(This is the fourth of a series of articles on winter sports prospects of members of the Eastern Intercollegiate Leagues.)
ITHACA, N. Y., Jan. 9--Cornell is the team that every coach in the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League except the one most vitally concerned, the Cornell coach himself, picks to win the 1940 league title in the thirty-seventh annual tournament that will begin next month.
Blair Gullion, who came from Tennessee a year ago to take over the court squad at Ithaca, finishing third in the league standing with seven victories and five defeats in his first effort, insists that his 1940 team still is a year away from the title. And it is the lack of reserves, caused by the loss of two men originally counted on, that brings on the pessimism.
Gullion teaches a system of basketball that is as complex as football. It is based on a set-play attack which takes immediate advantage of an opening. But it is a little difficult to absorb without constant practice. The 1939 team did not use it to full advantage until late in the season. The 1940 team might have had it except for a couple of bad breaks which Gullion thinks will cost it the championship.
The first of these is the failure to report of George Polzer, a Senior who fits in exceedingly well with the Gullion system. Polzer was the spark and the play-maker of the quintet a year ago. He also plays baseball (he is captain-elect of next spring's team) and is carrying a heavy academic program. Therefore he is not yet certain that he can spare the time for basketball. He may turn out later, but currently he is absent from the squad.
The second bad break was an injury to Ray Jenkins, a 6-foot 2-inch Sophomore who was the best of the Freshmen last year. Jenkins also plays football and is a great pitcher. But he broke his left arm in the football game with Columbia last fall and probably will not be available for basketball duty until the beginning of February, if at all. His loss has been a heavy blow. Cornell had counted on him to be its chief reserve, even if he did not win a starting position, which he very well may have done.
With these two men missing, Cornell has six players who will bear the brunt of the action during the coming campaign. Five of them are veterans. Only one, Charles Jack, of Rochester, is a Sophomore. Two other men, Ralph Resnick, a Senior who has played only Junior Varsity basketball before, and Bill Webster, a Sophomore, may break in, but as it stands now Cornell will base its title hopes on Howie Dunbar, Wellington (Duke) Ramsey, Jim Bennett, Captain Alan Vaughan and Ken Jolly, all of whom played on the 1939 team.
Tall and Fast
It is a tall team, averaging well over 6 feet in height and it is a smart team, skilled in ball handling and fast. To date it has been used in two formations. Gullion has started his "small" quintet, including Vaughan and Bennett, forwards; Ramsey, center; and Jolly and Resnick or Jack, guards; or he has used his "fall" team, Bennett and Ramsey, forwards; Dunbar, center, and Jolly and Vaughan, guards. He has used them depending on the quality and size of the opposition.
Bennett, one of three Bennetts now enrolled at Cornell (the other two are Freshmen and their father was captain of the Big Red five in 1911), was an all-league forward as a Sophomore last year, scoring with 114 points. Dunbar also