DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK
Half a year later, Smith entered the season as the squad’s starting center. His defensive presence formed the fulcrum of the team’s defense the year before; with a strong rim protector behind them, perimeter guards played in the face of their marks, confident in the help coming behind them.
He defended big men well, taking on consecutive seven-footers—New Mexico’s Alex Kirk and Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski—in the tournament.
But then the injury bug struck. A stress reaction became a hairline fracture with overuse.
Five days before the season opener against Holy Cross, Smith learned that he’d have to sit out indefinitely. Taking a redshirt season wasn’t a possibility for the junior.
“I don’t know if I was so eager to take the rest of the year off, honestly,” Smith said. “These guys have done some incredible things on the court and with team chemistry, and that is something I want to be a part of.”
His teammates are eagerly awaiting his return. When he entered the Dartmouth game, the entire bench gave the junior a standing ovation. On Monday, Saunders called Smith a “game changer.”
For a team that hasn’t had its full lineup since summer scrimmages—co-captain Brandyn Curry and Saunders have both missed time—Smith’s return to the court is symbolic, coming at the beginning of the Ivy stretch run that will see the team try to realize its immense potential.
For the third time, the center will try to lift a program whose history in the classroom dwarfs its prowess on the court. As Smith comes back from injury, his minutes are uncertain, but if history holds, his presence will continue to be felt.
—Staff writer David Freed can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twtter at @CrimsonDPFreed.
This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections:
CORRECTION: Feb. 3, 2013
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the outcome of the Nov. 13, 2012 men's basketball game against the University of Massachusetts. In fact, Harvard lost the game 67-64. The article also incorrectly stated the round in which Jeff Withey was drafted into the NBA. In fact, he was a second-round pick.