Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Senior Day Profile: Dan Mccue

No one has a story quite like Dan Mccue's. The whiz kid from a farm in Maine joined the MIT squad back in the 2007-2008 season, and his impact on the team was immediate. His freshman season was highlighted by an 18-point, 5-rebound performance versus Springfield College while earning Team Rookie of the Year honors.

It was then learned that Mccue had been playing his entire freshman campaign in complete pain. A hip disorder caused his bones to grind against each constantly, forcing him to undergo two hip surgeries. Mccue would have to sit out his sophomore season. After providing support on the sidelines during the 2008-2009 year, and putting in countless hours of rehabilitation every day, Mccue was told his hips did not heal properly. Another season missed and three hip surgeries later, doctors told Mccue he would never be able to play basketball again.

But this wouldn't stop Mccue. After even more rehabilitation, the 6'3" guard returned to the court last year, helping lead the team to a NEWMAC Championship and the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament. He was most well-known to fans for his two-point bank-shot in the last minute versus Ithaca College of the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament, a shot that put the Engineers ahead for the win.

This year, Mccue was voted team captain, and has been an invaluable leader on the floor and in the locker room. The shooting guard is also 7th in the conference in A/TO ratio (1.5). Off the court, Mccue is an Economics major with concentrations in Political Science and Finance and has applied to MIT's Graduate School. If admitted, Mccue will return for his final year of eligibility.

Senior Day Profile: Arni Lehto

Arni Lehto came to MIT from Helsinki, Finland, with a wealth of basketball experience playing on club teams in his homeland. Lehto's hard work, skill, and passion for the game earned him a spot on the squad, and ever since, the "Finnish Fury" has been an incredible leader during MIT Basketball's most successful era in history.

Lehto, a two-time Academic All-Conference selection, has helped lead the Engineers to four 20-win seasons, three NCAA Tournament Appearances, two Conference Tournament Championships, one Conference Regular Season championship, and a number of team records. Lehto will join Bender as MIT Basketball's all-time winningest class with a record of 83-24.

Off the court, Lehto was recently featured on the blog for his work with HelmetHub, an award-winning idea that has received much publicity. Lehto, a mechanical engineering major and economics minor, has been accepted to Stanford's Graduate School.

Senior Day Profile: Billy Bender

Bender in his Sophomore year drives past current New York Knick Jeremy Lin (Pic: Tom Gearty)
Billy Bender came to MIT from Woodlands, Texas as a freshman on the famed 2008-2009 squad, and his quirky knack to find the ball and get it in the hoop was discovered immediately. The 6'5" guard/forward possessed all the skills a utility player needs; Bender could do everything.

Bender is considered one of the top defenders in the NEWMAC (Pic: Tom Gearty)
Billy Bender started off his career with a bang. In fact, the current success of the MIT Basketball can be traced back to "The Shot" by Bender his freshman year. Down two with seconds left in the quarterfinals of the 2009 NEWMAC Tournament versus Coast Guard, the quiet but deadly freshman nailed a baseline jumper to send the game into overtime. MIT would go on to win the game and eventually the program's first conference championship. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Bender's heroics were needed again as he sunk all four of his free-throws in the final seconds of the overtime upset of #17 Rhode Island College. "Big Shot Bender" had emerged.

Bender comes into Senior night with 702 career points, 389 rebounds, and 183 assists (Pic: Tom Gearty)

Since then, Billy Bender has quietly been a force for the Engineers, and has turned into not only the most efficient offensive player in the conference, but one of the premiere defenders as well. Bender is currently ranked in the top 15 in more categories (12 out of a possible 13) than any other player in the conference, reflecting his overall impact on the game. He currently leads the NEWMAC in field goal percentage (57.9) and three-point field goal percentage (47.3). He is also 4th in FT% (76.6), 4th in defensive rebounds (4.6), 8th in steals (1.4), 8th in rebounds (5.8), 8th in A/TO (1.4), 9th in 3FGM (1.2), 11th in minutes (29.2), 12th in assists (2.0), 13th in blocks (0.4), 15th in scoring (10.2). More importantly, Bender consistently guards the opposing team's best player.

Off the court, Bender is a Chemical Engineering major, and has offers from a number of different chemical manufacturing firms for next year.