Tommy Amaker had a vision of a frontcourt constructed around Kenyatta Smith while the Harvard head coach was buried inside his bunker — or office — planning for the season. Then Smith went down a week before the first game of the year with a broken bone in his left foot. Three months later, the 6-foot-8-inch center has only appeared in two minutes of actual game time. Amaker was able to get Smith those two minutes in an 80-50 victory against Dartmouth this past weekend. The plan is to ease Smith back into the rotation in hopes of finding an inside presence, something the junior developed into last season. “He changed our team (last year),” Amaker said, whose Crimson are 15-3 this season. “We had high hopes and high standards, as he did for himself. We were very excited for what he brings to our team. Our team, in some ways, has suffered from not having him.” Smith was a late-bloomer last season, but he provided the Crimson with an interior toughness when he got going. He averaged a team-leading 2.1 blocks a game and also tied a school record with 59 blocks on the year. Smith wasn’t playing much leading into a Feb. 15 matchup with Penn, but on that breakout night, he nearly recorded a triple-double, with 20 points, 10 blocks and nine rebounds. “What he brings to the defensive end, blocking shots,” Crimson guard Wesley Saunders said of what the team misses most about Smith. “He’s a game-changer for us. Everybody saw last year. It’s definitely great to have him back and finally be at full power again.” Smith said he didn’t suffer the injury on one specific play in the preseason. He said the injury started out as a stress reaction in his left foot that turned into a stress fracture because of over-exertion. Rest was really the only option to let the bone heal on its own, so he sat on the bench in a shirt and tie with a boot around his foot for the first 17 games of the year. “It’s tough,” Smith said. “I had coach talk to me, (my teammates) are always keeping me in good spirits. It is tough to work all the way up to the preseason and up until the very first game. It’s not something you want to happen, but I’m kind of just taking it in stride.” The thought of sitting out the year was talked about briefly. Harvard has different rules when it comes to “redshirting” a player. If a player decides to miss the year because of injury and is looking to recoup of a year of eligibility then, according to Amaker, that player would have to leave school all together and then re-enroll.
Kenyatta Smith aims for good health at Harvard
Boston Herald | Jan 29