Height was the forte of the four game winning spurt which initiated Coach Moc Berg's freshman quintet's basketball season but it didn't prove enough against an equally rangy team of hustlers from Boston College in the Freshmen's Garden debut before vacation. B.C. romped over the rather bewildered Crimson to the tune of 49 to 35, burst the bubble of their previously undefeated record, and throw a little perspective on what can be expected from the quintet in the future.
A winning basketball team always looks unbeatable, as if it had some sympathetic understanding with the basket and couldn't miss. In pre-B.C. days this was especially true of the Yardlings. They were dead-eyes. Against Tech, Brown, and Nichols they looked relaxed and easy, didn't bother to hustle the ball in under the basket but plunked it from where they found it. In practice and against weak opposition they shone.
Five fast, diminutive Jumbos proved to be flies in their offensive ointment. The quintet high-handed itself into a close 70 to 67 victory, but their altitude was almost not enough. Tufts' snappy floorwork and shifty defense successively destroyed the yearling attack and only by practically roping off the backboard were the Freshmen able to tip the victory into their own laps.
Stage Fright Mars Fast Break Debut
To hold their own in full-size, full-speed basketball the yearlings need a fast breaking offense. Berg worked on under-the-basket plays for the Boston College battle but tenseness on their first acquaintance with the Garden and a big audience slowed their shooting and passing. The glass backboards were seldom threatened by wild Crimson shooting. Breaks in the Eagle defense closed before the yardlings could capitalize on them.
To infuse a little speed into their attack, Berg has boosted John Pankey, Dave Skinner, and Quentin Styles from guards to forwards. Pankey is small but aggressive. As a defenseman his shifty action over the court found him popping up with the ball at crucial moments in raging opponent offensives. His sharpshooter tactics combined with the height of forward Ed Smith and pivot Pat McCormick should lend balance to the attack.
Skinner, another ball snatcher, will be an alternate forward. In the past his game has been sporadic, reached its peak against Nichols when he showed smooth ball juggling and a quick eye for set-up plays. Styles will be popping his distinctive fast and low long shot from forward and guard. Not speedy on the floor, his deceptive passing is an important ingredient in Berg's hoped for fast break offense.
Berg Still Lacks Capable Reserves
Steady but not sparkling Jim Gabler is shifted to guard where his smooth, consistent ball handling will be more at home. High-scoring hustlers Smith, McCormick, and Wegner will plunk from their usual positions of left forward, center, and right guard. Wegner has proved the smoothest and fastest man on the boards and though lack of height keeps his scoring from being consistent, his single-handed rushes under the basket are adrenalin to the Crimson's lumbering attack.
Reserves to sustain these seven men is a crying need for Berg. Stiff competition for first string positions on any athletic team gives a psychological boost to the entire squad plus giving much needed mid-competition rests for the starters. Berg uses the reserves he has. The big reason for the 59 to 32 lop-sided defeat that the Yearlings handed Nichols Junior College was that Berg boarded reserves during a low scoring first half to spring a fresh and superior quintet on the groggy Nichols five in the last two quarters.
This however is not always possible. Against more offensively-minded aggregations with a store of reserves like B.C., Berg cannot chance flooring his second team for a possible opponent's offensive splurge. The result: a flagging, lifeless attack and a 49 to 35 defeat.