Three season ago, the Crimson lost all 12 of its Ivy League basketball games and finished in last place. The varsity won twice in each of the last two seasons, but failed to improve its placing. This year there is a new coach at the L.A.B. and some promising sophomores, but they may still find it hard to open the cellar door.
Floyd Wilson, whose freshman team was undefeated last year, and who has replaced Norm Shepard as head coach, said yesterday. "I'm a pessimist all right, but I'll be very surprised if this team wins as many games as last year's." The Crimson had a 9-16 record in 1953-54.
Last year the Crimson started out well, winning four in a row, and losing to Navy by one field goal. But suddenly the team completely collapsed, and it lost its last 11 games in a row it looked, disorganized, uninspired, and, in general, like the last place team it was.
Wilson was able to compile excellent records with his freshman teams, and if he can get his varsity to work together, something it hasn't done in three yeas, there is an outside chance the season could turn out favorably for the Crimson.
Senior Harry sacks is the only player on the stating five against Northeastern Monday of any renown. Having tied for the fifth position on the Ivy League's second team last year, he holds the League record for the most foul shots in a season. The 6-3 center from Long Beach, N.Y., however, couldn't carry the team last year, and be won't be able to do it alone this year.
Three seniors, Captain Roger Bulger, Rollin Perry, and Dick Manning, and last year's freshman captain, Bob Dolven, will fill the other four posts.
Bulger, a 5-10 playmaker from Hollis, L.L., and 6-1 Dolven, from Wilmar, Minn., have the best outside shots on the team.
Dolven has an accurate one hander and a good jump shot form outside the foul circle. Bulger relies on the two hand not shot.
Momestead, Pa.'s Manning, who stands 6-3, but who jumps as if he were 6-5, will do most of the rebounding with Sacks, and 6-1 Porry from Long Beach, N.Y.
Before the season has progressed very far, however, there is a strong likelihood that the present starting lineup will not be intact. When Wilson moved to the varsity he brought a whole group of spirited sophomores with him. Dolven is on the first team, but players like Canty, Phil Haughey, Lou Lowenfels, and Neil Muncaster do not want to sit on the bench. The daily scrimmages to determine the starting team have been very rough, with tempers often flaring.
Good Reserve Height
With Canty at 6-3, Hanghey at 6-4, and junior Ed Bowman at 6-3, Wilson should have good reserve height; Lowenfels and Muncaster are good floor men.
The Crimson's weakest link so far is its offense, with pivot man Sacks being asked to bear most of the burden. Wilson is trying to compensate for this with a switching man-to-man defense, and a slow possession-type offense to keep the ball away from the opponent as long as possible.
The schedule doesn't help the Crimson, either. Of its first six games, only one is home, the League opener against Brown, Wednesday. It takes to the road next Friday for a game at Syracuse, followed by an encounter at Cornell Saturday. The following week's games will be at Middlebury and Dartmouth.
It's too early to predict accurately just how well Harvard will do this season. It can't do much worse than it has done the past few years, but this will be a building year for Wilson, and he will be happy if it just finished higher than last place, a not too impossible feat.