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John Harvard's Journal

Roundball Royalty

May-June 2014

Tommy Amaker

Tommy Amaker

Photograph by Jon Chase/Harvard Public Affairs and Communications

Five seasons ago, Harvard had never won an Ivy basketball championship. Now it has captured four in a row and to all appearances is becoming a national hoops power. Returning to the NCAA tournament after their first win at the “dance” last spring, the twelfth-seeded Crimson upset fifth-seeded Cincinnati, 61-57, in their initial game. Next they faced Michigan State, a heavy favorite ranked first in the country early in the year and picked by many to win the whole tournament. But Harvard astounded the basketball-savvy crowd in Spokane with a stunning 29-11 run in the second half. Facing a daunting 16-point deficit early in the stanza, the Crimson took a 62-60 lead with 7:12 to play, bringing the arena to a frenzy. Ultimately, the Spartans found enough counters in the closing minutes to pull out a 80-73 victory. (More details are available at http://harvardmagazine.com/2014/03/harvard-basketball-michigan-state-ncaa-2014.)

 “I can’t say enough about our team and the effort and the guts that they showed in the second half to make a run, to take the lead, to play with so much composure and fight,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker declared in New York Times report. “I was so proud to see that happen.” Clark Kellogg, the lead college basketball analyst for CBS, which aired the game, said, “I am really impressed with the Crimson. Harvard played with the kind of tenacity you may not expect from an Ivy League team.” And one veteran observer of Crimson athletics, former Sports Illustrated editor Dick Friedman ’73, declared it “the best loss in Harvard sports history. Sometimes defeat makes you prouder than many victories. Tonight was one of those nights.”

Amaker, who has spearheaded the spectacular turnaround in Crimson basketball fortunes, was in the news for another reason as the tournament unfolded. The firing of Boston College’s head coach instantly triggered media speculation that Amaker would leave Harvard after his seven seasons at the helm to take over the floundering program across town—no doubt with a drastically enlarged salary and the big-time challenge of Atlantic Coast Conference competition. Instead, Amaker surprised many by electing to stay with the Crimson. “After thoughtful deliberation, I continue to realize my heart is at Harvard,” he declared. “To teach, lead, and serve at this amazing institution, and in this special community, is truly meaningful to me.”

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Photograph by Gil Talbot/Courtesy of Harvard Athletics Communications

 

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Photograph: With Yale’s Melvin Rouse II in vain pursuit, Harvard’s Aidan Borguet heads for the goal line.

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Photographs by Tim O’Meara/The Harvard Crimson

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Photograph of several players competing for the puck in front of the Harvard goal

Mind the net: Sophomore goalie Lindsay Reed, flanked by teammates Ali Peper (13) and Nicki Lutschaunig (12), homes in on a speeding puck during a January win against Union College. Last year, Reed averaged more than 30 saves per game. 
Photograph by Gil Talbot/Courtesy of Harvard Athletics Communications

 

Lindsay Reed, Harvard women’s ice-hockey goalie

Matt Gilmore, sitting behind the wheel of a Zamboni

Matt “Happy” Gilmore smiles behind the wheel. Zamboni-driving takes focus, but Gilmore says that he loves waving to children in the crowd and making their day.
Photograph by Jim Harrison

A quest for perfect ice

Photograph: With Yale’s Melvin Rouse II in vain pursuit, Harvard’s Aidan Borguet heads for the goal line.

Four score: With Yale’s Melvin Rouse II in vain pursuit, Harvard’s Aidan Borguet heads for the goal line. Against the Elis, the Crimson freshman back rushed for a series single-game record 269 yards and amassed four touchdowns on only 11 carries, a performance that helped earn him the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award.
Photographs by Tim O’Meara/The Harvard Crimson

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