Friday, February 12, 2010

80 Battles and Counting for MIT-Coast Guard

Navigating through the most successful regular season in team history has been anything but easy for nationally-ranked No. 11 MIT. After staving off an inspired upset bid by Clark University on Thursday, the Engineers (20-2, 8-1 NEWMAC) have become fully aware that the burden of being in first place means having to take the opposition's best punch every time out. Things aren't expected to be decidedly easier when MIT wraps up the home portion of its regular-season slate on Saturday against Coast Guard.

The Bears (7-13, 4-6) have lost three consecutive games, and have struggled since opening conference play with a surprising 2-1 start. Coast Guard has been hampered by an inconsistent offense (league-low 62.2 ppg), but has the ability to pull off the road win behind a consistently strong commitment on the defensive end and big games from its key players. The play of Jevon James usually figures prominently into the success of the Bears. Averaging 12.3 points and eight rebounds per game, James ranks fourth in the league in field goal percentage (53%). Other players to watch include defensive stalwart and floor general Eric Hudson, long-range shooters Stefan Lewis and Adam Radtke, and rookie forward Greg Marshall.

The keys for MIT begin with its tremendous half-court defense and unselfish play on the attack. The Engineers pass the ball well, and demonstrate remarkable patience staying in its offense. Earlier this season in New London, Conn., Noel Hollingsworth proved to be a match-up nightmare for Coast Guard, as did 6'8" senior wing Billy Johnson.

On Saturday, the team's will meet for the 80th time since 1947 and a victory by MIT would knot the all-time series at 40 a piece. The 39 victories against the Bears already stands as the most wins by MIT over a single opponent.