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The Amherst problem: Jumbos to take sibling rivalry head−on

Published: Friday, February 1, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 11:02

To prove itself, Tufts is going to need to find a way to win at LeFrak Gym, a stronghold where the Lord Jeffs have not lost since Jan. 30, 2009. A cross between a longhouse and a basketball court, the gym sports large empty spaces behind the hoops and a raucous crowd. There aren’t many tougher places to go in and win in Div. III.

“It is a different environment [than other team’s gyms],” Moynihan said. “You go there, and it’s this big dome and there’s space behind the hoops, and it’s just a matter of getting your bearings. And I think they definitely have that home−court vibe. It’s tough. They have fans, they have parents. I think it’s their senior day. But hopefully on Saturday we’ll have fans, we’ll have a voice.”

Luckily for the Jumbos, they will be playing against an Amherst lineup not quite as privy to the rivalry’s history as past squads. The Lord Jeffs turned over almost their entire starting lineup from last season, including five seniors that all saw significant minutes, and will have plenty of fresh faces come tipoff on Saturday. The younger Amherst squad has stumbled at times, but remains undefeated, and will be no pushover for Tufts.

“This year, they aren’t putting up the numbers offensively that they have in years past,” Barnosky said. “But they’re just disciplined, and I think we aren’t as disciplined or as consistent in our discipline, but we take pride in outworking our opponent, and we need to do that to beat them on their own court.”

The hype for this game has become palpable. Representatives from D3hoops.com will be descending on Amherst, Mass. to broadcast the game themselves, and there is little doubt that it will be one of the biggest games in program history — right up there with the team’s Elite Eight matchup in 2008.

“These types of games are the ones you look forward to in your college career,” Barnosky said. It’s an awesome opportunity to play a really top opponent.”

Big sister is vulnerable, but there is no chance that the Lord Jeffs will go down without a fight. Still, if there was ever a time to solve the Amherst problem, to get the monkey off their back, you have to believe it’s now.

“They are a rival, and it’s going to be a great atmosphere on Saturday and I’m psyched about it,” Moynihan said. “There’s going to be an energy on the court, and I hope we take that energy and make something really positive out of it.”

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