Jay Bilas weeps uncontrollably. Tommy Amaker and Harvard shock New Mexico

Submitted by Blue boy johnson on March 22nd, 2013 at 7:46 AM

Congratulations to Tommy Amaker and the Harvard Crimson, for pulling of the biggest upset of day one in the round of 64

Unfortunately things didn't work out well for Amaker in AA, but he is doing a bang up job in Cambridge Mass. Amaker lost two key players before the season started to academic scandal, but still managed to win the Ivy League, then beat a 3 seed in the NCAA Tourney without the benefit of scholarship athletes

Jay happy:

Tommy too:


matty blue

March 22nd, 2013 at 9:18 AM ^

this notion that fisher has no culpability because he wasn't the one who was handing out the checks is silly.  to steal a quote:  "i'm shocked.  shocked!  that there are players receiving additional benefits!"

i was on campus for grad school during the fab five era and lived in the same apt complex as webber.  trust me, there were lots and lots of rumors that something was up...fisher chose not to see it and skated. 

i was also on campus as an undergrad during the bill frieder era, and there were similar rumors...but those were different times.


March 22nd, 2013 at 9:45 AM ^

I was not friends with the Fab Five but occassionally ran across them at parties and what not when I was an upper classmen and they were freshmen/sophs.  The dudes were unemphatically not living large.  They were bitching about being broke, but were generally goods guys that took full advantage of their all access pass on campus.  So when Jalen was saying he needed pizza money, we wasn't joking.  I still think Fisher is culpable and not proactive enough, but I wouldn't say it would be easy as a coach to see things and I would contend that its a bit risky to rely on cliche "athlete on the take" rumors swirling around campus.   No one at the time was spotting any of these guys driving around campus, ala Lorenzo White (used to drive around campus in huge white brand new suv)  or Terrel Pryor, in new sports cars they claimed to "own".  Rather, they were at parties bumming beer and rides. Still hate what they did and the impact it had, but I hate Martin most. 


March 22nd, 2013 at 10:03 AM ^

You're totally missing the point.  What Steve Fisher was guilty of is debatable.  What he was fired for is not having his program under control.  His program extended beyond the Fab Five.  As someone else already noted, Chris Webber is the only one of the Fab Five that was found to have taken any money.  

You're forgetting about Louis Bullock and Robert Traylor.  


March 22nd, 2013 at 10:36 AM ^

I'm in my early 40's, so I'm definitely old enough to remember.  I just forgot about all of the guys that were involved.  

It really bothers me too, that "The Fab Five" have this moniker as having been guilty for the things that Chris Webber did.  

From everything that I've ever saw, heard, or read, the other four were good guys that played great and followed the rules.  However, they're unfairly perceived (by some, not by all) as having been involved in this mess just because they were there.

Hopefully, if the Fab Five ever have the opportunity to be recognized by the university, that will change. 


Bando Calrissian

March 22nd, 2013 at 9:36 AM ^

There's no concrete proof the coaches knew? Have you read the NCAA report?

Who do you think let Ed Martin through the door over and over again? Who forged Perry Watson's signature on ticket requests for Ed Martin? Who kept a seat on the bench warm for Ed Martin's best friend Perry Watson until his season was up at Southwestern?

If you guessed Steve FIsher, you'd be right.

Let's cut the revisionism already.


March 22nd, 2013 at 8:37 AM ^

Amaker has always seemed like a really good guy.  He seems like a true professional.

I'm not sure I can join you on the "deserves an NCAA Tournament win more than any coach" bandwagon.  I'm sure there are a lot of coaches that deserve a win.  

I'm not sure I can agree with your opinion on his part in building what Michigan BBall is building towards.  I really appreciate what he did for this team while he was here, but I'm not sure he did much more than keep the seat warm.  

I don't think it was his fault.  I think it was just a result of where the program was at that point.  He just wasn't able to overcome those circumstances. 

Good luck to him.  However, I hope they lose to Arizona.  I'd rather OSU plays Arizona in the sweet sixteen, not Harvard.  


March 22nd, 2013 at 8:35 AM ^

I hope he keeps building up Harvard until it is mentioned as much as Princeton.  I wonder if he is setting himself up for the Duke job when it comes open down the line...


Blue boy johnson

March 22nd, 2013 at 9:12 AM ^

Similar to Bill Frieder IMO

Bill Frieder:

Season  Team  Overall  Conference  Standing  Postseason
Michigan (Big Ten Conference) (1980–1989)    
1980–1981  Michigan  19–11  8–10  7th  NIT Quarterfinals
1981–1982  Michigan  7–20  7–11  T-7th   
1982–1983  Michigan  15–13  7–11  9th   
1983–1984  Michigan  23–10  11–7  4th  NIT Champion
1984–1985  Michigan  26–4  16–2  1st  NCAA 2nd Round
1985–1986  Michigan  28–5  14–4  1st  NCAA 2nd Round
1986–1987  Michigan  20–12  10–8  5th  NCAA 2nd Round
1987–1988  Michigan  26–8  13–5  2nd  NCAA Sweet 16
1988–1989  Michigan  24–7  12–6  3rd  see note below
Michigan:  188–90  102–64       
Arizona State (Pacific-10 Conference) (1989–1997)    
1989–1990  Arizona State  15–16  6–12  T-7th  NIT 1st Round
1990–1991  Arizona State  20–10  10–8  T-3rd  NCAA 2nd Round
1991–1992  Arizona State  19–14  9–9  T-5th  NIT 2nd Round
1992–1993  Arizona State  18–10  11–7  T-3rd  NIT 1st Round
1993–1994  Arizona State  15–13  10–8  T-4th  NIT 1st Round
1994–1995  Arizona State  24–9  12–6  3rd  NCAA Sweet 16
1995–1996  Arizona State  11–16  6–12  8th   
1996–1997  Arizona State  10–20  2–16  10th   
Arizona State:  132–108  66–78     



Total:  320–198         

Steve Alford:

Season  Team  Overall  Conference  Standing  Postseason
Manchester (Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference) (1991–1995)
1991–92  Manchester  4–16  3–11  T–6th   
1992–93  Manchester  20–8  7–5  T–2nd  NCAA D–III 1st Round
1993–94  Manchester  23–4  10–2  1st  NCAA D–III 1st Round
1994–95  Manchester  31–1  12–0  1st  NCAA D–III Runner-up
Manchester:  78–29 (.729)  32–18 (.640)     
Southwest Missouri State (Missouri Valley Conference) (1995–1999)  
1995–96  Southwest Missouri State  16–12  11–7  4th   
1996–97  Southwest Missouri State  24–9  12–6  T–2nd  NIT 1st Round
1997–98  Southwest Missouri State  16–16  11–7  T–3rd   
1998–99  Southwest Missouri State  22–11  11–7  T–2nd  NCAA Sweet 16
Southwest Missouri State:  78–48 (.619)  45–27 (.625)     
Iowa (Big Ten Conference) (1999–2007)      
1999–00  Iowa  14–16  6–10  T–7th   
2000–01  Iowa  23–12  7–9  T–6th  NCAA 2nd Round
2001–02  Iowa  19–16  5–11  T–8th  NIT 1st Round
2002–03  Iowa  17–14  7–9  T–8th  NIT 2nd Round
2003–04  Iowa  16–13  9–7  4th  NIT 1st Round
2004–05  Iowa  21–12  7–9  7th  NCAA 1st Round
2005–06  Iowa  25–9  11–5  T–2nd  NCAA 1st Round
2006–07  Iowa  17–14  9–7  T–4th   
Iowa:  152–106 (.589)  61–67 (.477)     
New Mexico (Mountain West Conference) (2007–present)    
2007–08  New Mexico  24–9  11–5  3rd  NIT 1st Round
2008–09  New Mexico  22–12  12–4  T–1st  NIT 2nd Round
2009–10  New Mexico  30–5  14–2  1st  NCAA 2nd Round
2010–11  New Mexico  22–13  8–8  5th  NIT 2nd Round
2011–12  New Mexico  28–7  10–4  T–1st  NCAA 3rd Round
2012–13  New Mexico  29–6  13–3  1st  NCAA 2nd Round
New Mexico:  155–52 (.749)  68–26 (.723)     
Total:  463–235 (.663)         




March 22nd, 2013 at 11:15 AM ^

You may know better than me, but did he have drinking problems while he was at Michigan?

Maybe I misinterpreted your post, but I thought you were saying Tarpley squandered his talents at Michigan because of alcoholism.  I was never sure that he had a drinking problem until he got into the NBA. 


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:41 AM ^

And to be fair or to add an interesting point, the point guard on that Villanova team came out with an article several years later saying that he played most of his games high on cocaine. I think there were just different standards of drug testing and acceptance of drug use among college athletes that came crashing down after the Len Bias thing.


March 22nd, 2013 at 9:58 AM ^

Just a small point, Harvard does not give out athletic scholarships, but if your parents make less than $75,000 a year, you basically go for free no matter if you play sports or not.  A few years back Congress threatened to tax these big endowment funds if they are not spent, so at HArvard, Yale, Princeton, if your folks dont make six figures, then you dont pay much tuition.  You do still need the grades.

Bando Calrissian

March 22nd, 2013 at 10:20 AM ^

I'm glad Amaker is doing so well at Harvard, but really, can we be surprised? It's pretty much a perfect fit when you compare it to his time at Michigan.

It's a program with no expectations, no history, no identity. It doesn't get a lot of media attention, which is perfect for a guy who had a total aversion to doing any kind of press in Ann Arbor. No in-state recruiting juggernaut to compete with. No gigantic state high school basketball scene to infiltrate. He's at a recruiting disadvantage with the academic standards, but it allows him to mold a program of high-quality, high-character guys in a way that just coudn't happen at Michigan.

I always felt like Amaker was a bit lost at Michigan. He didn't really get the big picture of what he needed to do to succeed, which wasn't made much better with the shitty hand he got dealt to start with.

It always drove me nuts to see Izzo at pretty much every big-time sporting event in Detroit, getting camera time and a mention about MSU basketball from the broadcasters, while Amaker stayed home. No radio shows, no TV appearances... A guy who was here for, what, six years, and you knew absolutely nothing about him. He just wanted to coach, not deal with all the BS a big-time school requires out of a coach, especially with MSU up the road.

Long story short, good for Tommy. Nice guy, decent coach. I'm glad it's working out so well for him, and quietly ecstatic Northwestern doesn't seem interested.


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:41 AM ^

Agreed on the expectations and history, but I would say that being associated with the best brand name in academia gives Harvard a pretty strong identity. And I don't think Amaker is at as much of a recruiting disadvantage as you would think. His first recruiting class was ranked in the top 25. Like Harbaugh at Stanford, Amaker seems to have turned a perceived negative into a positive by zeroing in on kids who have both athletic and academic chops. Yeah, he won't recruit the same players that a Kansas or a Kentucky would recruit, but he might recruit an all-state point guard with a 4.0 who is also being recruited by Marquette or Xavier. And it might not be all that difficult to sell a kid like that on Harvard as the better option. Also, the oft-mentioned lack of athletic scholarships in the Ivy League is a misnomer. As someone pointed out above, if your parents make less than $75,000, you pay very little tuition. If you're also good enough to be a Division I basketball player, they find ways to make sure you pay nothing it all. Don't think the Ivy League is all that far above the fray.


March 22nd, 2013 at 7:08 PM ^

By far. It's nice to see his teams play disciplined, fundamentally sound basketball, something that was never said about his Michigan teams. I do suspect that they arrive on campus with a lot of those qualities - I wonder if his Harvard players improve more over the course of their careers than his Michigan kids did. That was the biggest knock on Tommy's Michigan tenure - Horton and Harris were great freshmen, but didn't appear that much better as seniors. Sims had so much potential that was just never fulfulled. Amaker's players seemed to plateau soon after reaching Ann Arbor.


March 22nd, 2013 at 1:17 PM ^

Amaker and Harvard simply exposed New Mexico for what they are: a decent team that had an inflated record because their entire league is divideded beween mediocre teams and tomato cans.  New Mexico beat UNLV in the MWC tournament final.  So, what happened next?  UNM lost as a three seed and UNLV lost as a five seed.  

This is a good win for TA, but to me, it's just more proof that the divide between the majors and mid-majors is reaching "chasm" status.


March 22nd, 2013 at 3:35 PM ^

Seems to me he finally got better once he realized no one wears turtle necks with sport coats anymore. Black turtleneck with a blue sport coat? That doesn't work tommy!