After the Harvard Classics gutslamming 74-73 victory over the Deer Island Correctional Institute last night, Pete Durgerian, starting forward for the Classics, sat on the bench blissfully piping a tune on his harmonica.
The referee approached him. "You know, my son plays good harmonica," he said. "He used to have 35 of them, and took then on tours all over the country before they got stolen in some hippie town in Florida."
Durgerian nodded agreement, adding, "You know, my dad is a pretty good referee."
Durgerian, who had stunned the court offensively with his backward over-the-head shots was modest. "My hair looked good," he said, "but I should have worn red socks. They would have matched my sneakers better."
Fun and Games
The Classics as usual played strictly for fun, not for publicity. The only person in the audience, aside from myself, was Robert P. Donovan, who perhaps not coincidentally is the University's assistant Sports Information Director.
"But people should follow the Classics," coach John Harvey said. "Who knows? They could have your wallet."
The game was intended as recreation for the prisoners at Deer Island, who are serving short sentences of six months to five years. One of the Classics, Kevin McClusky, chatted after the game with an Islander from his high school in Dorchester.
The gym at Deer Island, like Fenway Park, creates special problems, giving a slight advantage to the home team. It is only a foot wider on each side than the width of the basketball court itself, and the floor is of slick concrete. During the game players frequently smacked into the wall or bruised their knuckles trying to save the ball from going out of bounds.
At first, the game looked like a romp for the Classics. When Deer Island called the first time out, trailing 11-6, Harvey told his players not to let "the noise from the crowd" bother them.
But when the score climbed to 18-10, the Classics started getting sloppy. Passes began sailing into empty air, to the referee, or (most often) into the arms of the Islanders.
The Islanders, in turn, became suddently hot, and were able to bring the score to a 34-34 tie 45 seconds before the end of the first half. The teams stayed within four points of each other for the rest of the game.
The Classics sunk the winning field goal with 30 seconds left.
The close margin in the second half tended to drain the Classics' characteristic frivolity. Joel Fisher, the team chauffeur ("best driver") explained, "We want to win. It's tough to have fun when you don't play good people. The games we win by 40 points we never enjoy."
But Kevin Kallaugher blithely disagreed. "We play close games every now and then," he said, "to persuade everyone that they ought to keep coming to practice."