FINALS WATCH: Amaker takes it 1 step at a time

DALLAS (AP) Now that Tommy Amaker has decided to stay at Harvard, what’s next for his program?

”Like anyone else, we’re just taking it one step at a time, one day at a time,” Amaker told The Associated Press from the National Association of Basketball Coaches annual conference.

Last weekend, Amaker announced he’d remain at Harvard, shooting down any possibility he might head across town to Boston College and the ACC.

He’s more than familiar with the major-college game. A star player and then assistant coach at Duke, Amaker got his first big-time coaching gig at Seton Hall. Then, he was hired to restore Michigan’s tarnished reputation. He did that, but his six years there didn’t produce an NCAA trip, and he was fired in 2007.

Amaker made his return in a much different setting – in the Ivy League at Harvard. A program that hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1946 has now gone three straight years under his leadership. The Crimson have won their first game the last two years. Against Michigan State two weeks ago, they rallied from 16 points down and led with 7 minutes left before the Spartans pulled away.

Some might say that finishing the deal and making it to the second weekend would be the next obvious sign of progress for Amaker’s program. The coach won’t disagree, though he knows as well as anyone that priorities are different at Harvard.

”We’re hopeful we can maintain momentum and the enthusiasm,” Amaker said. ”What we’ve always tried to do is be worthy of the name of our school. It’s not always equated to wins and losses.”

– Eddie Pells –

NCAA Finals Watch follows the Final Four games and all the activities surrounding the event as seen by journalists from The Associated Press in North Texas – from the big stadium in Arlington where the games will be played to downtown Dallas. It will be updated throughout the day with breaking news and other items of interest. Follow AP reporters on Twitter where available.