Siyani Chambers could barely contain himself. As the seconds ticked away on the clock, a huge smile spread across his face. For the first time ever, the Harvard Crimson had won an NCAA Tournament game, beating 3 seed New Mexico 68-62 behind 17 points and 5 boards from Laurent Rivard. Wesley Saunders came up big as well, dropping 18 points. The Crimson used stingy defense and great 3 point shooting from Rivard and Christian Webster (who passed the 1000 point mark for his career with an early three) to wear down New Mexico, who failed to capitalize on their height advantage. Too often Rivard, bizarrely listed as a forward in the broadcast, was left open, and he took his chances well. The Crimson narrowly avoided disaster after embarrassingly struggling to inbound the ball, and were able to bust the brackets of many and come away with the upset.
For the average (i.e. uneducated) fan, it may appear that the Crimson are just now breaking out. However, this is not case. With four straight 20 win seasons, the Crimson have been good for quite a while. And they owe most of it to head coach Tommy Amaker who turned the team from a laughingstock into a mid major powerhouse.
The Crimson’s ascent truly began on January 7, 2009. On that day Jeremy Lin scored 27 points to propel the Crimson to victory over the Boston College Eagles, Harvard’s first ever win over a ranked opponent. The next season the Crimson went 21-8 and lost in the CIT. the year after that, Harvard began a run of three straight Ivy League titles. And with a strong recruiting class coming in, coupled with the return of Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, that run looks like it will continue for the next few years.