THE SPORTING SCENE
Mr. Smith Goes to Town
Ed Smith settled his six feet, six inches (plus) into two of the Varsity Club's cushioned lounge chairs and said: "I've had a wonderful time these last two weeks." The thin man from Columbus, captain of the 1950-51 varsity basketball team and an All-Ivy and All-New England first team selection, tuned down the radio at his elbow and explained just what he had been doing during the past fortnight.
It all started when the New York Herald Tribune invited Smith to play on an 11-man Eastern College All-Star squad in that newspaper's sixth annual East-West game. The game was played on March 31 in New York's Madison Square Garden and the West won, 75 to 59.
Smith arrived in New York on the Monday preceding the game, which was held on Saturday night. Both teams, whose rosters included most of the finest college seniors in the land, were accommodated at the Hotel Piccadilly. The East, coached by Long Island University's Clair Bee, scrimmaged the New York Knickerbockers on Tuesday, then held intra-squad workouts for the rest of the week.
What did Smith think of Bee as a coach?
"He didn't have time to teach us much of anything, but considering all he's gone through I'm surprised he agreed to coach us at all. Mr. Bee has done an awful lot for basketball and he's a wonderful man. It's a shame it had to happen to his team."
Was any mention made of the fixes? Were the players warned against possible bribes?
"Things were a little tense until Mr. Bee spoke for two or three minutes at our first meeting. He said he's still willing to stand behind those men. He still believes they're innocent."
Smith played approximately 14 minutes of the game. He took seven shots from scrimmage and made one, as well as two free throws. On defense, Smith was assigned to six-eleven Marc Freiberger, of Oklahoma, and guarded him well enough in the bucket. But when Freiberger stayed outside, there was little Smith could do to stop his set shots. The West's amazing outside shooting won the game.
"We didn't really have a set pattern," Smith pointed out, "which is probably why we lost. We were just supposed to crows the bucket on defense. Mr. Bee wasn't at all strict with us in practice, as I'd heard he was with his own boys. All of us were used to handling the ball a lot and he just sort of fitted us in where he thought we'd do the most good."
How did Smith like playing in the Garden?
"I thought I was going to be nervous, but I wasn't It didn't really make much difference. There were only about 14,000 there and they weren't rooting for one side or the other. It's a nice place to play in. It gives you a good feeling."
Incidentally, Smith established a record of sorts during the game, since his four points are high for a Harvard player in East-West competition. George Hauptfuhrer, the Crimson's only other representative, scored three points in the 1948 game.
But the best was still to come. After the East-West game, the fabulous Harlem Globetrotters organized an 18-game tour against the College All-Stars. Many of the collegians were asked to make the safari, but some declined in order to preserve their amateur status and play A.A.U. ball.
Smith, however, is not immune to accepting $100 for an evening of basketball, in addition to an Elgin watch and a G.E. clock-radio, or to travelling in chartered airplanes. Accordingly, he played six games last week with the collegians and led them to their first victory over the Globetrotters in this series with a 22-point performance in Buffalo last Tuesday night. This, too, was a record, briefly. Paul Arizin's 21 points, scored last year, were the previous high. Another collegian scored 24 in Kansas City the other night to break Smith's record and pace the All-Stars to their second victory.
The tour began in New York on the afternoon following the East-West game. From there, the encourage proceeded to Hershey, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. Smith plans to rejoin the group in St. Louis this Sunday, then play at Indianapolis on Monday, Detroit on Tuesday, Milwaukee on Wednesday, and Boston on Thursday in the final game of the trip. He will then fly to New York for a team banquet at Toots Shor's on Saturday. In addition to both teams, the troupe includes a few Jugglers, two Chinese acrobats, and a band.
The players spend about one and one-half hours a day flying and have the rest of the afternoon free up until game time. They stay in the best hotels, with the Globetrotters footing the bills. At game time, each player receives a 30-second introduction complete with spotlights.
What is it like plying against the Globetrotters?
"It's really a thrill. They play to win and they don't horse around unless they get about ten points ahead. The Minneapolis Lakers were the only ones to beat them this year until we did in Buffalo. But when they do horse around they make you feel like an ass. You don't like it when you're out there, but when you're not in the game you have to admit they're comical. They get a lot of publicity. Bill Veeck owns a part interest and the papers really play up anything he says. He claims the Globetrotters are going to play behind the Iron curtain. Maybe they are, for all I know."
How do you like playing with the country's top college ball players?
It's good, because you can depend on everybody; no matter who comes into the game you know he isn't going to throw the ball away. We don't have too much set stuff, you're on you own a lot. We see who's having a good night and the ball kind of floats his way."
What about professional basketball?
"The Globetrotter coach, Abe Saperstein, told me three clubs came to him and said they'd take me if they got first crack at me in the draft. That comes up this week or next, and I won't know anything definite until then. I've written or talked to New York, Syracuse, and Baltimore. Oh, about the other draft--I'm supposed to report to the Army in June."