"I read the news today, oh boy. Ten thousand holes . . ." John Lennon's voice pierced the gloom of the Harvard locker room last night. The Crimson had just fallen, 72-45, to a team it defeated last year and might have beaten on a good day this year. Oh boy, indeed.
Harvard basketball is in the doldrums, drifting helplessly in an early season funk. With its best (only?) long-range shooter bench-ridden with two dislocated fingers, the Crimson couldn't hit from the outside, couldn't penetrate inside--in short, couldn't score.
At all. With 12:13 remaining in the game, junior swingman Don Fleming hit a jumper from the top of the key to close the margin to 41-21, and the crowd greeted the news with a standing ovation. Why? The hoop provided the team's first points of the half; the mock salute from the restless IAB crowd of 1300 burned home the message: the team that won its first three ballgames--and lost the next three--still has a long way to go.
"Coach told us that rebounding would be the key tonight," freshman Joe Carrabino said afterwards, "And it was." Harvard collected its first offensive rebound mid-way through the third quarter, an indication of how thoroughly the Crusaders dominated the boards. And that was when Harvard reached the boards; ten blocked shots (six by Charlie "Good Man" Brown) blunted the fledgling Crimson attack.
The number one victim was Fleming. The first-team All-Ivy veteran had three points at the half, and 11 on the night-- thanks to 5 for 17 shooting from the floor. Fleming seemed more frustrated than anyone--his drives inhaled by the Crusader defense, his jumpers scorned by the rim. Neither he nor the rest of the team can afford for Fleming to disappear into a six-game depression as he did last year.
Likewise, Mannix's absence shouldn't matter as much as it did. Someone else should be hitting from the outside, and if it has to be a big man like Carrabino (hitting 673 before the game and-- ouch--1 for 9 last night) or reluctant shooters Calvin Dixon or Robert Taylor, coach Frank McLaughlin better let his troops open it up a bit.
But this is a young team and bound to suffer a little queasiness over the long season. Although McLaughlin won't say so, the real season, the Ivy League, doesn't start until after vacation and everyone should be happy and healthy by then. After all, the radio's next tune was "Imagine."