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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: SPOKANE


March 21, 2014


Tommy Amaker

Siyani Chambers

Brandyn Curry

Laurent Rivard

Wesley Saunders


SPOKANE, WASHINGTON

THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll get started with questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.¬† For all of you guys, how did you wind up at Harvard?¬† Clearly, your abilities are‑‑ you're capable of playing at a place with full scholarships and other things, how did you wind up in this program and what was the sell?
SIYANI CHAMBERS:  I would say first off, the institution.  It doesn't get any better academically than Harvard.  And then also going off that, my relationship with the players and the coaching staff is what really sold Harvard to me.  My relationship, first with Coach Amaker was far better than I had with any other coach, and then when I came on my official visit I felt like a family when I came and met these guys.  So, I think those are two things, three things that pushed Harvard over the top.
LAURENT RIVARD:  The institution, you know one of the best schools in the world, and I was definitely looking for a good school and I had a really great relationship with players when I came to visit.  I really believe in Coach Amaker's vision when he was recruiting me.
BRANDYN CURRY:  The biggest thing was first was Coach Amaker's whole vision that he had.  I remember him sitting down with me in my coach's office talking about the opportunity to make history at Harvard.  First of all, with it being such a prestigious University, having the opportunity to make history at Harvard was a huge deal.  And then being different, not going to one of the scholarship schools and a lot of players go to that.  But, doing something different, going to Ivy League.
And then meeting all these players, I met Keith and Oliver McNally and Kyle Casey.  Right away I fell in love with the University, the students and the team.  And we talked about it together, that we can come here and make history.
WESLEY SAUNDERS:¬† Pretty much the same thing.¬† I'm in the same boat as everybody else.¬† I came ‑‑ academically, Harvard is second to none and that was a big reason why I came.¬† Then I came on my visit, I just fell in love with everything about the school, Cambridge, the area, the people, and then these guys.¬† I mean, they were just so welcoming that I just knew that this was the place for me.

Q.  Brandyn, from your quotes after the game yesterday you guys didn't know who you were playing.  But, you can tell you had a high regard for Michigan State and then obviously, Payne goes out and drops 41.  What are your impressions of that team and how much do you know the challenge that you face that's going to be a steep one, I guess?
BRANDYN CURRY:  We're definitely in for a battle tomorrow.  Michigan State's one of the best teams in the country.  They're highly favored by a lot of people to win it all.  So, they got a lot of hype about them and they're well deserving, they're a great team.  Obviously, Adreian Payne is a force inside as he proved yesterday.  He got 40 yesterday, so we know going into it he's ready to go.  They have great guard play, they're an outstanding team.  Coach Izzo is a great coach and they have a great team.  So, we got to come full force tomorrow.

Q.  Siyani, Laurent, Wes, you worked through this last year getting into the next round and then had a let down in performance against Arizona.  Is there anything you guys learned from last year to this year that would give you a better chance at coming out strong at the beginning of this one?
LAURENT RIVARD:  Last year we didn't turn the page quickly enough.  We made sure to do it differently this year.  It helped that we played earlier yesterday during the day, so we could enjoy the victory for a couple hours and then we knew we had to turn the page and start getting ready for Michigan State.

Q.  Noticing how coach prepares, how is he different with this game since he's coached against Tom Izzo and Michigan State so much?  Did you notice a difference in maybe not having to wait for as much film to explain to you some things or tendencies?
WESLEY SAUNDERS:  We haven't really done too much film work or anything yet with them.  We watched a few clips just kind of giving us a some idea of their personnel.  But, so, we'll probably get more into that tonight as we prepare for it tomorrow.

Q.  Wesley, yesterday you had to go up against one of the best shooting guards in the country with Kilpatrick.  You're probably going to have to do it again with Harris tomorrow.  Any strategy on how you're going to guard him?
WESLEY SAUNDERS:  Just come out and play hard.  It's going to be another great challenge and I'm looking forward to it.

Q.¬† For all of you and any of you, watching the game yesterday against Cincinnati, you guys clearly looked like the better basketball team from start to finish.¬† You're a 12, they're a 5.¬† When you watch them on film, did you sense right away that you were a better team and why do you think there's that in terms that have eye test and seeding that gap between a 5 and a 12 and you guys were, clearly it was a miss‑seed.
SIYANI CHAMBERS:  When we watched them on film, we felt that as if we boxed out and we took care of the ball that we had a pretty good shot on it.  That was the game plan last night.  I think we did a pretty good job of it and it showed that if we were able to do that, we were able to stay close and we were fortunate enough to win.

Q.  Along those lines, I'm interested if any of you guys watched North Dakota State last night, Mercer Duke today, and if you did can you comment on what, what is the difference these days between a Mercer and a Duke?
LAURENT RIVARD: ¬†I did watch some of the Mercer Duke game and some of the North Dakota State game last night.¬† This is why they call it March Madness.¬† Everyone has to come ready to play and some teams play‑‑ have a really good game on like a specific day, the other team might not.¬† This is what the madness is all about.
BRANDYN CURRY:¬† Anything can happen in these 40 minutes and watching those games, it just shows why this tournament is such a great thing.¬† I think that now the quote unquote Mid Majors, that gap is slowly closing.¬† As you can see, these upsets are happening more and more often.¬† I think it's because of the talent around America is just getting better and these players are going to decide to be different and go to different institutions and want to do something different.¬† I think both of those schools‑‑ that was their first victories ever in the tournament.¬† I'm sure the coaches sold it just like Coach Amaker sold it to us, come here and be different.¬† I know they got highly talented players that could have went on to play at some of these other universities, but they decided to go there and that's why, to make history and do something special.

Q.  Brandyn, maybe also for Wesley, just kind of in the same area.  Is there anything that helps about groups that can be together for four years where you don't have one or two players that are dropping in and then going to the NBA?  Would that help maybe explain some of that too?
BRANDYN CURRY:  Oh, yeah, most certainly.  I think you definitely see that with Mercer.  With them being all seniors they played so many games together.  Same thing with my team.  I been with some of my teammates for three or four years now and just the comfort level and the trust we have in each other.  Just to know that I know Kyle Casey has my back, so if my defender goes by me, I know not to foul because I know Kyle's back there.  He's going to clean the back board and block the shot.
I know that when I drive I know that Laurent is going to fill the wing and be ready to shoot.  And just having that confidence in each other really helps us come together.  When you play in these games you got to be together because it's just you against all the odds, so you need everything you got.
WESLEY SAUNDERS:  Definitely staying together for four years helps.  You just have that chemistry.  You know each other's tendencies and you've been with them through ups and downs, so you just have the confidence in each other that they're going to be in the right spots at the right time.

Q.  For all of you guys, how important do you think pace is going to be in this game and what is the ideal pace for you in this game?
SIYANI CHAMBERS:¬† Pace is really important.¬† But, they also play a pace.¬† They try to get out in transition too, just like we do. ¬†I think our pace is going to try to be the same as it's always been, try to get up‑and‑down the court as quickly as we can.¬† But, also getting good shots.¬† If we don't have a good shot in the fast break we'll try to work it around in our half court game.
LAURENT RIVARD:  We play at a pretty high pace, in an ideal world it would be like to play the same pace we always do and to slow them down a little bit, because they go pretty fast too.

Q.¬† Brandyn and Siyani, not to ‑‑ no disrespect, but a lot of people talk about what Tommy has done to build Harvard into a basketball brand, but as a pure coach, what are some things as players, that you guys appreciate about what he does X and O wise, keeping his players in line wise, and things that people don't appreciate as a coach.¬† Because he came from Michigan obviously, the job he did there and maybe he grew as a coach in that time.¬† Talk about the job he did there too.
BRANDYN CURRY:¬† I appreciate about Coach Amaker is how much confidence he has in us.¬† He puts a lot of responsibilities on our shoulders.¬† He expects a lot of us ‑‑ but he has all the confidence in the world in us.¬† I can't tell you‑‑ every day now I get yelled at for not shooting a shot.¬† I don't know how many how often have you coaches yelling at you for not taking shots.
So, Coach Amaker has at sometimes, I think, more confidence in us than we have in ourselves.¬† That's definitely been a great help for me throughout my whole year where I've had my up‑and‑downs and struggles and gone in slumps.¬† He'll put me into the offense, show film of me doing well, tell me the same exact things that he told me when he was recruiting me, like why he brought me here and stuff like that.¬† And he just really stayed true to everything he ever told me.¬† And that's why I have the most respect for him, that's why I love playing for him and why I'm here.
SIYANI CHAMBERS:  Two things, he's a player's coach, so he's been in the situation before, he always tells us that and he always looks out for our best interests.  So, if he see that is we're tired, we have had a long week, we have had mid terms, we got tests, we just came off two hard games on the weekend, he'll tone it back a little bit like, go get some rest, you need that.
And also he doesn't sugar coat things.  He tells you how it is.  If you have a bad practice he'll let you know, but he'll also let you know when you're doing good things.  So, I think that's really important in a coach and that's what I was looking for.  Someone that would be up front with you when you're doing good and when you're doing bad.

Q.  When you have a team like Michigan State that can play outside, can play inside, can do transition, slow it down, do you focus on one thing or just try to play maybe more of a complete effort?  Is that maybe a different way to go at it?
WESLEY SAUNDERS:  I think that any team we matchup against we just try to play our game.  We don't really worry too much about what they do, necessarily.  We just try to stick to our standards and principles and do the things that have gotten us to this point.
BRANDYN CURRY:  Definitely we try to focus more on what we're doing and stuff like that.  We might pinpoint certain areas we think that we can put more emphasis on, like against Cincinnati.  It was taking care of the ball and boxing them out because they're great on the offensive boards.  So, we'll figure that out, what it is with Michigan State.  Like Wesley said earlier, we haven't really got into our report or anything like that.  We'll do that tonight.  So, coaches will give us the game plan.  But, we will definitely try to focus more on handling us, because we feel if as long as we play well and are happy with how we play, at the end of the day when we look up at the scoreboard, it will most likely favor us.

Q.  Following up, what is your style?  What is Harvard basketball, if you had to sum it up for someone?
BRANDYN CURRY:  Real quick, we defend, we box out, we sprint, we're unselfish and we have fun.  That's our identity.  That's how we approach every single game.
WESLEY SAUNDERS:¬† That's literally our‑‑
BRANDYN CURRY:  That's our identity.
WESLEY SAUNDERS:  That's our identity.
BRANDYN CURRY:  So, if you ever wonder.

Q.  For the two guys in the middle, you talked a lot about making history, that that was a big reason that you came to Harvard.  So, we know that you have made some history, but is there any sense that to make more history you have to win this game tomorrow to get into the second week end or how do you approach that?
LAURENT RIVARD:  It's definitely a big game and last year we were fortunate enough to make it to the third round again in the tournament.  And for Brandyn and I, it's our last go around with Harvard.  So, we definitely, we'll try to make history more history and it's definitely a big game.  I mean it could be our last game, we don't know, and we'll try not to play our last game on Saturday.  But, it's really exciting.
BRANDYN CURRY:  Absolutely our goal is to make more history.  Our goal is every year, is to get better.  And so, and we so far we have done that every single year.  From going from the CIT to the NIT to the NCAA to winning a game.  We're getting better and better slowly so obviously, next step is we have to win two games in the NCAA tournament.  So, that's what we're aiming to do at least.

Q.  How's your eye?
BRANDYN CURRY:  It's all right.  It didn't swell up to bad, it's kind of sensitive right now to the lights, but other than that.

Q.¬† Did they have to do anything or ‑‑ I saw you got attention on the bench there for awhile.
BRANDYN CURRY:  I didn't realize that this eye was bleeding because I got, I got poked in this one.  So, that's why I was holding it so everyone thought I was crazy because I was holding my right eye while my left eye was bleeding.  So, that was confusing but I didn't know it got scratched.  But, yeah, I couldn't see for a minute and it was good thing that it happened right before halftime because they put some ointment in my eye and it burned for a little bit.  And luckily we had long halftime and it cleared up and I was able to see.  I had to keep applying it every couple hours, but it's fine, it looks worse than it really is.

Q.  Guys, college sports has been hit with scandal, billion dollar industry and Harvard's kind of the old school, does it the way that a lot of people think it should be done.  Do you feel that you're carrying that?  Because there are a lot of Goliath programs, there's not a lot of David's, do you guys feel like you're carrying that and the weight of the nation's watching you and all the expectations?
WESLEY SAUNDERS:  No, not really.
(Laughter.)
I think we just come out and just try to play basketball and represent our University in the best way possible.  So, I think we just go out and focus on every game and try to come out with a victory.
SIYANI CHAMBERS:  Wesley got it.

Q.  For Wesley and Brandyn, has Harvard outgrown the Cinderella tag, do you think?
BRANDYN CURRY:  That's a tough question.  I guess a little bit.  Because I feel like we have shown that we're definitely a dangerous team that can beat a lot of people.  I think maybe early on when we first started and were first getting into the tournament maybe, but, I think we have proven that we deserve to be here.
But at the same time, of course, I think that it makes for a good story, we're an Ivy League school, we don't have any scholarships.¬† A lot of people don't have respect for the Ivy League at all, so I guess in that regard that probably won't ever change.¬† But, I definitely think that‑‑ not just us, but the rest of the teams in our conference what they have done over the past few years have shown that we're‑‑ the Ivy League is definitely a great league.
WESLEY SAUNDERS:  I definitely think that just always when you think of Harvard you're going to think academics first.  I don't really know what the sports program could do to really overshadow the academics of Harvard.  But, I think that we're slowly starting to pop up on people's radar, and people across the country are taking notice of what we have been able to do.  So yes and no.

Q.  For Branden and Laurent, you guys have been around definitely, in the Ivy League for a while and this is the first year the Ivy League sent five teams, I think, to the post season and all of you guys won your first game.  Talk about how the league's improved and what it means to be getting a little bit of credit for the league.
LAURENT RIVARD:¬† Just getting five teams in the post‑season kind of speaks for itself.¬† Compared to what we used to get three or four or five years ago.¬† For the past four or five years, I think the Ivy League has been doing great in post‑season, whether it's Cornell went to the Sweet 16 in 2012, Kentucky beat Princeton by one my Freshman year.¬† So, I think it's slowly growing and we're getting better teams and it makes for an even more exciting 14 game tournament.¬† That's our league games.
BRANDYN CURRY:¬† Yeah, I mean the Ivy League is just continuing getting better every year and it's tougher and tougher.¬† I don't think people understand really how hard it is to go and play back to back nights against these teams.¬† You play Friday‑‑ and we have had had overtime games on Friday night, had to get on the bus, drive four or five hours to the next destination and stay, wake up and we got to play another game.¬† That's extremely tough to do, especially when we're playing all these great teams.
And it makes it even that much better to come out on top at the end, because it's a really tough, tough grind.¬† We call it a 14 game tournament, because that's what it is.¬† You got to take each weekend by itself, because it's a mini tournament within itself.¬† And it's just‑‑ the Ivy League is just going to continue to get better.¬† I just hope it gets more credit.

Q.  What do you guys think of the support you guys have gotten from other friends or people from the University, the fan section was pretty full yesterday, so what can you guys say about that?
LAURENT RIVARD:  I was going to say it's great to see a lot of people came out even though Spokane's a little farther than pretty much anything else except for San Diego.
(Laughter.)
But, it's really fun.  We had a ton of support at Harvard and just around Boston.  And then just to see that many people come out here and support us was great.  It definitely helped us last night or yesterday.
SIYANI CHAMBERS:  It's great.  It's great to have people be at your back and be there to support you.  It's really far away and, for me personally, my family came out, so it was really good to go out there, and with the extra support from here personally and then back at home it just makes you want to play harder and do better for them and represent your family and your University even that much better.
THE MODERATOR:¬† All right we'll excuse the student‑athletes and take questions for coach.

Q.  Wanted to ask you about the sell job to these players.  Obviously, the talent on a basketball court, they're capable of going places with scholarships in other places.  How did you get them here and also, I'm guessing even though they're not on scholarship, there are financial packages that you're able to entice with, correct?
REPLACENAME:¬† Correct.¬† That's correct.¬† Harvard is an incredible draw.¬† There's no question that the brand of Harvard and the opportunity is really an opportunity of a lifetime to attend that great school.¬† So, I think you have‑‑ we have a chance to present our option to a variety of kids, whether they have scholarship offers or something else.¬† I think the Harvard option is one that's attractive, it's one that deserves the attention of families and kids to explore.¬† And I think now that our basketball product, our basketball program has grown, we're very hopeful that it's going to continue to do so.¬† And you're right about there are various financial aid packages that are available to all of our students.

Q.  Two questions, the first question is, a lot of people talk about how players grow over their time, but as a Coach how do you feel like you've grown obviously, since Michigan and Seton Hall, you built a brand and talk about that but how do you feel like you sort of?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  I'm getting a lot older.  I don't know how much I've grown as a coach, but you get a lot older quickly in this business.  And I have just been very fortunate, I think, to be with great institutions and then be incredibly lucky to have incredible people to work with in terms of our staff and obviously, you've seen the like of our players.
We have some amazing kids here at Harvard and it just ‑‑ I'm really proud to be their coach and their teacher and if I've grown in any way, shape, or form, I'm very thankful for that.¬† Because I think as we get older you like to think you get a little wiser, and hopefully that's the case for me, as well.

Q.  Also, just your relationship with Coach Izzo, because you guys went back so far?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:¬† Yeah, we go back a long way.¬† Prior to my time at Michigan as a head coach there.¬† Tom' a great friend and I have the utmost respect for him.¬† We all know what kind of great‑‑ he's a terrific basketball coach.¬† He's even a better person.¬† He was the first guy that, the first coach outside of my immediate kind of family, if you will, that called me when I got fired.¬† Tom has been a true friend through the years and I've respected him.
And you see you how well he's done and the greatness that he's brought to Michigan State and their campus.  And I just with winning basketball games, I think he's an ambassador for the institution, for the state of Michigan and certainly for the game of basketball.
So, I think the world of him and I just, I wish we wouldn't have to have this game, but certainly it's here and I do think that he is as good as they come.

Q.  Your Alma Mater lost to Mercer today.
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  I heard that.

Q.  My question is how much more likely is that sort of an upset to happen now than it was when you were at Duke and why is that?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  Can you repeat that, why is what?

Q.¬† Why is a 14‑3 upset more likely to occur now than it was when you were a player?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:¬† I think we have seen the game of college basketball‑‑ we talk about the parity a lot, I think we see that a lot.¬† I think you see maybe the Mercer team, if I'm not mistaken, is a probably a veteran team.¬† I don't know that factually, but my guess would be that they probably have a few older guys, some Seniors, you see that taking place.¬† Going against some younger players that even may be very talented, highly recruited. ¬†But, sometimes having veterans and experience and older kids can go a long way in the game of college basketball.
I don't know that that's exactly what happened in the Mercer game, the Mercer Duke game, but I would say that that's probably something that you will see in the world of college basketball now.¬† And I think that's just allowed teams, Mercer, Harvard, or other ball clubs, I think to have an opportunity to be successful with their seasons, with their programs and ultimately in post‑season.

Q.  In the short turn around time, because you've played Tom so much, I realize this team's a little bit different, but does that give you an advantage than playing another random team?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:¬† No.¬† They're outstanding.¬† Let's not kid ourselves.¬† They're incredibly balanced.¬† I think that they're playing their best right now.¬† I think they're in an incredible rhythm with their ball club.¬† And having a lot of injuries and moving parts all season which I've kind of watched and from a distance, Tom has had to juggle a lot of that.¬† I just think it seems like with the transition of getting guys back you just feel watching them play and how well they're playing right now.¬† Their rhythm is outstanding and it doesn't surprise me.¬† I'm sure he's brought that team along and he's been one of the best there is in post‑season play.
So, I'm not sure, having known what they have done in the past, or how they have played in the past, teams are always different.  But, there are certain core things and their rebounding, their toughness, that's all there, that's always been there and I don't anticipate that ever changing while he's there.

Q.  You kind of answered it, I was going to ask you, is there a common characteristic, a common thread that you've seen in Tom Izzo's teams over the years that make Michigan State Michigan State?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:¬† Yeah, I think it's people have talked about that a lot with Tom and his team, that they have been tough, they rebound the ball as well as anyone year in and year out, their defense is always very, very tough.¬† They guard you.¬† I think right now you see in their team, they're so explosive in what I've seen and how they're in transition, they're shooting the 3‑point shot, with Payne on the interior how well he's playing and what he did yesterday, they're not any holes in this ball club.¬† That's why one of the reasons there are so many people that are predicting and picking them for a team that could make the journey all the way through and cut down the nets at the end of the season, at the end of the tournament.¬† So there's a reason people are thinking of their team in that way and you see how they played yesterday and how they played in the Big‑10 tournament and it just, again, it seems like they're dwelling and playing with a great rhythm right now, which doesn't bode well for us as we're the next opponent.

Q.  Anybody who watched that game against Cincinnati would say it didn't look like an upset, you guys looked like the better team from start to finish.  You guys are a 12, they're a 5, you see a lot of those upsets.  Is that just the eye test being flubbed year after year after year because of good Mid Majors are better than people think and they're flawed usually at that 5 level?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  I'm not sure about all the seeding and how that's factored in and obviously those decisions, but just think there are a lot of good teams, a lot of good basketball players, and again, with the excitement about this tournament is that you just have to be better that day.  And that's the interesting part about it.  Whether that's us or anybody else, you just have to be better that day and maybe a team doesn't play as well as they're capable of playing that day.  If we're playing Cincinnati 10 times, I mean I would hate to think that maybe what the record would be.  But you just have to be maybe better that day and we were fortunate to play a little bit better than they did yesterday and I think that they were probably say that they weren't as, they didn't play as well as they're capable of playing.  But that's what's needed for a team like us to win a game like that.

Q.  You guys have had a pretty good thing going with Wesley guarding the other team's best perimeter player and so with Gary Harris?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  I can see where this is going.

Q.  But with, do you have any other like points of reference that you would use with your team as far as like anyone you faced this year for Adreian Payne who is a threat inside and outside?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:¬† My initial thought to that is no, in terms of a point of reference and if we have a point of reference, I'm not sure it's someone like, it would be we would try to find positive points of references.¬† But Payne is unique, he's one of the better big men in the country.¬† You see how well he's been playing and he's been a good player in their program since he's been there and he's gotten better each year, which is another I think assign of what their program stands for and what Tom has done there.¬† But you see how he's playing, he's playing at an incredibly high level right now.¬† He gives them, again, the balance that good teams have interior and then obviously you mentioned Gary Harris and Appling and Valentine and Dawson, who is back and healthy, so their team is incredibly well balanced and I think Payne is one of the bigger keys that you can have is a big man that can do what he does, which is to score in the paint with his back to the basket, he can face up and knock down threes, as you have seen him do that.¬† And he's also a big man that rebounds, blocks shots, but it's a huge weapon to have a big man that can make foul shots.¬† And he was an incredible 17‑17 yesterday.¬† So I think that's a big weapon that they have for their ball club, because of the balance that they bring to the table.

Q.  Going back on your relationship with Tom Izzo, I believe it was the recruitment of Chris Webber right where you guys really?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  That's correct.

Q.  Take us back to that time what that was like and how it evolved from there.
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  Well, we were chasing big Chris around and in all the same gyms and all the same games all the time.  So you end up getting to know each other, talking and neither one of us were fortunate enough to obviously to get him to come, but and I was an assistant at Duke at the time and so we were just trying to make sure we were there to recruit him.  That's how we got to know one another.  And as anybody gets a chance to spend time with Tom, all of you from obviously from the Michigan area know that you don't get a better guy and just a class guy and so for me to have a chance to get to know him and that started our friendship and relationship and so and it's never wavered.

Q.  You mentioned this earlier, but when Michigan let you go, Tom was the first person to call you.  But he was also pretty vocal about sort of his displeasure with the decision.  And then 30 days later you take the Harvard job.  I was wondering what your mentality was, coming out of the Michigan situation and into this one?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  Well, you know, Tom has always been I think a friend of coaches in the profession.  I think he likes to look at different situations, especially people that maybe he respects or sometimes obviously he has a friendship with and he's not afraid and he's at a position and a status and a level where his words and his voice sometimes can carry a lot of weight.  But I think he recognizes that and he wants to stand up for what he believes is right about the game of basketball.  So I've always known that about him and not just because it's somehow related to me in that situation, but that's what he's done, again he's been an ambassador for the game, and that's a wonderful, you have Tom, you have Coach K, you have a number of people that and a very few that have that kind of status.  So thinking of Tom in that way and he made that call to me and didn't surprise me, but it was certainly nice to hear his voice and offer support and that's going through those kind of situations you think of hearing from people that really care about you and that was nice of him to do that for me.

Q.  I was asking your players earlier about Harvard and Cinderella status and Wesley said obviously academics come first and he doesn't know what sports program could do to over shadow the academics of Harvard, but the question would be, what would a win over Michigan State tomorrow do for that basketball program?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  Well, put us in the Sweet 16.  I think that's what it would do.  We have a lot of greatness attached to our campus.  There's no doubt that this would be a significant win in some ways, but there are a lot of things that have happened and a lot of people on our campus that have done amazing things that have been much more important than winning a basketball game.  So although we take it very important right now because that's what we do and who we are, but we do recognize there's a perspective as all campuses and institutions of higher learning, they all have that.

Q.  You guys have gotten a lot of support as I asked your players this and support from a couple different areas, the faculty on the try the university president called you after the game yesterday, what does that support mean to you and your team?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  Well, it means a tremendous amount.  I think that we have recognized that our program and the success of our program has kind of captured a lot of folks in the Harvard community.  It's meant a lot to different people, because we are, we're a part of our school.  It's not just because we play basketball, but there are a lot of things that happen at Harvard and people support it and it's nice to that we're won one of those opportunities for folks to rally around, to have community gathering, those are really cool things.  The spirit of an institution is incredibly important.  And for our basketball program and some success that we have had recently, to add to that is again I've said it many times, is very, very meaningful to me.

Q.¬† One of the stats that's been making the rounds is Tom is obviously 18‑3 in quick turn around games, but yourself you talk about how Ivy League is on Saturdays in the last three years you're 19‑5 in those games, can you talk about what's key in those quick turn around games with your teams and during the season how that really prepares you for this?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  We hope.  During the season we haven't had to play Michigan State on a second half of that, but certainly we're used to turning the page fairly quickly.  That's one of the things, our game teaches you that.  Because we're a tournament sport and also the way the game is played you have to go on to the next play whether it was good or bad.  We have to go on to the next game, whether it was good or bad.  And I think because of the structure in our conference, the rhythm that we normally have, which is to kind of move away from a Friday night's performance and we have had some good games and we have had some bad games.  But we have known all along that we have to kind of turn the page and get on to the next assignment, which was Saturday's game.  So you look at that and I think that how you coach and teach, that's one of the things that I know Tom has done for years and we have tried to do it as well, is that you have different things in your arsenal and how you prepare your team throughout the whole see some.  You work on things not just for a specific team that you're going to play the next game, but you may work on zone offense a lot and whether or not you're going to see a zone in a certain game you may not see it, but you're prepared for it.  And our sport, tournament sport, like you got to move on to the next round, next game, next opponent, well you need to be prepared for different styles of play, so you work on things throughout the year.  So we like to think that you prepare for a lot of things and whether you execute all those things, that's another story.

Q.  The guys talked a lot about coming to Harvard to make history, is there any quote unquote like need to win the game tomorrow to show that you're still progressing or does that not a big issue?
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  We are here to compete like everyone else.  We prepared and worked hard like everyone else.  We have been awarded this opportunity to be in this great tournament and so we are here to compete, we are here to have fun, and the main thing about what we have tried to instill in our guys is that we want to make sure that we feel good about our performance.  Feel good about our standards and our identity and we can live with what the scoreboard says.  That's always been the way that we have approached every game and we want to feel good about how we play and live up to what we feel is important to us in our locker room.  So whether that's a need or a want, we want that and I think it is important that we play that way to feel good about who we have been and who we are and certainly against an incredible opponent like Michigan State.  That's a tall task.
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Thank you.
COACH TOMMY AMAKER:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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