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This Is Basketball, Boys; It’s Not Rocket Science
By Nathan Lee
New York Times
May 16, 2008

Well now, if this isn’t just the cutest thing I don’t know what is. “Quantum Hoops,” a documentary by Rick Greenwald, tells the story of the California Institute of Technology’s men’s basketball team — a topic that in the context of college sports is approximately as farcical as the history of aspiring semioticians among the contestants on “America’s Next Top Model.”

Established in 1919, the Caltech Beavers (so named after “nature’s engineer”) cull players from one of the most rigorously selective, academically demanding universities in the world. These boys are quite literally rocket scientists — or, more accurately, double majors in rocket science and applied math.

David Duchovny, who narrates this wry, good-natured picture with affable bemusement, informs us that Caltech lays claim to both the highest ratio of Nobel Prize winners to faculty and a men’s basketball team that at the time of filming was distinguished by a record 243 consecutive conference losses dating to 1985. Mr. Greenwald follows the Beavers’ try at breaking that losing streak during the final week of the 2006 season, while chronicling the handful of ups and many, many downs in the history of a team remembered less for its athletic prowess (or even competence) than for once including the father of modern computational fluid dynamics.

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