Quotes from Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker in Albuquerque on Wednesday, March 14th.
On competing with schools like Vanderbilt in recruiting:
"Certainly its a challenge for us to put ourselves in those categories with some of the great institutions with playing in the larger conferences. When you think of Vandy and the SEC and Stanford and the Pac-10, Pac-12, many other schools around the country, Northwestern and the Big Ten. Thats kind of a goal of ours, to see if we can get involved in those circles.
We've been able to do it. Our staff has worked incredibly hard to identify those prospects and try to build relationships with those kids and the various individuals around them. Certainly having some success here with our program, I think, has allowed us to gain some traction and a foot hold to make our way and to identify kids that fit the profile for Harvard.
That's a neat thing for us to be in those circles with Vandy, and Northwestern, and Stanford and those schools with the kids that we're trying to compete for."
On selling Harvard to recruits:
"There are other great places and great alums and son on and so forth, but we think we have a niche here, and we wanted to present that as an option for the kids that we thought would be viable candidates for our campus. I was just excited to have the opportunity to represent Harvard and still am, and hopeful that we can continue to do what we've started and the journey that we've been on. Its been a lot of fun. We've been able to kind of take it in a direction that we have a lot of traction about it. We're hopeful that the momentum will continue to grow."
On his reaction to learning that Vanderbilt would be the opponent:
"Very honestly, I thought right away how tough its going to be. I've had a chance to peek on different games that Vandy has played throughout this season, and certainly I think the marquee game was just played in terms of their upset of Kentucky.
But I knew right a way of a veteran team, a team that can score. Very athletic, more athletic than people give them credit for being in the SEC with incredible athletic teams that have been known throughout the years in that league.
I think Vandy matches up with all those teams. So I knew right away how challenging this match-up would be because of their coach, Coach Stallings. I've known him for a number of years and have a great deal of respect for what he's done and accomplished in his career.
This team, I think this team has been built, in my opnion from the outside looking in. You can imagine this team being built for an opportunity to make a deep run with their experience, the veterans, their balance and their athleticism.So it didn’t surprise me they were able to make that run through the SEC tournament. Were just hopeful that we can match their intensity. I think they’re focused. They’ll be a team that having come off a few early round losses in the past, will be very motivated and very focused. I’m hopeful that we can match those things."
On the athleticism of Lance Goulbourne:
"Well, you've characterized it very well. He's very athletic, 6'8'', an older player, veteran player and very experienced player. I think he's from what I've been able to watch and see thus far is he's very comfortable and has embraced who he is and what his role is. That says a lot about a low of players if you can do that. It's easier said than done.
But he has appeared that he really relishes his role in being that, as you mentioned, setting screens, getting offensive rebounds, keeping balls alive, sprinting the floor, blocking shots, doing a lot of things that maybe most people, unless you're an astute basketball person or coach are sometimes overlooked. I think he's a big piece of the puzzle for their ballclub."
On the Vision Amaker had for Harvard
We’re very excited about having the opportunity to represent Harvard and thinking of this as the possibilities and potential associated with our great name, we just felt were enormous. We just felt if there was somehow to bring some energy and excitement, present this option to a few kids that could see this as an incredible challenge and opportunity. I just thought that the vision could provide something that we're seeing right now. Harvard basketball being relevant, being national, playing in big games, winning championships, getting to the NCAA tournament.
On Vanderbilt’s Size:
“They are, obviously, athletic and big, Ezili in the middle. I don’t know if I mentioned or not but another thing is they’re balanced. That’s something we talk about our ball club a lot is having great balance. Well’, they’re incredibly balanced with front line, strength, athleticism, scoring and incredible perimeter shooting.
There are no holes with this basketball team. There is no question about it. I think as many people are starting to talk around the country with teams that have a chance to make deep runs in this tournament, I think Vanderbilt is one of those teams that are at the forefront of everybody’s mind.
On who might step up:
“I don’t think we have any one person. That’s been the beauty of our team all year. When we speak of our balance, that’s the key for us. I like ot think the game of basketball should be played in a way that the go-to guy is the open guy. We’ve adopted that in a lot of ways.”
On John Jenkins
“He’s as good of a shooter that we’ll face in our tenure at Harvard. Certainly he leads the SEC in scoring. He he has deep range. It’s been talk about his quick release. They do a number of things to get him shots, get him open. He has good size.He’s a terrific basketball player. You don’t lead the SEC in scoring and win the conference tournament without being an outstanding player and one of the top players in the country. We’re hopeful that we can make it difficult for him as we’ve talked about having awareness and trying to make it incredibly difficult for him to get easy shots.”