The season will continue for the Harvard men’s basketball team, despite a heartbreaking loss to Princeton on Saturday (March 12) that cost the squad a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Crimson have accepted a place in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), and will play the Oklahoma State Cowboys on March 15 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

“We’re very fortunate,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker. “Only 100 teams play in the NCAA and NIT tournaments. We’re thrilled to be among them.”

Amaker acknowledged that he and his players were still feeling the sting of their last-second loss to Princeton. Both players and coaches are aware of the things they could have done better against the Tigers, he said.

“We didn’t do a great job defending in the paint, around the goal against Princeton,” he said. “We missed some free throws and we didn’t defend that last shot. There were lots of things.”

The team had hoped for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament, but was passed over by the selection committee. Amaker says that the news of the Crimson’s first-ever NIT bid gave a welcome lift to players’ spirits.

“We had the kids in for a lift and stretch [Sunday],” he said. “They were sore physically and also a little down, but they felt better when we got the brackets set for the NIT. We’re on to the next thing now and I expect them to bounce back, the way they have all season.”

Harvard has its work cut out against Oklahoma State (19-13). Despite having the best won-lost record in its bracket, the Crimson were passed over for a top four seed, and so must travel to Stillwater, Okla., to play the Cowboys on their home court. Amaker says that news of the game came late on Sunday night, and left him and his players scrambling to make arrangements and prepare.

“We’re just finding out about Oklahoma State, compiling information and statistics,” he explained. “They’re similar in some ways to George Mason or to a healthy George Washington University team. They’re athletic and quick. They play a hard, up-tempo game. They’re a physical team up front. We don’t have a lot of time to prepare, but we’ll do our best.”

Amaker hopes that there’s plenty of basketball ahead for Harvard, but said that the season has already been a big success. The team clinched a share of the Ivy League championship for the first time in program history and, for the second year in a row, set a record for wins. Tuesday night against the Cowboys — only the third post-season game in the history of the program — Amaker’s squad will set its sights on another milestone.

“Harvard has never won a post-season game,” he notes. “Hopefully, our year is not done. We’ll continue to grow, push, and move along.”


Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • The mother of all fans

    The mother of all fans

    Sabeina Tabron (from left, mother of Keith Wright '12), Celine Rivard (mother of Laurent Rivard '14), and Sharon Casey (mother of Kyle Casey '12) proudly display their allegiance to the Crimson.

  • Wright stuff

    Wright stuff

    Crimson forward and co-captain Keith Wright '12 goes up to defend a shot. Wright led the Crimson with 16 points and added 6 rebounds and 4 blocks.

  • Mid-air


    Crimson guard and co-captain Oliver McNally '12 drives to the basket.

  • Player of the Year

    Player of the Year

    Crimson fans, including one sporting a photo of basketball forward Keith Wright '12, the Ivy League Player of the Year, root on their team. Three busloads of students made the trip to Yale, the neutral site of the game.

  • All the way

    All the way

    Crimson forward Kyle Casey '12 drives hard to the basket.

  • Whistleblowers


    Crimson guard Dee Giger '13 and the rest of the bench take issue with the ref's call.

  • Above and beyond

    Above and beyond

    Crimson guard Brandyn Curry '13 fires a pass over a Princeton defender. Curry had 12 points and 6 assists. With 11 seconds to go in the game, Curry made a shot that put Harvard up by one.

  • Clockwatch


    Crimson guard and co-captain Oliver McNally '12 looks up at the clock showing just minutes left in the game, with the lead going back and forth between the two teams. McNally scored 13 points as Princeton won, 63-62.

  • Buzzkill


    The scoreboard tells the story: final score — Princeton, 63, Harvard, 62. As the final second ticked off, Princeton's Doug Davis threw a shot that went in as time expired. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Let it out

    Let it out

    Crimson guard Christian Webster '13 (from left) can't bear to look as he and teammates Andrew Van Nest '12, Brandyn Curry '13, and Matt Brown '13 walk dejectedly off the court.

  • And the bad guys rejoiced...

    And the bad guys rejoiced...

    A Princeton player is embraces by a Tiger fan on the court after Princeton's last-second win.

  • There's always next season

    There's always next season

    Crimson guard Brandyn Curry '13 (right) consoles Oliver McNally '12 as they disappear into the locker rooms and prepare for the long trip back to Harvard.