CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Jeremy Lin’s jersey hangs in the lounge overlooking the Lavietes Pavilion, and dangling above Harvard’s home court are the banners for the 2011 and ’12 Ivy League championships.
And yet, to hear Tommy Amaker tell it, the school’s best days are ahead.
“I think the building blocks are in our program now,” the Harvard coach said after practice this week. “We’ve built up some things. Maybe last year was a year of pushing it to the point of making the tournament, (but) I do think we have a program we can lean on and say: ‘There’s something here in Harvard basketball.’ ”
Despite a cheating scandal that cost them their senior co-captains, the Crimson were in first place in the Ivy League after completing their first trip through the conference last weekend with victories over Penn and Princeton. Harvard (15-7, 7-1) still has games at Penn and Princeton remaining.
“We’re in first place, so we’re loving that,” Amaker said after practice this week. “But we also know that it’s a long horse race.”
The program that tutored Lin has experienced unprecedented success in the past three years, sending him to the NBA in 2010, sharing the Ivy crown the next year and then winning it outright last year for its first NCAA tournament berth since 1946. Last year’s team also set a Harvard record with 26 wins and reached The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in school history.
Among the keys to Harvard’s success have been senior guard Christian Webster, who with 85 wins in four years is now the winningest player in Harvard history, and guard Laurent Rivard, the leading scorer returning from last year’s team. Sophomore Wesley Saunders is the leading scorer, with 16.7 points per game.
“I know a lot of neat things occurred last year, but two and three years prior to last year, things have been getting to this point,” Amaker said. “I don’t think it was just last year that was ‘The Year of Harvard basketball.’ ”