Sports Goggles

Archive for March 11th, 2008

Tommy Amaker, Harvard and the Conundrum of 21st Century NCAA Hoops

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A basketball team with an 8-22 overall record that went 3-11 in conference play should raise few eyebrows. But when the name Tommy Amaker (pictured above, right) is attached to that record, brows furrow. At a distance the wrinkles can be seen on the foreheads of coaches and athletic directors across the Ivy League’s men’s basketball programs.

Amaker replaced Frank Sullivan, whose contract with Harvard was not renewed after the Crimson went 12-16 overall and 5-9 in the Ivy League last season and 178-245 over 16 years. Harvard hasn’t played in the NCAA Tournament since 1946.

Amaker’s first head coaching stint came at Seton Hall. There for four seasons, he led the Pirates to a 68-55 record, a trip to the round of 16 in the 2000 NCAA Tournament and three NIT appearances. Michigan took one look at Amaker’s record and reeled him in to take over the reins of their blighted program.

Though he met the administration’s mandate of restoring integrity to the basketball program, Amaker’s luck never broke. It was as if, when Michigan washed the accomplishments of the Fab Five from its memory, the ghosts of Chris Webbers past loosed themselves on the program – and on Amaker.

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