Sunday, February 10, 2008

Quantum Hoops!

Last night I went to see the documentary "Quantum Hoops" in Berkeley.

It follows the Caltech basketball history, focusing on the team's losing streak between 1985 through 2006 (the year the film was made). During all those decades, the Caltech basketball team did not win a single game.

I bought movie tickets online, for fear the showing would sell out. My companions laughed at this. They were right about the audience turnout. But we did run into a number of Techers in the theatre.

The documentary had a number of clips with the current coach:

He's so awesome.

He talks about how Caltech players put academics first, and the entire team has only six students who played high school varsity. They compete against colleges that offer basketball scholarships, where most players were starters on their high school varsity team.

Coach: Yeah, Caltech doesn't win championships the way UCLA does, or USC. [pause] But we have a few more Nobel prizes.

My favorite line in the film came when he talked about reducing the point spread from 60 points every game (in 2003) down to only 10 points (in 2006).

Coach: [very proudly] We're only losing by ten points this season. Winning has gone from impossible to improbable!


girlrobot said...

I've been trying to figure out how to see this movie. How did you find showtimes?!

Niniane said...

or google "quantum hoops".

John K. Lin said...

That is *so* funny and timely. My friend was asking me over the weekend if I had ever heard of this documentary and to guess what college had the longest losing streak in basketball, and I incorrectly guessed Columbia (Columbia's football team had a 4+ year losing streak - according to ESPN, Columbia had the 4th worst record: ) I will definitely have to see this documentary. To be honest, I don't see how any Caltech student could compete in collegiate sports given the difficulty of the workload.

Having gone to Duke for grad school, I am a big fan of college basketball (currently ranked #2 in the nation).

John K. Lin said...

BTW - Hoops Dreams is an excellent documentary on two Chicago high school students with dreams of college basketball and the NBA that was nominated in 1995 for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing (and controversially *not* nominated for Best Documentary)

John K. Lin said...

Sorry for so many postings, but there is also a pretty good basketball documentary called "The Year of the Yao" on the Chinese NBA basketball player Yao Ming:

Trailer on YouTube:

Official documentary website:

ArC said...

As I vaguely understood it, Tech has a longtime losing streak in _conference_ play.

N, didn't you make some movie showtime thingamajig for Google? Why didn't you mention that?

Anonymous said...

Hey John,

I'm so with you on Hoop Dreams -- definitely one of the top 10 movies ever -- even if you're not a basketball fan -- so thoroughly interesting

Blake said...

They lost from 1985 to 2006 -- Who did they finally beat? (Can you imagine the humiliation? The post-game locker room footage of the losers would have also made an excellent documentary).

Anonymous said...

First, the losing streak involved
only NCAA Division III schools. In
most years Caltech wins a game or two against NAIA schools (usually
bible colleges in the LA area).
Score one for Darwin.

Second, the Division III streak
ended in January 2007, when Caltech
beat Bard College. A weak
later, the women's team won its
first conference game EVER!

Third, the men's conference losing
streak is still in progress -- no
wins for 22 years.

Bob said...

I was going to take my entire 3rd-4th grade basketball team to see this, but couldn't get it organized before it moved on... will have to find it playing elsewhere...

"For the Love of the Game" is another great basketball documentary, esp. if you watch the directors cuts on the DVD after watching the show.


Melinda O said...

The Caltech collegiate fencing team was actually pretty decent.

Anonymous said...

Caltech basketball snaps 310-game conference losing streak
February 22, 2011 | 10:14 pm

Anonymous said...

Lowly Caltech joins top teams with NCAA sanctions
Updated 01:50 a.m., Friday, July 13, 2012