Here are excerpts from Harvard men's basketball coach Tommy Amaker's weekly press conference on January 23rd.
"They're a very good basketball team, very sound in a lot of ways, and I think they have good personnel, and certainly split with us last year in two very very good games - even the game here [Cambridge] was a nailbiter...Mangano is obviously a force to deal with...he scores and affects the game in a lot of ways. Im not sure we can eliminate that- I hope we can contain it."
On the significance of Friday:
"It could very well be viewed as maybe the first one of the first marquee or big games of the conference season..I think there are going to be many more. But cerainly - even without the significance of ranking, and how Yale is playing, them knowking us off last year, in a very tight, back and forth exciting and enteratining game that they played with us. And its still Harvard Yale, so even if we were coming in with winless records ...it would be a big game for us to suit up for and be excited to play and I'm sure they feel the same way."
On the national ranking and the team having a target on their back in league play:
"Its such a neat category to be in. If thats something that we don't like or are looking upon , we've got to reevaluate who we are and where we are. And coming in here, I mean if we could have said that we would have this happening in a relatively short period time for are program. would we'd be excited about it - we'd be thrilled, and we are. And i think its helpful for our league, i think its been beneficial. What Cornell did a couple of years ago and what we are doing right now and being ranked, these are the kinds of things that are going to give more credibility to our league as a whole.
"You're right about people looking at us a an opportunity to knock off a ranked opponent. That's exactly how I think we're being featured when we show up. We're trying to prepare for that, we know we are getting a particular teams best showing...were going to have to play at our highest level."
On the progress of Corbin Miller:
"Hes' been a joy to coach first of all. He's obviously a freshman and he's learened our system quite quickly. I've been impresed with Corbin's competitiveness. He's a competitive kid, and I think that's really allowed him to earn the respect of his teammates and allowed him to be in a position to be in our rotation and playing valuable minutes. ..I've been very pleased with Corbin."
On Miller's shooting ability
"That was one of the reasons we were really attracted to him, his ability to shoot the basketball, and sometimes you don't know how that is going to translate to the "next level", but that was an area that we were really excited about and intrigued with...but he's more than that. He's handled the ball a little better than I thought he would, against pressure, and his foot speed is a little better than I thought it was in high school."
On Laurent Rivard in a starting role:
"We've always talked about having "six starters" and thats been a neat thing for us. So Christian [Webster] has been out for two games and was out for a number of practices and was working himself back in. We went with Laurent just out of that. We're not sure who we're going to go with this weekend, changing or going back to Christian. I think both of those guys know that our program is structured at this point, you know, that we have six starters. Whatever direction we go, well be fine."
On new dimensions to Rivard's game:
"He's done it a little bit more for us...he's comfortable wherever we put him. He's given us a boost off the bench, obviously hes started and been outstanding or us in that capacity. And I think he's been able to read the defenses, hes been a bit of a marked guy when you think of scouting reports, that you have to know where that kid is to take away his three point shots. So hes been able to drive it, and that's been a point of emphasis for us, to see if he can get the ball to the paint, by dribble or by pass. And he's going to have the opportunity to do that.
On goal of the NCAA tournament and expectations:
"They already have brackets out already, and seeds, but we've only played a couple of games in our league. So its important for us to one, acknowledge that, I mean there's no sense in running from it and hiding from it...but its important for us to bring some semblance of focus and perspective and of where we are right now and how important these things can be if we want to get to where everybody else is already talking about."