It has been an amazing 24 hours for the Harvard Crimson men’s basketball team. The 14 seed eliminated the third seeded New Mexico Lobos getting their first ever NCAA Tournament win.
But there isn’t much time to think about the win that was the talk of the tournament after day one of round two as the Crimson had to wake up and refocus to take on the Wildcats on Saturday.
“Personally I talked to Jeremy (Lin) a little bit,” mentioned junior guars Laurent Rivard who had 17 points and five three-pointers vs. New Mexico. “I talked to Keith Wright yesterday in the locker room…So it was nice to know that they kept following us.”
“It’s been tough but I think the celebration ended this morning,” said senior guard Christian Webster who had 11 points and three three-pointers against New Mexico. “We had a meeting and coach was like, now it’s time to focus on Arizona in today’s practice…Like coach said earlier in our meeting, we’re used to this in Ivy League Friday, Saturday games back-to-back. So it’s nothing new for us.”
The leading scorer for the Crimson against New Mexico and the entire season is sophomore forward Wesley Saunders. Arizona actually was in on Saunders’ recruitment out of Los Angeles when he was in high school.
“Arizona was a school I was interested in,” said Saunders who had 18 points against New Mexico. “They never offered me or anything like that but I went to their elite camp. I liked the school. I liked the coaches as well. They were great guys. it was a nice school.”
Arizona’s size and length inside was a problem for Belmont Thursday, out-rebounding the Bruins 44-18. That could be a struggle for Harvard as well as their starting center, sophomore Kenyatta Smith, stands 6’8”.
“Huge challenge,” Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker stated. “Arizona is talented and big and athletic across the board, but certainly up front.”
“We’re young up front,” Amaker added. “You look at our guys that are playing the bulk of the minutes for us; they’re big and they’re sophomores…We don’t need them to do a lot. We jsut need them to be solid in a few areas. I think if you break it down and simplify it like that, it gives them a chance to be confident in just a few things. As the game went on for us yesterday you could see the confidence growing in our young big guys up front.”
Both Sean Miller (Pitt) and Tommy Amaker (Duke) were point guards when playing in college. Amaker was asked Friday if he could take Miller in a game of one-on-one. Amaker joked that he couldn’t.