Feb 13, 2012
Amaker Building Harvard Into Ivy League Powerhouse

New York Daily News, Dick Weiss

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/college/tommy-amaker-harvard-basketball-built-ivy-league-dynasty-tough-undefeated-article-1.1021586

Harvard coach Tommy Amaker looks like he has put together the nucleus for an Ivy League dynasty. But he, better than anyone, should know how difficult it is to finish unbeaten in the often-overlooked non-scholarship league.

The last team to do so was Penn in 2003.

The Crimson (21-3), which has been in and out of the Top 25 three separate times, looked like it might have a shot to duplicate that feat after beating Yale on the road by 30 and winning an emotional 56-50 game over Penn Friday night at the Palestra, one of the historic landmarks in college basketball. But Harvard slipped the next night, losing to Princeton, 70-62, at Jadwin Gymnasium.

We should have seen this coming. Harvard hasn’t beaten Princeton (13-10, 4-3) at Jadwin since 1989. The Crimson (7-1) still has a one-game lead over Penn and Yale, and all of its seemingly toughest remaining games — Penn, Yale and Princeton — are in Cambridge. But there is added stress for a team that has never won the league and has not made an NCAA appearance since 1945.

The Ivy League has never received an at-large bid since the tournament expanded. It’s a shame. The level of play in this league was so good in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Penn, Princeton and Columbia were all good enough to play with anyone in the East in the 24- and 32-team fields. Princeton won the East regional and the third-place consolation game in 1965 when Bill Bradley went for 63 against Wichita State. Columbia, with Jim McMillian and three other NBA players, reached the Sweet 16 in 1968.

Penn was 28-0 and ranked third in the country in 1971 before losing to Philadelphia rival Villanova in the East Regional finals and the Quakers advanced to the Final Four as a No. 9 seed in 1979.

These days, the selection committee kisses off the Ivy League, using its math to constantly underseed the champion. But two years ago, Cornell advanced to a Sweet 16 as a 12 seed and last year Princeton, a No. 13, pushed Kentucky to the brink before losing, 55-53, in the final moments of a first-round game.

This Harvard team, whose tallest players are 6-7 Kyle Casey and 6-7 Keith Wright, may be limited in size, but it normally plays well defensviely in the halfcourt. But they had no answers for Princeton’s back door offense.

“That was a tough loss for us, Amaker said. Princeton deserved to win. They did an outstanding job at getting the ball in the post. They had a 62.5 shooting percentage in the second half. I was disappointed in our ability to make the plays defensively in the second half.”

Students stormed the court following Princeton’s first win against a ranked team since Nov. 23, 1997, when it beat Wake Forest at the Meadowlands. It was the Tigers’ first win over a ranked team at home since Jan. 3, 1977, against Notre Dame. “We don’t pay attention to the rankings, Princeton forward Ian Hummer said. Harvard has always been a big opponent of ours and we want to play them hard any time.”

Amaker Building Harvard Into Powerhouse

New York Daily News, Dick Weiss

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/college/tommy-amaker-harvard-basketball-built-ivy-league-dynasty-tough-undefeated-article-1.1021586

Harvard coach Tommy Amaker looks like he has put together the nucleus for an Ivy League dynasty. But he, better than anyone, should know how difficult it is to finish unbeaten in the often-overlooked non-scholarship league. The last team to do so was Penn in 2003. The Crimson (21-3), which has been in and out of the Top 25 three separate times, looked like it might have a shot to duplicate that feat after beating Yale on the road by 30 and winning an emotional 56-50 game over Penn Friday night at the Palestra, one of the historic landmarks in college basketball. But Harvard slipped the next night, losing to Princeton, 70-62, at Jadwin Gymnasium.

We should have seen this coming. Harvard hasn’t beaten Princeton (13-10, 4-3) at Jadwin since 1989. The Crimson (7-1) still has a one-game lead over Penn and Yale, and all of its seemingly toughest remaining games — Penn, Yale and Princeton — are in Cambridge. But there is added stress for a team that has never won the league and has not made an NCAA appearance since 1945. The Ivy League has never received an at-large bid since the tournament expanded. It’s a shame. The level of play in this league was so good in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Penn, Princeton and Columbia were all good enough to play with anyone in the East in the 24- and 32-team fields. Princeton won the East regional and the third-place consolation game in 1965 when Bill Bradley went for 63 against Wichita State. Columbia, with Jim McMillian and three other NBA players, reached the Sweet 16 in 1968. Penn was 28-0 and ranked third in the country in 1971 before losing to Philadelphia rival Villanova in the East Regional finals and the Quakers advanced to the Final Four as a No. 9 seed in 1979. These days, the selection committee kisses off the Ivy League, using its math to constantly underseed the champion. But two years ago, Cornell advanced to a Sweet 16 as a 12 seed and last year Princeton, a No. 13, pushed Kentucky to the brink before losing, 55-53, in the final moments of a first-round game. This Harvard team, whose tallest players are 6-7 Kyle Casey and 6-7 Keith Wright, may be limited in size, but it normally plays well defensviely in the halfcourt. But they had no answers for Princeton’s back door offense. “That was a tough loss for us, Amaker said. Princeton deserved to win. They did an outstanding job at getting the ball in the post. They had a 62.5 shooting percentage in the second half. I was disappointed in our ability to make the plays defensively in the second half.” Students stormed the court following Princeton’s first win against a ranked team since Nov. 23, 1997, when it beat Wake Forest at the Meadowlands. It was the Tigers’ first win over a ranked team at home since Jan. 3, 1977, against Notre Dame. “We don’t pay attention to the rankings, Princeton forward Ian Hummer said. Harvard has always been a big opponent of ours and we want to play them hard any time.”






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