Shaggy-haired college basketball player Scott Davies looks directly into the camera and makes a statement any student-athlete might: “I really want to win a game.” But at the school Davies plays for, the California Institute of Technology, that simple statement takes on a whole new meaning.
In January of 1985, the Caltech Beavers defeated the University of La Verne Leopards. They haven’t won another conference game since. The odds of losing that many in a row are so astronomical that even the mathematical geniuses on Coach Roy Dow’s scrappy team—which has more members who were high-school valedictorians (eight) than varsity basketball players (six)—can’t calculate them.
Their tale, however, is an incredibly winning one, and Quantum Hoops —the debut documentary from Rick Greenwald—is an absolute slam-dunk. Instead of poking fun at a team that opponents taunt with signs asking, “If you’re so smart, why can’t you make a free throw?,” Greenwald delves into the ironically competitive culture of one of the most selective schools in the country—one whose alumni and faculty have won 31 Nobel Prizes. “We don’t have national championships like UCLA and USC, but we have a few more Nobel Prizes,” chuckles Caltech chemistry professor—and Nobel laureate—Robert H. Grubbs.
On a team where essentially everyone is a walk-on, these students whose extracurriculars in high school were more about brains than brawn get another chance to be athletes. As Greenwald shows us, they approach basketball in the same way that they would one of their scientific experiments—if at first they don’t get the desired result, they try and try and try until something works. And while nothing has worked on the court for 22 years, almost everything is working in this surprisingly inspiring sports documentary that celebrates one of the purest specimens of amateur athletics in America.
Distributor: Green Forest
Cast: Roy Dow, Jordan Carlson, Travis Haussler, Day Ivy, Scott Davies, Fred Anson, Fred Newman, Huckleberry Seed and Gregg Popovich
Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Rick Greenwald
Genre: Sports documentary
Running time: 85 min.
Release date: November 2, 2007 LA