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2013 NCAA Tournament: Falls Church Rooting for Harvard Coach Tommy Amaker

The Harvard University Crimson men's basketball coach—a Falls Church native—leads his team into the 2013 men's basketball NCAA tournament against the University of New Mexico Thursday night.

Update - The Harvard Crimson's win Thursday night over the New Mexico Lobos busted a lot of brackets. Read more here.

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Original post - 2 p.m. Thursday, March 21:

Alma Amaker is pulling for her son, Falls Church native Tommy Amaker, to do well as his Harvard University Crimson face off against the University of New Mexico Thursday night (9:50 EST) in the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Harvard is the 14 seed in the Western Region of the 2013 NCAA tournament bracket, and New Mexico is the three seed.

Alma, a retired Fairfax County Public Schools teacher with more than 50 years of experience last teaching at Oakton High in 1997, said she still gives her son advice when they talk: “I say to him, ‘you’ve got to handle the ball better and don’t turn the ball over.'” The veteran coach and former Duke University star listens, she said, but he’ll need to do more than handle the ball against the Lobos.

Amaker starred at W.T. Woodson High School before heading to play at Duke, she said.

“They have to contain New Mexico’s center, shut down their three pointers and Harvard has to shoot more three pointers,” she said Thursday afternoon from her Falls Church home. “If they survive this first round, I’ll have to throw a big party here.”

Alma, a big basketball fan since son Tommy could stand and play, doesn’t read blogs or stories about her son—a promise she made to him following his departure from the University of Michigan. Before heading to Harvard in 2007, Amaker coached the Wolverines from 2001 until joining the Crimson, according to his bio on the Harvard basketball website. Amaker also coached at Seton Hall University from 1997 through 2001.

“I root against Michigan,” she said. “We’ve thrown away all of our Michigan stuff since they got rid of Tommy.”

With three teams her son is associated with in the tournament, Alma doesn’t waste anytime about how the teams fare on her bracket. Alma believes the University of Miami (Fla.) will win it all, but things don’t look as good for Harvard, Duke or Michigan.

“I have Duke going to the Elite 8 and I have Michigan losing in the second round to VCU,” she said. “I want Harvard to win of course, but it’s going to be hard to beat New Mexico.”

No matter the outcome, Alma will be watching her son’s team play Thursday night, yelling for him to make changes in offense or to call a timeout. She says she is proud of her son and hopes the Crimson can pull off an upset.

“I always call and leave him a good luck message,” she said. “I tell people I get more nervous with him coaching a game than when he was playing because it’s all on him now.”

Do you think Harvard will win Thursday night? Tell us in the comments below.

More NCAA Touranment coverage: 

  • NCAA Tournament 2013: Where to Watch March Madness in Falls Church
  • 'March Madness’ Burger Returns to Dogwood Tavern


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