Monday, September 30, 2013

Kates and Tashman Bring Home Gold Medal

This past summer arguably two of the greatest players ever to put on an MIT uniform, Mitchell Kates and Will Tashman, traveled to Israel to represent the United States in the Maccabiah Games. Kates and Tashman, both All-Americans who led MIT to a 91-22 record, 4 straight NCAA Tournament Appearances, and a Final-Four appearance, were hand-picked to join a handful of other Division I players for the international tournament. After defeating host Israel in the semi-finals, USA went on to defeat Argentina to capture the gold medal.

MITHoops.NET spoke with both Kates and Tashman:

USA defeated Argentina in the Maccabiah Championship

How did it feel winning the gold medal at the Maccabiah Games? 

Kates: "Winning the gold at the Maccabi was an amazing feeling, especially on a stage where you are representing your country. There is also some pressure playing with the expectation that you should win being from the US and winning brought a sense of relief as well."

Tashman: "It was an awesome feeling winning gold. Being able to represent your country on an (albeit limited) international scale was a once in a life time opportunity. And taking home the gold was a great reward for us and the USA delegation."

Former co-captains, teammates, and All-Americans at MIT

What was your favorite experience in Israel?

Kates: "Playing with teammates from all over the country and spending a month together was a pretty unique experience. Opening ceremonies might be the most memorable, walking into a stadium with 50,000 people cheering like crazy."

Tashman: "The whole trip was fascinating. There are so many historically significant sites in Israel it's hard to pick just one. I think my favorite place was the Dead Sea/Masada. It was just an incredible view over the desert and the sea."

Kates and Tashman enjoyed their time off the court in Israel

There were many scouts for Israeli and European teams watching your practices and games, how was your interaction with them? 

Kates: "We had Israeli scouts at most practices and games. Several players on our team are currently playing in Israel now and Coach Greenberg coaches Hapoel Jerusalem. They were heavily recruiting most players on our team."

Tashman: "There were a fair amount of scouts following our team around because being Jewish allows us not to count as foreign players in the national league (given that we get citizenship). It was a new experience for me discussing my 'career options' for basketball. A lot of the scouts were very eager to connect me with head coaches of professional teams."

*Note: Both Tashman and Kates were offered contracts to play professionally in Israel

Kates left as MIT's all-time leader in assists and steals
How has your experience with MIT Basketball prepared you for international play? 

Kates: "In Israel, we had only 10 days of training camp before we started games, and pre-seasons at MIT offered a similar urgency to get ready for the season. I think MIT helped prepare me for this. However, European basketball is a very different style and most of us on the team were shocked by the playing and officiating style overseas."

Tashman: "My MIT Basketball experience definitely helped me excel on the international stage. We were an athletic team with a lot of weapons, and Mitch and I played similar roles on the team as we did during our time at MIT. We were both on the court for during crunch-time of our medal round games, so clearly our experience playing with each other allowed us to succeed in pressure situations."

Tashman became the first player in MIT history to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds
What are you up to now and what are your plans for the future? 

Kates: "I am currently in the Masters of Engineering program at MIT, and I plan on graduating in May. My thesis project works with the SportVu player tracking data that NBA teams have started collecting (under Professor Guttag). After graduation I am looking to either continue playing basketball or join a startup."

Tashman: "Right now I'm working at Apple as a product design engineer. I'm living with six other MIT grads, including [former players] Jamie Karraker and Arni Lehto. I plan on being in California for awhile, and playing in some recreational leagues to get my basketball fix. We have a couple guys in the house who can play so it's easy to get a good game going."

More coverage of Kates' and Tashman's experience can be found below: