Within 15 minutes after tip-off, I was getting texts that all free undergraduate tickets had been distributed. Sitting across from the student section, you could visibly see folks jostling for space along the walkways and looking for empty seats in other sections. Many people were turned away at the door, something that is just unheard of in my time covering this team.
You could feel it right away. Yale started the game disjointed, flat-footed, and sloppy. Arriving at Lavietes only an hour until tip-off due to Boston traffic (of course) and in front of numerous NBA scouts and executives, the Bulldogs fell behind 7-14 and never seemed to stand a chance against the Crimson. This did not look like a team that was on an eight-game tear.
But beyond what was developing on the court, it was evident the student section was unlike that of recent memory — when largely sparse, sedentary friend groups would come out across the river and show a bit of love (while doing homework at halftime. Yes, I’m serious).
This actually seemed like a night when the Crimson Crazies earned their moniker. When Harvard was on defense, the crowd let out a strident yell in attempts to deafen the Bulldogs’ playcalling. On Yale free throws, students gave friendly chirps to the opposing shooter. Perhaps the highlight of the night? When Harvard had all but sealed the contest late in the second half, a small group of students began to yell, “We Want Duke!”
The fervor and passion that was exuded last night did not go unignored by the home team. It was so loud at some points in the contest that coach Tommy Amaker had to temper down, rather than invigorate, his side.
“We had great fan support today, the gym was packed,” sophomore forward Danilo Djuricic said. “It really helped propel us to victory and give us some fire to, keep going on runs and make great plays.”
“At times, this is where our kids have to manage it a little better,” Amaker added. “Sometimes we get caught up in that and wanted to do a little too much because of that, because of the energy and the frenzy. We have to fight those things. Those are good things, issues and problems for us to work through.”
As the Crimson marches on in its Ancient Eight slate now having downed the hottest team in the league, the excitement and thrill of an uber-competitive Ivy League should only continue. It was certainly an incredible scene to witness last night at Lavietes, but will it persist?
Only the Crimson Crazies can answer that question.