BOSTON (CBS) – The Harvard Crimson are heading to the big dance. But just getting there will not be enough for them.
“The goal is to advance in the dance,” said senior co-captain Keith Wright.
Harvard became Ivy League champs Tuesday night after Princeton defeated Penn, punching the Crimson’s ticket to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1946.
“It’s a huge stepping stone for us to say we’ve been to the tournament sometime recent,” said Wright. “This is huge for the program.”
“I know they’re very excited about it because we’ve been on this path and journey for a while to hopefully put ourselves in this position,” said head coach Tommy Amaker. “I’m confident that they’ll handle things well. That’s been a key with our team; how we’ve been able to respond and handle, whether its adverse situations where there’s been success and positive situations … they’ve been really, really good handling things in stride. We try to do that as a coaching staff, to put things in perspective.”
Tommy Amaker On NCAA Tournament
Now, along with his teammates, Wright can sit and watch selection Sunday this weekend knowing their names will be called.
“It’s a dream come true. It’s a goal that we wanted to accomplish when being recruited here,” said Wright. “Coach Amaker pitched that dream to us, of establishing Harvard as a basketball powerhouse. This is just the first step, and it’s awesome to be here at the beginning of it all.”
“It’s going to probably be one of the best moments of my life,” said senior guard Oliver McNally. “Just to make it official, be on CBS and have our name pop up.”
The last time Harvard was in the NCAA Tournament, Harry Truman was president.
“That’s crazy,” said Wright.
The Crimson will likely secure an 11th seed when their name is called on Sunday, making them an underdog throughout the tournament. That is one position they don’t mind being in, though.
“I’ve heard a long time ago, people follow top dogs but they root for underdogs,’ said Amaker.
“Going in, we’re definitely going to be an underdog. It’s a nice position,” said junior guard Brandyn Curry. “We’re very confident. We’ve always had that thought from the beginning that we will not only make the tournament, but win a couple games.”
“We have a veteran club and we’ve talked a lot about concentration, composure and confidence, and our kids have adopted that incredibly well. I believe they will have some confidence,” said Amaker. “We’ve played against some high-level teams all season and so, whoever we get matched up against, obviously it’s going to be incredibly challenging in many ways, but I’m confident in our kid’s ability to put forth a great effort to compete.”
Harvard will make sure that just because they are in the field of 68, they won’t go changing around what has worked for them all season.
“We have to prepare like we always have, we can’t change our identity,” said Amaker. “Sometimes you get to a situation or a point of the year and you want to be something different…. We have to be who we’ve been for the remainder of this journey. I think if we are committed to that — stay with our standards, our identity, our roles and our goals – I’m confident we’ll feel good about ourselves.”