That left Amaker scrambling just weeks before the start of the season. And for freshman Siyani Chambers, it was an opportunity.
“I came into the year thinking, ‘Where can I find some playing time,’ but also hoping to learn the system,” Chambers said. “When I was thrown into the mix right away. I was definitely nervous. I gained confidence in myself, basically.”
Chambers averaged 13 points and 5.7 assists per game and was named the Ivy League’s rookie of the year. Even as he was learning on the job, he said, Amaker remained consistent and helped him get comfortable with his new role.
“He knew we had all the pieces. We just needed to make a run,” Chambers said. “His steadiness instilled in us the confidence to keep going.”
As he heads to his first NCAA tournament, Chambers said he will look to the upperclassmen for tips on how to handle the excitement. Christian Webster, the only senior on the roster, said having one game of experience could help with some of the jitters.
“This year we kind of feel like we know how it’s going to be,” Webster said. “That’s going to help us.”
Webster said having an open practice in front of a big crowd was a little nerve-racking, and so was the thrill of walking onto the court and seeing the big blue “NCAA” logo. The game’s the same, he said, but “All the things that go along with it caught us off guard.”
Laurent Rivard, the leading returning scorer from the 2012 NCAA team, said his team will need to call upon that experience.
“A bunch of the guys that were on the team went last year, so it won’t be new for us,” he said. “Every year you watch (the tournament) and every single basketball player dreams of playing on one of those courts someday.”