For the first time since basketball was introduced in Cambridge, a Crimson team looms as by far the strongest contender for the New England N. C. A. A., championship--and with it an entry into the national playoffs at Madison Square Garden next month. The clincher came as Floyd Stahl's crack quintet extended its victory string with smashing and surprising victories over Boston University and the Quonset Naval Air Station in two decisive contests last week.
Though an invitation will not be officially forthcoming from the N. C. A. A. until after the quintet has finished its season against a weak New Hampshire squad next Saturday, there is now little doubt as to who will be chosen. Bill Bingham, director of Athletics, has already obtained permission from the Athletic Committee for the Harvard team to accept an offer to appear in New York as the New England representative. "Such participation is considered to be merely an extension of the regular playing season, and not a post-season contest like football bowl games," he explained.
Eight Teams in Playoffs
Eight teams will be chosen to appear in the national playoff games. The four Eastern squads will battle it out in New York on Thursday and Saturday, March 21 and 23. Then the Eastern finalists will face the Western champion, chosen from playoffs held at the same time in Kansas City, in the final round on Tuesday, March 26.
Playing without the services of high-scoring forward Wyndol Gray, the Varsity basketball team scored a smashing upset over a highly-touted Quonset Naval Air Station outfit, and then went on to swamp Boston University for the second time. In so doing, it proved beyond any doubt that it is not a one-man team, but a talented and well-integrated machine which more than deserves its reputation as the best in Crimson history.
Wednesday's 44 to 30 victory over the Quonset squad came as a pleasant surprise to Crimson rooters, who had been awed by the Fliers' imposing record and then badly scared when Gray sprained his ankle in last Tuesday's practice. But the Stahlmen apparently don't read the newspapers; undaunted by the fan-shaped backboards in the unfamiliar gym, they jumped to an early lead and were never headed.
One reason for the upset was that the Fliers, a notoriously hot-and-cold team, were lulled into their coldest night of the season. Saul Mariaschin took over Gray's usual role of high scorer with 14 points and sewed up the contest with a solo freezing exhibition in the last two minutes.
With Gray again unable to play on Saturday night, the B. U. game had promised to be a close fight, with a probable N. C. A. A. sectional title hinging on the result. But from the opening whistle it was strictly no contest, as the Varsity rolled up a 27 to 8 half-time lead and 55 to 29 final score. Decsi and Mariaschin sparked the Crimson with 17 and 16 points.
Little difficulty is anticipated when the squad treks over to Chelsea Naval Hospital for its next game tomorrow evening at 7:45 o'clock. Coach Al McCoy's Jayvee quintet also extended its victory string to nine last week, with victories over the Navy Communications School here last Wednesday and Exeter Academy at Exeter on Saturday, with the Crimson taking the latter with a late surge, 58 to 57