By Jeff Goodman
Tommy Amaker had to take the call on the other line -- and who could blame him.
"It's Coach K," Harvard's head coach said just moments after his team earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1946 via Penn's loss at Princeton.
Of course, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was calling his former player and assistant coach to offer his congratulations.
"It's exciting," Amaker said on his team's automatic berth. "No question about it."
And how are his players celebrating?
"Some of them have mid-terms tomorrow," Amaker said.
Others, like Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, were officiating intramurals.
"We kept our routine like normal," Casey said. "People kept coming over and giving us the score of the Penn game. We got back to our room and started playing Call of Duty."
Then they found out the final score -- and the players rounded up and ran through the floors yelling and screaming.
"I'm so pumped," Casey said. "This is a huge reason why we all came here."
Amaker has pulled off one of the most impressive turnarounds in the country since getting fired at Michigan and taking a job that many began to question his sanity. Harvard was a graveyard job. The last time the Crimson had even finished over .500 in the Ivy was back in 1997.
I covered every Harvard home basketball game for a few years in the mid 90s -- and Lavietes Pavilion was basically dead. Now the Crimson have become a hot ticket around these parts, selling out home games. Harvard earned a share of the Ivy League crown last season, but lost to Princeton in a one-game playoff. This time the Crimson won the league title outright and, more importantly, have earned a trip to the Big Dance.
"It's unbelievable for the seniors," Casey said. "They were the first recruiting class for Coach Amaker. They deserve it."
I remember the day Casey committed to Harvard. He said he was going for the education and to make history, with the intent of taking the program back to the NCAA tourney.
He and his teammates have done just that.
"I'm almost speechless," he said.