Harvard senior forward Dan Clemente has been shooting down Ivy League opponents all season. This weekend he has his sights set on the Bulldogs, as the men’s basketball team looks to sweep its season series with the Crimson Saturday night.
The 6-foot-6-inch Clemente earned Ivy League Player of the Week Honors last week by averaging 24.5 points per game during Harvard’s win over Pennsylvania and narrow loss to Princeton. He is second in the Ivy League in scoring, averaging 18.9 points per game.
Clemente attributes his success to his versatility and overall excellent shooting ability.
“When I am in the post, guys are worried about my fadeaway, which sometimes opens up a hole to the basket and when I am on the perimeter, if I just give a little pump fake, the same thing happens,” Clemente said.
The threat Clemente poses opens up scoring opportunities for some of the other Cantabs as well.
“When guys are worried about me getting an open look, it frees up my teammates for some easy baskets,” he said.
But things have not always been easy for the Albany, N.Y., native. Last year, he had a nagging eye injury that sidelined him for a number of games in the middle of the season.
“I don’t like to think about [the injury] that much,” he said. “I learned a lot about myself as a person, and it made me appreciate the little things a lot more. I was just happy to be able to get back for the end of the season.”
And just like he did at the end of last season, Clemente has come on strong throughout this season. In addition to being second in the league in scoring, he is second in defensive rebounds and is fourth in both overall rebounding and three-point shooting.
But Yale was able to hold Clemente in check earlier this season in their 85-83 overtime defeat of the Crimson at Harvard Jan. 12. The Elis limited Clemente to just nine points in only 24 minutes of play because of foul trouble.
“He had an off night shooting the ball,” Yale head coach James Jones said. “With guys like Clemente, sometimes if they miss a few shots early they get out of sync.”
Jones knows the Bulldogs face a challenge this Saturday night in trying to stop Clemente.
“He displays a level of intensity and leadership that is unmatched by anyone in this league,” Jones said. “He will be one of the best players in the history of Harvard basketball when he graduates.”
But the Bulldogs think they can stop him again.
“We can try different people — we have a few different players of different sizes who can play on him, and as long as we work at it, we should be in good shape,” Jones said.
Clemente is not going to make it easy, however, as he and the Crimson are out to avenge their loss to Yale.
“I’d be lying to you if I said we don’t think about the Yale loss,” Clemente said. “It was a tough one to lose.”
But Clemente is quick to add that they will be playing just as hard as every other game they have played this year.
“We know we still have a chance at the Ivy title, and we are going to keep fighting,” he said.
Jones, who is well aware of the threat Clemente poses, may have said it best.
“I can’t wait until he graduates,” Jones said.