Having dropped six of their past seven games, the sagging men’s basketball team eagerly awaits the return of Alex Gamboa ’05, last season’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year, for Friday’s contest at Brown.

Gamboa had his appendix removed Jan. 11. While letting his sutures heal, he has not been able to practice fully, but he hopes he will be cleared to play when he visits his surgeon Thursday.

Captain Chris Leanza ’03 has handled most of the point guard duties in Gamboa’s absence. Gamboa is averaging 22.5 minutes and 5.6 points this winter.

In preparation for his return, Gamboa, who started eight of the 11 games in which he appeared, has been running and trying to get back in playing shape. He said he hopes he can bring a spark to the team with his return.

“Sitting out the games has really made me appreciate how much I love to play and compete, and I think it has lit a fire in me that will hopefully translate out to some extra energy out on the court,” Gamboa said.

Gamboa was the Most Valuable Player of the Phoenix Classic earlier this season when he led the Bulldogs to victories over Holy Cross and Central Connecticut. His return will strengthen Yale’s deep threat; Gamboa is shooting 38.7 percent from behind the arc this season.

Josh Hill ’04 is also nursing an injury, but he will not return to the team this season. Hill had been bothered by a hernia throughout the season and decided to leave school for a medical redshirt. When he returns, he will have three semesters of eligibility remaining.

By redshirting, an athlete foregoes his or her athletic eligibility and withdraws from school for the remainder of the semester to avoid losing a season of eligibility because of injury. An athlete may take a medical redshirt if he or she has played in no more than 20 percent of a team’s games for the season.

Before leaving the team, Hill appeared in five games and averaged 4.4 points. His highest output came Dec. 5 against Sacred Heart, when he scored eight points and had four rebounds.

Hill’s departure has forced Justin Simon ’04 to step into the backup center role behind T.J. McHugh ’03. On his return next winter, Hill will join Dominick Martin ’05 and Simon in a McHugh-less frontcourt. Martin transferred from Princeton this season but must sit out the year because of NCAA regulations.

Women’s team

Two members of the women’s basketball team recently returned to action after healing from injuries. In Yale’s 84-77 loss to Brown this weekend, captain Maria Smear ’03 returned to her normal role after missing most of the previous six games. Brynn Gingras ’04 also resumed as point guard after an ankle sprain kept her on the sidelines.

The Elis hope to avenge their loss to the Bears this weekend with a healed and complete contingent.