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MBA Jam shows intelligence on hardwood

BY JOVANA SIMIC | FEBRUARY 09, 2010 7:30 AM

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What do basketball and business have in common?

Some may think nothing, but a group of UI business graduate students known as MBA Jam has proven otherwise, coming together to play intramural basketball twice a week.

For the players, basketball is their business.

The group gathers to play for recreation and exercise.

“We all get together and play for fun,” MBA Jam captain Joel Bennett said. “We have a stable group of guys because we are old and out of shape.”

The team comprises 11 students between the ages of 24 and 29, each in the process of earning an M.B.A. from the UI Tippie School of Business.

All 11 members are first-year candidates in the two-year program.

The unique team name is a combination of what the players love most: business and basketball. MBA refers to their degrees, while Jam is taken from a popular Nintendo video game dubbed NBA Jam, which was widely popular during their youth.

NBA Jam featured 2-on-2 basketball and was one of the first games to feature NBA licensed teams and players.

Yet even with their busy school schedules, team members said they still manage to find time to relax and play ball during the week.

“We are pretty busy during the week,” Ben Hall said. “We work 40 hours a week.”

However, despite being swamped by their studies while also balancing time for basketball, hard work and determination have paid off for MBA Jam.

Last week, two of the players, Brian Early and Tanner Scott, earned the chance to meet investor and businessman Warren Buffett to discuss finance — an experience of a lifetime for Early and Scott.

“It was really incredible,” Early said. “He is an incredible person and investor. In the short time that I spent with him, I learned a lot.”

The MBA Jam members manage to boost their intelligence on the court as well.

The squad is off to a undefeated start this season, 1-0 after defeating Swayze Express, 53-24, on Sunday.

As far as their own performance, players said they were proud of their accomplishments during their first victory, especially after a slow start.

“We struggled in the beginning, for the first three minutes, but in the end we ended up winning by 30 points,” Mitch Tanney said.

Bennett credited the comeback to his teammates’ endurance throughout the game.

“Because we had 11 guys on the team, we had a fresh pair of legs, so we could keep going on,” he said.

Thanks in part to the win, the MBA Jam guys are confident about the rest of the season, and they believe they will come out on the top in the Men’s Open division.

“I think we’ve got a pretty good team,” Bennett said. “We might be older and slower, but we are wiser.”


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