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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Men's basketball shoots for charity

The Tufts men's basketball team hit some big free throws last month, and though they did not add any conference victories to the team's record, they gave new meaning to the term "charity stripe."

On Jan. 15, the Jumbos held a free-throw shootout to benefit Operation Smile, a non-profit organization that provides reconstructive surgery and related health care to indigent children and young adults in developing countries and the United States. Players collected pledges and earned money for the cause based on the number of free throws that they hit. In all, the team raised $3,027 for Op Smile.

The event was organized by assistant coach Seth Eilberg, who became involved with the charity as a boy in Norfolk, Virginia.

"It's a good cause," Eilberg said. "It helps the team appreciate things outside of basketball. It teaches them to take a step back and look at what they have that others might not.."

Op Smile itself was formed in 1982 by a husband and wife team, Dr. Bill and Kathy Macgee of Norfolk. On a trip to the Philippines to perform reconstructive facial surgery on poor children in that country, the pair became saddened by the fact that they had to turn so many children away. The charity helps children from the United States and the rest of the world.

On Jan. 15, the team stepped up to the challenge. The Jumbos are eighth in the NESCAC in free throw percentage, shooting 66.8 percent from the line on the season. But during the competition, three players hit over 90 of their 100 free throws.

"The guys shot a little better than normal," Eilberg said. "I guess they had the charity vibe in their stroke that afternoon."

The team was treated to pizza by DiFabio's Restaurant in Medford and Best Buy donated prizes for the top money earner, best shooter, and the most pledges. Freshman David Malouf raised the most money, with $500 to his credit, earning a TV and VCR system. Junior Kevin Reade received a new stereo for collecting the most pledges, and junior Bobby MacMannis won the tight free throw competition, earning a Discman. Freshmen Shaun Young and Eric Mack also hit over 90 of their free throws.

Eilberg hopes to see the event return in subsequent years.

"We'd like to have it again. Anyone who wants to support the effort is welcome."