Amaker Seeking Rebound Season

The men’s basketball season may not start for a couple of weeks, but for many fans, the anticipation has already begun. Yesterday, all eight head coaches in the Ivy League participated in a media teleconference, giving their thoughts on the upcoming league season and answering questions from different media members.

Harvard’s second-year head coach Tommy Amaker participated and remarked on a variety of subjects.

His team goes into this season hoping to improve on its 8-22 overall mark and 3-11 Ivy record that left it tied for the cellar.

“We’re excited, there is a lot of energy and passion around the team as we are trying to build,” Amaker said. “Hopefully that will translate into better play for us and more wins. We feel good about the positive atmosphere that surrounds us right now as we move in a positive direction to be a contender and one day win a championship.”

The team has only been practicing since last Friday, but Amaker is pleased with what he has seen so far.

One of the biggest pluses from these few training sessions has been the return to health of junior forward Pat Magnarelli.

The big man was one of the Crimson’s top performers in the early part of last season, averaging 10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

He suffered a season-ending knee injury against Dartmouth last Jan. 11, and the team won only two of its final 13 games after that.

This was not Magnarelli’s first serious injury as he missed much of his freshman campaign with back problems

“He has recovered and we’re certainly hoping he can stay healthy,” Amaker said. “He’s a very integral part of our team, especially up front and when he went down, I think it is very obvious the impact he had on our ballclub. We’re hoping all of our guys can stay healthy so we can have a chance of being the best that we can be.”

Amaker also answered questions about media reports last spring that spoke of recruiting violations committed by his regime.

The allegations were found to be untrue during investigations conducted by the Ivy League and Harvard.

“It was unfortunate we had to go through those investigations when the allegations were wrong, but that is the way the world is,” Amaker said. “I’m glad that things turned out as we knew they would from the very beginning, that we were doing things the right way.”

Each of the eight coaches gave his opinion on a potential conference tournament to determine the Ivy representative in NCAA tournament. Each coach spoke favorably about that possibility. The Ivy League is the only conference in America without a conference tournament.

“I’m a huge advocate,” Columbia coach Joe Jones said. “When you are mathematically eliminated after just three weeks, it is tough to get motivated, especially for upperclassmen.”

Last season Cornell benefited from the lack of conference tournament as it didn’t have to risk squandering its 14-0 league mark before entering the NCAA tournament.

Nevertheless, Big Red head coach Steve Donahue agreed with his fellow Ivy League brethren.

“I think it is best for the student-athletes,” Donahue said. “If the conference tournament is done right, I am all for it.”

The league preseason poll was released the same day.

Defending champion Cornell was a unanimous pick among all 16 voters to repeat as league champions. Harvard is projected to finish fourth in the league, behind Penn and Yale.

Harvard will look to surpass these expectations with the help of a stellar senior class. Guard Drew Housman, along with forwards Evan Harris and Andrew Pusar, lead the class in its last crack at an Ivy championship.

Ivy League Executive Director Jeff Orleans opened the teleconference by expressing his excitement for the season ahead.

“We have some interesting freshmen coming in and some great players coming back,” he said. “It’s going to be a very exciting season.”

—Staff writer Ted Kirby can be reached at tkirby@fas.harvard.edu

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