Basketball games ran throughout the afternoon of Dec. 9, but members of Emerson's varsity teams were absent from play. Instead, students, faculty and staff were hustling up and down both halves of the court in a three-on-three basketball tournament sponsored by the Athletic Department.
The tournament, played in the Piano Row Gymnasium last Sunday, was open to all Emerson students, faculty and staff with the exception of current varsity team members. Athletics facility manager and women's soccer coach Jason Tassinari, who organized the event, said that the tournament was geared toward generating more interest in the school's athletic program.
"When Kristen Parnell took over [as athletic director], she put it on my shoulders to start some one-day tournaments," Tassinari said. "That way, we could create more traffic and more excitement in the gym with some unique events."
The basketball tournament was first held last year as single-elimination tournament. When Tassinari took over the event, he changed the format to separate four-team brackets, with each team assured of playing at least three games. Tassinari said the change allowed for players to remain involved at the event for a longer period of time.
"Last year, if they lost, they left," Tassinari said. "But this year, with three guaranteed games, it kept people around. There were more spectators in the gym. There was more traffic, more excitement."
The 12 teams were each allowed three to five players, but teams that had more than three players were required to have one female on their roster. The top team in each of the three brackets advanced to playoffs.
The three teams in the playoff round were the G-Squad, a team of Securitas guards; the Hip Cats, a group of Berklee students; and Team Ram Rod, whose members were all former Emerson basketball team members, with the exception of their only girl, sophomore Allie Rosenberg. The teams all played each other once, and whoever had the best record at the end would be declared the winner.
In the final game, Team Ram Rod went up against the Hip Cats with the opportunity to clinch the title. Although the competition was intense, the former players weren't about to be beaten by non-collegiate athletes. A final lay-up by senior Will Sagar clinched the game and the tournament with an 11-5 victory.
Team Ram Rod's success was hardly surprising, however, given the players' height: three topped six feet. John Plough, a second-year grad student, and former assistant coach of Emerson men's basketball, towered over the competition at 6'8".
Sagar admitted that his team's size definitely gave them an advantage in the tournament.
"I guess it was a little unfair to be playing," Sagar said. "We had a full staff of coaches and past players."
Alex Francis, an Emerson security guard and G-Squad team member, was disappointed to not win, but admitted that Team Ram Rod deserved to win.
"For me basketball is just a hobby," Francis said. "They're big and they're good. They're on another level. The better team won."
Because the tournament had such a positive turnout, Tassinari will be organizing three more similar events for the spring. On February 24, there will be an indoor soccer tournament, followed by dodgeball on March 2. A second basketball tournament will be held on March 23. All three events will be in the Piano Row Gymnasium.
"[Intramurals] allow non-varsity students a chance to play a sport they love without the intensity of playing on an organized team," Tassinari said.
He said that he expects to have an intramural basketball league operating for the Fall 2008 semester. Then, if interest and participation in the league is positive, he will look to expand to set up similar organizations for soccer, dodgeball and Wiffle ball.
Although both the tournaments and the leagues will be competitive, Tassinari said the ultimate goal is to provide students with an opportunity to have a good time.
"We want to get the interest and involvement up," Tassinari said. "We want to make Piano Row Gymnasium a fun facility for everyone."