Bob Hooft is not a particularly extraordinary guy. Tall (6-5), thin for his height (190) and soft-spoken, Hooft doesn't cut a very distinct figure in the Kirkland House dining hall. Neither does he dazzle you on the basketball court. What he does do, on a team that is 6-15 so far, is cope. And he does it very well.
Forced by circumstances to play forward--his normal position is guard--and hobbled by minor injuries early in the season, Hooft has still managed to be third on the team in scoring (9.6 points a game) and in rebounding (4.7 a game).
But it has not been the best of seasons for the sophomore. At one point during a game against UConn, Hooft was the tallest player in a Harvard lineup that had to wage battle against a Huskie lineup that included a 6-8 forward, 6-10 center, and a 6-10 forward. Hooft has taken a beating.
"Things didn't look too bad at the beginning of the season," the thick, brown-haired Hooft said yesterday, "but then Doc Hines and Rosey Cox quit. They were both big guys up front, and it's easy to see that we've got a problem up front."
To make up for the problem, coach Satch Sanders moved Hooft to the front line. Playing with his back to the basket--something he has never done before--has not exactly helped Hooft's individual game. As a guard on the freshman team, he averaged over 22 points a game. This year he averages less than half that.
"All year long we've been banged around up there," says Hooft. "I'm doing my best to hit the bards, but I'm just strong enough.."
So the season has been, in a sense, one of sacrifice for Hooft--at least offensively, where he has had to do a lot less shooting than last year. and the lefty can shoot. During last Saturday's game against Princeton, Tiger coach Pete Carril had one constant message to give his team during time-outs in the second half: "Watch that number 15," he barked in his Buggsy Moran voice, "he's a shooter. He's a shooter."
Hooft does not think the season is quite as bad as it may look. "This year has been good for me as far as leaning how to play forward," he says, adding, "even if I do play guard, I can go back to forward. And besides, Satch really knows how to teach.
Playing the forward slot is not the only problem Hooft has had to face this year, though. He and his teammates must play their home games in the IAB, which rivals a medieval cathedral in its game-time sound level and is pretty much reminiscent of the Dark Ages in its construction, too. The arena is nearly four floors up from ground level, seats only 1500, and has bad lighting.
"It's just a weird set-up," says Hooft, "having to climb four flights of stairs to see a game." He continues, "the thing I don't like about it is the sparse crowds. I don't care what anybody says--you just play better with a big crowd, as we did against Princeton."
Just a Little
Another problem has been the disappointing way the season has tuned out for Hooft and his teammates. "we've played our best against some good teams," he says, but "they're just a little stronger than we are."
Hooft manages to hold his own, though, and he is not too worried about the end of this season or the prospects for the next one.
"The biggest thing this year is that the attitude has really picked up, and all the seniors are looking to start something for the upcoming years," Hooft says.