When the MIT men’s basketball team lined up against the UMass-Boston on Tuesday night, the competition was not just cross-town, it was also intra-family. MIT’s head coach is Larry Anderson, while UMass-Boston’s starting point guard is his son, Paul Anderson.
“I knew one thing: Someone in the Anderson family was going to win,” Larry Anderson said.
On this night, the Engineers — currently ranked #21 in Division III nationwide — were too much for the UMass Beacons, cruising to a 92-68 victory. Larry and his wife, Dawn Anderson, both said the bittersweet win for MIT left them grappling with emotions that veered across the spectrum.
Until this year, the Andersons have always been on the same team. Since 1999, Larry and his wife Dawn have called MIT home, raising their two children on campus while serving as Housemasters in Tang Hall, a residence for graduate students. Over those 11 years, the entire family cheered on Larry and the Engineers in Rockwell Cage. They travelled on the road with the team, and Paul even joined Larry on scouting trips, helping his Dad scope out incoming players for MIT. Dawn, a photographer, is always on the sidelines, capturing the ups and downs of the team’s seasons through her lens.
This week’s game was the first time that father and son competed against one another. For Paul, a freshman at UMass, it was a chance return to play on the campus that was his home for more than half his life.
“Ever since I found out I was accepted to UMass, I have been looking forward to this night," Paul said. "It was weird to be an opponent though, because it felt like I was playing my brothers."
Larry admitted to some father/son “smack talk” leading up to the game, but when the night finally arrived, they both put on their game faces, just as they would for any other contest. “I told my team, no matter who we’re playing against, we give it our best effort, and we expect them to do the same."
Dawn took her usual place on the sidelines with her camera. “I was a nervous wreck,” she confessed. Who did she root for? In the end, she decided that a good mother cheers for her son. “The night was a bit surreal,” Dawn said. “I was excited because we've been looking forward to this game for several months and nervous because I wanted both to do well, especially my son.”
UMass-Boston jumped out to an early lead, making nine straight shots in three minutes. The Engineers charged back to take a 20-point lead into halftime and never looked back, leading on the strength of MIT freshman Nick Davis’s career-high 29 points.
“Even though we won, it felt like a deep, ‘Final Four’ type of loss for me,” Larry said. “It was probably the worst feeling in my life.”
The Andersons will have the opportunity for a rematch next year, since Paul is only a freshman. Until then, Dawn said she is looking forward to a return to normal. “I’m still exhausted.”