Posted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2011
Matt Patton, a junior at Harvard University, is an RTC contributor.
Loving sports comes with ups and downs. College sports especially come with the knowledge that no matter how good a player is, eligibility only lasts so long. Some programs feel like they’re on perpetual highs, rarely enduring a bad season. We plot winning streaks, consecutive NCAA bids, and even dynasties for these programs. Then there are those less fortunate streaks: Northwestern’s historical absence from the NCAA tournament, Clemson’s perfect record of defeats in Chapel Hill, and Harvard’s empty space where years should represent Ivy League championships.
Harvard Hoops is On the Rise
For some fans these streaks produce incredible pain (Northwestern); for some they produce apathy (Clemson); and for others they scare them off altogether (Harvard). Two years ago there was no such thing as a bandwagon Harvard fan. The hiring of former Duke All-American Tommy Amaker infused a little life in the program. But even in the winter of 2008-09, the games still felt like high school games. There was little local interest and even less student interest. I went to a game my freshman year with most of the student section to myself. My interest had been piqued when the Crimson beat Boston College, who was just coming off a huge upset over #1 North Carolina (the eventual national champions). The games were enjoyable, but most students were content to talk about the win over Boston College rather than make the short voyage to Lavietes Pavilion. Harvard finished 6-8 in Ancient Eight play.
2009-10 introduced the first “bandwagon” fans with the Jeremy Lin show. After a torrid start, Lin started getting attention from the national media, and students took note. Harvard beat Boston College for the second year in a row, and suddenly the basketball team was one of the hottest on campus. The student newspaper was abuzz with articles hinting at the possibility of winning the Ivy League for the first time in school history. Lavietes was packed night in and night out. Coach Amaker praised the student section’s tenacity, and the Princeton and Cornell home games had to lottery student tickets. Unfortunately, Jeremy Lin couldn’t do it alone. The team was stacked with young talent, but as most fans know, youth breeds inconsistency. The Crimson finished 10-4 in Ivy League play (good for third in the conference) en route to the team’s first 20-win season ever.
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