Last month, the MIT men’s basketball team competed in the Kainan University Invitational Tournament in Taiwan. This annual event, now in its fifth season, featured mostly teams from Asian universities. Using their depth and size advantage over their opponents, the Engineers cruised through the tournament, picking up four straight wins en route to their second tournament title in two trips (They also competed in the tournament in 2006).
The style of play throughout the tournament was quicker, because of the use of an international 24-second shot clock, but MIT had no trouble adjusting. They scored 123 points in the first round against Hsuan Chang University, tying an Institute record, then dominated Kyushu University in the next round with a 114-point effort.
After defeating the host team from Kainan University, MIT secured a berth in the championship game against Taipei Physical Education College (TPEC). In front of a packed arena, the Engineers were in control the entire game, shutting down their opponents with a full-court press. They led by 15 at half-time, and pushed their lead to over 20 points before finishing with a 98-81 victory. After the game, the Engineers cut down the nets as keepsakes.
In addition to their on-court success, the MIT team enjoyed celebrity status in Taiwan, with fans swarming to get autographs or souvenirs. During one autograph session, William Tashman ’13 and Mitchell H. Kates ’13 recall, “We were extremely surprised to see a crowd of Kainan girls stretching for hundreds of meters.” The team also took the opportunity to sightsee and take in the local culture, from visiting the top of Taipei 101 to eating squid from street vendors.
The tournament championship is a fitting conclusion to the most successful season in program history, in which the Engineers went 22-5 and earned a trip to the Division III National Tournament. It also represented the final sendoff for the two seniors on the team, Patrick S. Sissman ’10 and Willard J. “Billy” Johnson ’10.
Although the seniors’ leadership and talent will be missed next year, this trip has provided the team with valuable experience both on and off the court, and the Engineers look forward to another strong campaign in their 110th anniversary season next year.