The MIT men’s basketball team, even after its loss in the NEWMAC tournament this past weekend, are having their most successful year in the program’s 50-plus-year history — did you know?
On a campus that seems to be far too prone to the bandwagon effect, MIT students have not come out in full force. For the game in Rockwell last weekend, there were more parents and fans of other teams present than MIT students. Heck, there were more people lined up to see Paul Krugman speak or to watch professors debate hamentashen than to support an MIT team in a conference championship.
“It makes us want to be even better, to force students to come out and support us,” said starter Will Tashman ’13.
But our campus’s apathy isn’t the only thing motivating the true freshman to work harder.
Tashman and his teammates are coming off of a tough upset by the Clark Cougars at home last weekend. Monday eased the pain though, as the Cardinal and Grey were given an at-large bid to play for the national championship in the Division III NCAA tournament.
In addition to the team’s regular-season NEWMAC title, Noel Hollingsworth ’12 and Mitchell H. Kates ’13 were given post-season awards. Hollingsworth, after averaging 20.5 points and 9.1 rebounds a game, was named first team All-Conference and Conference Player of the Year, while Kates, averaging 13.3 points, 4.2 assists and a league-leading 2.2 steals a game, was given second team All-Conference honors.
The now number 21-ranked team in the nation, MIT will travel to William Paterson University to square off against DeSales University on Friday, March 5th; following close behind will be a stream of Engineers faithful.
DeSales, while not ranked in the top 25, are not to be taken lightly. The Engineers, however, are confident.
“We know who their main guys are, but every game really comes down to us and the way we play…if we come out with intensity and play a smart game, we will have a chance to win every game, no matter who the opponent is,” Kates said.
But, how large will that following be? Members of Alpha Phi worked to organize buses for the approximately 1.5 hour trip to Rhode Island for last year’s tournament, but this year’s site is in New Jersey — a four-hour drive each way. The players would definitely appreciate the support. “I hope they come out in full force,” says Tashman, “but we understand that it is a pretty long drive.”
While a small crowd can be expected, given the MIT workload, there has been an inexcusably small following for a team that has had so much success, especially for such big games. Almost a quarter of MIT students play a varsity sport and almost three-quarters play a club or intramural sport, yet apathy for athletics pervades our campus.
The game is Friday, March 5 at 6 p.m. hosted by William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J.
Free bus rides to and from the game will be provided for students on Friday, if is enough interest — a big if. If there is, and the administration decides to proceed with the plan, the buses will leave around 1 p.m. from behind the Z-Center on Vassar Street. Student who haven’t reserved a ride yet are encouraged to show up to see if there are extra open spots.
In MIT wins and advances on Friday, there will also be an effort to get buses back to William Paterson University for Saturday’s game. Students are encouraged to contact Kristen Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot. The time has yet to be determined.
With this recent success, I ask only one thing of the MIT community: support our team, prove me wrong about our apathy.