Linsanity, 2004

Lin, in the last half-minute, leads Palo Alto boys to win
San Jose Mercury News, February 13, 2004

Jeremy Lin scored six points in the final 30 seconds, lifting host Palo Alto, the fourth-ranked boys basketball team in the Central Coast Section according to the Mercury News, to a 49-46 victory over Gunn in a Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division game Thursday.
The Vikings (22-3, 10-1) were down by three when Lin, a sophomore point guard, hit from long range to tie the score. He then stole the ball, was fouled and hit two free throws. Another free throw near the end sealed the victory.

Here’s a backgrounder I’ve put together on Jeremy Lin’s basketball career at Harvard:

Freshman: Ever heard of Jim Goffredo? Drew Housman? Andrew Pusar? Dan McGeary? They were the guards on the Harvard 2006-07 men’s basketball team who played more minutes than Jeremy Lin did that year. Goffredo (a 6-3 senior) was the starting shooting guard (15.4 PPG), Housman (a 6-0 sophomore) was the starting point guard (13.2 PPG), the third guard in Harvard’s lineup, Pusar (a rugged 6-2 sophomore) scored 5.7 ppg in 20 minutes a game. Another freshman, McGeary (6-1), played more minutes than Lin and scored more points (5.3 PPG in 20 minutes per game). The team’s leading scorer was 7-0 center Brian Cusworth, 17.4 ppg, although he only played 18 games because his eligibility had expired, and 6-9 sophomore Evan Harris (10.4 ppg) were the big men in the starting lineup.

Analysis: So as a freshman, Lin couldn’t crack the starting lineup. In Harvard’s 3 guard lineup, Lin played the fifth most minutes of the 6 guards who played regularly. Lin only shot 41 percent from the field, averaged less than 5 points in 18 minutes per game, and the former NBA Knicks star didn’t do anything to distinguish himself on an Ivy League team that finished 12-16.

Sophomore: Former Duke University star Tommy Amaker took over as coach. Harvard continued with its three guard lineup. With the graduation of Goffredo, Lin moved into the starting shooting guard spot. Housman (junior, 10.6 PPG, starting point guard) and Pusar (junior, 8.1 PPG, 6-2 swingman known for his defense) were the other starting guards. McGeary, who played more than Lin as a freshman, continued coming off the bench as a sophomore, averaging 7.3 PPG. The former Knicks star was second-team all-Ivy. 6-9 junior Evan Harris (10.7 ppg), 6-7 sophomore Magnarelli (10.8 ppg) and 6-8 senior Unger were the big men.

Analysis: Lin was the leading scorer on a bad team (8-22 overall). He didn’t score (12.6 PPG) as much as Goffredo had (15.4 PPG), but he was a better all around player, averaging almost 5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Lin led the team in steals, assists, steals, was third in blocked shots (0.6 per game, a high number for a guard). He shot 44 percent from the field, but was mediocre from three point range (28%) and the free throw line (62%). He shot more three pointers per game (3.5) than free throws (2.9), indicating he was relying on his bad jump shot and was shooting long shots because the team was usually trailing.

Junior: Harvard had one of its best seasons in years, finishing at .500 with a 14-14 record. This was also one of Harvard’s most experienced teams in years, with three seniors and three juniors among its regulars. The other guards were 6-2 senior Pusar (6.4 ppg) and 6-0 senior PG Housman (9.6 ppg). Lin led the team in scoring at 17.8 PPG–the only Harvard player to average in double figures. He was the unquestioned leader as the team greatly improved. The big men struggled that year with injuries, especially with 6-9 sr Harris (5.0 ppg). 6-8 freshman Wright (8.0 ppg) and 6-7 junior Miller (6.1 ppg) and 6-6 freshman Boehm (6.1 ppg) played more minutes than expected.

Analysis: Lin greatly improved from his sophomore year. He averaged 17.8 PPG, shot 50.2% from the field, 40% from three point range, 74% from the free throw line. His stat line was excellent: 5.5 rpg, 4.2 assists, 2.4 steals, 0.6 blocks. He was the only player in the country who ranked in the top 10 in his conference in the top 8 statistical categories. There was even talk about him being Ivy League Player of the Year, he did finish All-Ivy First Team. The team relied on Lin–he also led in turnovers at 3.8 per game. One big change in his game: He shot more free throws (6.0) than three pointers (3.6). He was then known for his aggressive penetrations to the hoop and had some impressive dunks that were passed around on YouTube.

Senior: Harvard had what was considered to be one of its best recruiting classes ever. Three freshmen bumped other players out of the lineup so they were teaming with Lin and sophomore Wright by the end of the season. Harvard indeed had one of its best seasons ever, finishing 21-8, winning the most games in team history, and making its first tournament appearance since 1945-46. Long-time watchers in Harvard basketball were thrilled by the season although some lamented that Lin was graduating, Amaker had the makings of what appeared to be a great team. They were right, as Harvard tied to win a share of its first Ivy League championship. This year, the team is 21-3, in first place, and has a very good shot at making it to the NCAA tournament.

Analysis: Lin led the team in scoring for the third straight year and he continued with his all around play while improving his shooting. 16.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.5 apg, 2.4 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He shot more free throws (6.8) than three pointers (3.0). With a more talented team, he shot the ball on average less as a senior (9.9 FG attempts per game) than as a sophomore (10.9), but averaged four more points a game and his shooting greatly improved from 44 to 51 percent on FGs overall, from 28 to 34 % on three pointers, from 62 to 75 % on free throws. He was incredible from 2 point range his senior year. Lin was All-Ivy First Team again, but lost out to Ryan Wittman (son of the former NBA player and coach) as Ivy League Player of the Year that year. Wittman is now playing hoops in Poland–and may be getting calls from NBA teams…

Overall: Lin had a very good college career. He became the first player in Ivy League history to record more than 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals. He wasn’t a superstar, he was never a serious candidate for awards outside of the Ivy League. He showed great athleticism, getting some attention with some good games against top competition. He is now playing PG for the Knicks, but at Harvard, he was the shooting guard in a three-guard offense.

He went undrafted by the NBA, and was unnoticed nationally or internationally until February 2012.