After his team blew an 18-point lead to St. Mary’s less than a week ago, men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker probably wasn’t counting his chickens, even heading into halftime with a 43-21 lead over Rice at Lavietes on Saturday night.
But when the final buzzer sounded and the scoreboard showed a 92-62 advantage for the home team, the Virginia native notched something that had just slipped from his grasp on New Year’s eve: his 100th career win as a Harvard coach, a record reached only by three other Crimson leaders.
Junior co-captain Laurent Rivard and sophomore guard Wesley Saunders both tallied 21 points on the night to help lift the Crimson to victory, while freshman point guard Siyani Chambers turned in a double-double performance to contribute as well.
The milestone isn’t the only one that the former Michigan coach has accomplished in Cambridge since his start in 2007, however. In just Amaker’s second season coaching in the Ivy League, the Crimson, led by then-junior guard Jeremy Lin’s 27-point performance, upset No. 17 Boston College, a team that had just recently upset No. 1 UNC. The win was the first in Harvard’s history over a ranked opponent.
A year later, Amaker led the squad to a school record 21 wins, a record which he surpassed in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons with 23 and 26 victories, respectively.
Last season, a key win by Princeton over Penn helped the Crimson earn the automatic Ivy League berth to March Madness, its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1946, marking a near-complete turnaround during his tenure. From an 8-22 record in his first season to a 26-4 record in the 2011-12 season, the former Duke star turned a league bottom-feeder into an Ancient Eight champion.
Harvard travels to Hanover next week to begin Ivy play against Dartmouth as Amaker inches closer to all-time record of 178 wins, held by Frank Sullivan.