Harvard Cagers Open Season Saturday
Coach, Cagers Adopt New Game Plan
The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Harvard basketball, coach Bob Harrison, has been calm thus for during pre-season practice. Because be is under no pressure this fall, Harrison has been free to relax. Toward the close of the last two seasons, while under great stress, Harrison would often yell frantically at players who made mistakes. When one of his ball players now makes an error. Harrison will walk over to him, put his arm around his shoulder and quietly explain his mistake. The Bob Harrison who in the past would berate his players as "dummies" when they threw passes out of bounds may have disappeared permanently from the scene.
In an interview two weeks ago, Harrison acknowledged that he has reassessed his coaching philosophy over the past year. He said that he had a number of serious personal problems during last season which made it difficult to control his often volatile temper.
The team seems to have responded favorable to Harrison's new attitude. Both players and coaches are enthusiastic to practices and the prospects appear good for Harvard to challenge Penn and Princeton for the Ivy League crown.
The Crimson has ten lettermen returning this year including their five leading scorers from last season's 15-11 squad. At the guard slots will be Jim Fitzsimmons and Ken Wolfe Fitzsimmons averaged 24.2 points a game last season to give him the highest season scoring average of any player in Harvard's history. The junior guard was an All New England selection as well as a second team All Ivy choice.
Wolfe will probably be the other guard. By teaming with the high-scoring Fitzsimmons, he has been cost into the role of a playmaker. Wolfe will be in large part responsible for directing the Harvard offense this winter, trying to get the individual talents to mesh together. Harrison has called on Wolfe in the past to defend against the opposition's high scoring guards and it is likely the Brooklyn-bred ballplayer will be forced to assume this responsibility again this year.
One of the keys to a successful Harvard season this year is center Floyd Lewis's recovery from a crippling knee injury. Lewis underwent surgery in the spring of 1971 and had a disappointing season last year after making the All-Ivy squad as a sophomore. Lewis appears to be having some early problems and will remain a question mark until he gets some playing time in game situations.
Joining Lewis on the front line are forwards Tony Jenkins. Marshall Sanders, and James Brown. Brown has been the backbone of the Crimson for the last two seasons, averaging 16.9 points per game over those years. Brown also led the team in rebounds last year, hauling in an average of 12.2 points a game. This year he has been hampered by an ankle injury and Harrison said Monday that Brown would probably only play part of the season's opener Saturday against Indians.
Sharing the other forward position are likely to be Jenkins and Sanders Jenkins played both forward and center last season averaging ten points a game. This year at forward. Jenkins will have the responsibility of covering the oppositions best big man. As the second leading rebounder on last year's squad. Jenkins will be one of the keys to getting the ball out to the guards to start the Crimson's fast break.
Sanders a native Mississippian will captain Harvard this season. As a reserve forward last year. Sanders came off the bench to give the squad added rebounding and scoring punch. He played the key role in Harvard's double overtime 102-100 victory over Columbus, when he scored the winning basket at the buzzer. Sanders has a fine jumper from the corner and last year hit over 50 per cent of his shots.
Also certain to see a good deal of action this season are guards Jean Wilkinson and Hal Smith and forward Eric Fox. Wilkinson will probably compete with Wolfe for his spot in the line-up. He is a fine ballhandler who will help lead the fastbreak. Probably the quickest man on the team, Wilkinson is also a tenacious man-to-man defensive ballplayer.
Providing help up front will be senior center Tom Mustoe and sophomore forward Lou Silver. Mustoe has been handicapped during fall practice by a leg injury he suffered while riding a motorcycle, but is expected to give Lewis relief in the middle.
New Solutions to Old Problems
One of the major problems facing the team this year is getting the individual talents working together. To do this Harrison has installed two basic offenses, both emphasizing a good deal of picking and cutting. Each offense involves the five men on the floor and Harrison hopes that in this way each player can participate equally.
By only installing two offenses and a couple of additional plays. Harrison is attempting to avoid a problem he faced last season. During that campaign. Harrison tried to put in a new attack for every game and the result was that by the middle of the season few of the players remembered any of the offenses. This season everything is relatively simple, and there can be no excuse if the squad fails to run the offense smoothly.
Another major question this season is whether Harrison will retain his new personality if the Crimson loses a number of key games In some ways the Harvard coach may be like the "new" Richard Nixon of the 1968 presidential campaign attempting to make the public forget his old personality Harrison is an exceptionally sensitive man who unfortunately has rabbit ears meaning that when he is jeered by the crowd, it upsets him deeply.
In two interviews earlier this Fall. Harrison repeatedly urged that students come out to cheer the team at home games Unfortunately when they have turned out in the past, there has always been a substantial contingent which has come to boo Harrison. If Harvard has a bad season this year, fans similar to those who went to the New York Giants' football games in the middle 1960s to sing "Goodbye Allie" and who went to Philadelphia Eagle games to the late 1960s to chant "Joe Must Go might up to haunt Harrison.
Harvard has toned down its schedule this year and will not face the rigorous competition. It has in the past two seasons. The team will not play in any major Christmas games this season and probably faces one of the toughest games of the season Saturday against Indians in Bloomington.