SALT LAKE CITY — Thanks to social media, it didn’t take long for the Harvard community to connect and celebrate after the Crimson’s 68-62 upset of New Mexico on Thursday. The 2,093 miles between Cambridge, Mass., and Salt Lake City were covered quickly.
“Everybody has just been tweeting, Facebook, everything,” said Harvard sophomore Wesley Saunders, who added that the messages came from family and people he didn’t even know. “Everybody is excited and they were congratulating us on the great victory. So it’s been great.”
Junior teammate Laurent Rivard noted that they’ve heard from a lot of people back home.
“Our phones were blowing up — friends, family, everything,” he said.
Senior Christian Webster acknowledged that it's been crazy ever since 14th-seeded Harvard’s surprising win over Mountain West Conference champion New Mexico.
“It’s been pretty overwhelming,” Webster said, noting that the team is trying to refocus and get back to the task at hand — a game against Arizona Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena.
“it’s been tough, but I think the celebration ended this morning,” he explained. “We had a meeting and coach (Tommy Amaker) was like ‘Now,it’s time to focus on Arizona.’”
GREAT GUARDS: Gonzaga coach Mark Few made sure former Utah Jazz star John Stockton (Class of 1984) was included in a lineage of backcourt stars for the Bulldogs. A reporter, who suggested that the run of success dated back to Matt Santangelo in 2000, asked Few how the string of great guard play has impacted recruiting.
“It’s an easy sell. It goes all the way back to John. We have had a tremendous run of guards at Gonzaga and I think they see our style of play and they see we develop them,” Few said. “We put them in a system where they’re going to run, play, play fast, but also (have) the freedom to make decisions on their own.”
SHOT AT THE TOP: When Wichita State takes the floor against Gonzaga, it’ll mark the first time since a 120-86 loss at UCLA on Dec. 8, 1967 that the Shockers will face the No. 1-ranked team in the country.
“It’s a great, great opportunity and it’s going to be a great challenge as well,” said Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall. “But our guys are excited and ready to go play.”
BUSY LADY: Hospitality coordinator Olivia Hall is wearing a lot of hats this week at EnergySolutions Arena. Besides dealing with arena catering needs for the media, committees and teams, Hall is overseeing things like the media shuttle, transportation and hotels, as well as the hosts for each squad.
Although there are a lot of things to deal with, Hall isn’t complaining — even if she is 71/2 months pregnant.
“I’m a great multitasker. I love having the NCAAs here and I love showcasing Salt Lake City,” said Hall, who added that she loves being a part of it. “Having the University of Utah on a national stage as many times as we can, I think, is amazing.”
FAMILIAR FACES: Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski is quite familiar with Harvard. The 7-footer grew up in New England, graduating from St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass.
“A few of the kids on their team I actually have played with or against in high school,” Tarczewski said. “So it’s going to be exciting to play against them ... and see them again. But when we’re on the court, it’s going to be a battle and we’re excited for that.”2 comments on this story
GIACOLETTI’S FUTURE: Former Utah head coach Ray Giacoletti has been an assistant at Gonzaga for six years. But that doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily stay there. The 50-year-old coach said on Friday, “I want be a head coach again, no doubt about it. The only criteria is — I don’t care where we live, I just want the chance to win and be successful. I don’t want to take a lower-level job in a (BCS) conference, whatever-size conference. I’d rather take a top-three job at a lower-level conference and have a chance to be successful. I hope I’ve got one more in me.”
EXTRA STUFF: Upper-bowl tickets are still available for Saturday’s session. The cost is $70. ... Arena officials estimate that 22,000 bottled or canned beverages will be consumed this week. Approximately 4,700 cookies and 1,600 apples are also projected for consumption. ... Both Salt Lake City games will be televised on TNT on Saturday.
Contributing: Brad Rock