The cover of the annual NCAA Basketball Guide is generally reserved for one of the outstanding players in the country--usually an All-American senior. This year, the editors have chosen Johnny Lee, a Yale junior.
Ivy League fans may rejoice at the notoriety given the Elis' outstanding forward, but Lee's presence can only forecast another tough season for Floyd Wilson's Harvard basketball team, for if Yale is going to be strong, so is Dartmouth, Princeton, Columbia, and Pennsylvania. The last two seasons, under Wilson's coaching, the Crimson has tied for last place with Brown (and Yale in '54-55), and although there is no more popular coach than Wilson and no more likeable players than his squad, it seems extremely unlikely that the Crimson will be able to rise higher than sixth in the eight-team league.
But considering the state of the Harvard team when Wilson took over in 1954, a sixth place finish can only be considered an improvement. The Crimson had finished in last place for the three years before that, losing all its games in the '51-'52 season, and winning two apiece in the next two years. In fact, Harvard has never won an Ivy title in the 54-year history of the league.
The backbone of this year's team will be the same that has literally been brought up by Wilson. It is a team that saw glory as freshmen, capturing all its games in '53-'54, Wilson's last as Yardling coach, but which has only suffered frustration the last two years.
The leader of this experienced nucleus is Captain Ike Canty, the team's high scorer last season (324 points) and its one-man rebounder. Canty says he is 6-4, but he actually looks more like 6-3, and has difficulty in playing the pivot position against taller opponents.
This year, however, Wilson will have two tall sophomores to help Canty rebound--6-8 Griff McClellan and 6-4 Bryant Danner. They both lack experience, but before the season has gone very far, both should be seeing a lot of action. The only other sophomore on the squad is 5-7 George Harrington, who was the Yardling captain last season and high scorer.
For the season's opener with Wesleyan tomorrow, Wilson has decided to go with his "old-timers." Besides Canty he will start Bob Hastings, Dick Hurley, Monk Muncaster, and a junior Dick Woolston.
Hastings is being counted on to fill the all-important play-maker position. He has a good one hander from outside when he is "on," having scored over 20 points on several occasions, but on many nights, for an unexplainable reason he cannot get anywhere near the rim. If Hastings can fulfill Wilson's confidence, Harvard may fool a number of teams this year.
Hurley, who with senior Bob Barnett, has always had the difficult defensive assignments, will play the other guard with Hastings. Hurley does not have much of an outside shot, but can drive well when his man relaxes too much. Barnett and Harrington will be used to fill in for these two, as well as veteran Al Lubetkin.
Muncaster was out of school last year, and is, perhaps, the question mark on the team. He is very good when relaxed, but in his sophomore year, he tensed in the closing minutes of a couple of games, and was useless. In practice sessions, however, he has looked very encouraging.
The only member of the team, not from the Class of 1957, is 6-3 Woolston, who has a good shot, and is a very dependable man. He did not play much last year, but will get a chance tomorrow to prove his scoring ability.
Phil Haughey, who has played forward for the past two seasons, has not reported for practice, and it is doubtful if he will play this year. In reserve, Wilson will also have junior Tony Massari, and senior Bill Schreiber, who did not play last year.
The team will open its season against Wesleyan away tomorrow. It will also play Tufts, Cornell, Brown, and North-eastern before Christmas.