Monday, November 30, 2015

Line of the day

Does the name Tommy Amaker ring a bell to any of you?

Line of the day

You lost to Harvard. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
You lost to Harvard. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

I realize that the traffic on this blog usually tanks when I write about the Ivy League, but it's not all that often that an Ancient Eight team does something so big that it takes over the the ESPN Bottom Line crawl during a Duke game.

There it was, though, rolling underneath the Blue Devils' bench as they finished off a lopsided win over a Davidson squad that underwhelmed on national television once again.

Harvard was beating Boston College, the ticker said, and by some margin.

Then it amended itself a few minutes later: Harvard upsets No. 24 Boston College, 82-70.

And I thought to myself: is this really happening?

I mean, granted, I watched the Crimson spank Penn in Boston last year with my own eyes, and I could tell it wasn't all a result of the Quakers' struggles. And Tommy Amaker got a strong freshman class admitted by the school for this season even after the controversy over just how he did so.

But this was Boston College, the team that just sauntered home from Chapel Hill, N.C., after an 85-78 win over North Carolina on Sunday night.

And this was Harvard, the only team in Ivy League history to have never won a conference title, and a program that until tonight had never beaten a ranked opponent in its entire history.

Yet there it was, arriving on my computer screen by way of a storm of emails and instant messages.

"We were a little bit lucky, and I'd like to think we did some good things to put ourselves in that position," Amaker said on what must have been the first ever live SportsCenter interview given to a Harvard basketball coach. "You'd like to think we did a lot of good things, but to be very honest with you, they didn't play as well as they're capable of."

Gracious words from an ACC alumnus - and you would think, given his Duke roots, that he was especially happy to see his old rivals get knocked off their pedestal over the weekend.

The star of the game was fleet-footed guard Jeremy Lin. The 6-foot-2 junior dropped 27 points and a Kennedy School of Government textbook's worth of other big numbers on the Eagles that you'll see below.

Amaker said on air that Lin is in the top 10 of "every major [statistical] category in the conference," which caused me to go to the conference's website right away to check that claim.

The assertion was in fact correct: Lin is third in scoring, ninth in overall rebounding, fourth in field goal percentage, second in assists and tops overall in steals, among other stats.

Now before any more Penn fans go jump off what's left of the South Street Bridge, I would remind them that all five Quakers starters scored in double figures Tuesday night's win over Lafayette. Just as importantly, four players hit multiple three-pointers, including Zack Rosen.

But the spotlight tonight belongs to the Cantabrigians (look it up). And to feed their egos even more, their success directly overshadows two marks in the history books by rivals Yale.

The first came this afternoon with the Bulldogs' introduction of new football coach Tom Williams, the first African-American head football coach in the school's history.

The second came just over seven years ago: January 2, 2002, to be precise. Yale's 68-65 win over Clemson that day was the last time an Ivy team beat an ACC team.

Leave it to Harvard, then to serve a dish of one-upmanship in the middle of a frigid New England winter.

J. Lin
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About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Jonathan Tannenwald
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