STANFORD, Calif.—The Tommy Amaker Era started with a bang—a resounding 55-point loss.
The Harvard men’s basketball team dropped its season opener, the debut of new head coach Tommy Amaker, 111-56, to No. 23 Stanford, host of the weekend-long Basketball Travelers Classic, at Maples Pavilion on Friday night.
The bigger and more skilled Cardinal blitzed the Crimson out of the gates, jumping out to early leads of 19-3 and 42-17 en route to a 65-28 halftime cushion. Stanford hit the 80-point mark less than five minutes into the second half and reached triple digits with over six minutes to play.
“We were bigger and stronger at every position,” said Stanford head coach Trent Johnson. “But what they were running offensively, they got some good shots. And they kept competing, so it’s just going to be a matter of time.”
Reserve guard Drew Shiller led Stanford with 18 points. Anthony Goods, despite battling a stomach illness throughout the game, was one of four other Cardinal players in double figures, scoring 17 in 16 minutes, including five-of-six shooting from three-point range. Brook Lopez, a projected first-round NBA draft pick, was out of action due to academic ineligibility. His twin brother Robin started at center in his absence.
Junior forward Evan Harris led Harvard with 14 points and six rebounds, and junior Drew Housman chipped in 10. The Crimson was dramatically out-rebounded, 50-19, had assists on only seven of its 19 baskets, and committed 19 turnovers. The team also had a miserable showing at the free-throw line, where it converted only 15 of 31 attempts.
“They really pounded the backboard against us,” Amaker said. “I thought we were not very good in that area at all. I was pleased that we were able to get to the foul line, but we couldn’t convert. I was very impressed with their team.”
The blowout afforded Amaker the chance to empty his bench. All 13 players who were dressed for the game saw the floor, and 25 of the squad’s 56 points were scored by reserves. Sophomore Dan McGeary, a transfer from New Hampshire, paced the subs with nine points, while freshman forward Kyle Fitzgerald added eight.
“It comes to a point where it’s about pride,” Fitzgerald said. “The score, we knew we couldn’t come back, but it’s about each individual possession and making stops and showing that you’re not going to give up.”
The result was even more lopsided than the last Stanford-Harvard matchup, a 100-59 win for the Cardinal on Dec. 28, 2003—the last time it reached the century mark. And it was the Crimson’s worst defeat since it opened the 1989-90 season at Duke and suffered a 130-54 drubbing at the hands of the Blue Devils. Coincidentally, Amaker served as an assistant coach for that Duke team.
“I told our kids at a certain point we weren’t monitoring the score,” Amaker said. “We came here to play three games total, and we have to see if we can put ourselves together and regroup.”
Harvard will have a chance to recover when it meets UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, and closes the tournament against Northwestern State on Sunday afternoon.
—Staff writer Jonathan Lehman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.