited about this opportunity.”

Tommy Cross, Tyler Randell and Tim Schaller all signed one-year, two-way deals with the Bruins for an NHL value of $600,000, but are all expected to play the bulk of the season at the AHL level barring anything unexpected. 

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs