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UNHAPPILY enough the Harvard basketball team did not finish in first place in the League this year. This will be galling to some, who spent the fall gushing about the big prospects, but with all the trials and tribulations of the season taken into account, and with the amount of Sophomore material it was necessary to whip into shape, the record of the season was very creditable. There is little doubt in the minds of those who are in contact with the game at Harvard that Wes Fesler has materially raised the standard of Harvard basketball, and that the hopes for the future are still rosy.
A Hard Job
This is not mere professional pollyannaism, although the uniformly bright and unrealized prognostications of the last two years may make it seem so. The first year here, Fesler was up against a new job, and a not-too-superb bunch of players; to boot, it was his first responsible coaching job. The year's record was unmistakably poor, but it is not easy to bring a new style of play into this stronghold of toryism and reaction, nor is it easy to inspire a team from which the spark has been extinguished by years of consecutive defeat. Then too, factional prejudice arose on the squad, and the role of peace-maker, arbiter, and policeman was added to Wes' many troubles.
This year the story has been different. The record is better--how much better will be in a large measure determined by the score tonight. League games have been won--the victory over Dartmouth is the best example; favorites have been upset--witness the surprise victory over Brown. Play has at times sunk to the grammar school level, but at times it has been remarkably high in quality. Sandwiched in between the defeats there have been redeeming performances which augur well for the future. The team has gained unity of purpose, and there are no longer players in competition with Fesler for the job of running the team. The house has been cleaned and put in order, and the likelihood is strong that next year will see, if not a championship combine, a team of ability treading the boards of the New Indoor Athletic Building.
In regard to next year's material, all but three men are returning, but those three will constitute a severe loss. Graduating in June are Captain Dick Boys, Dick Fletcher, and Charley Kollinites. All three have played regularly this year, although Boys has been out for the last few games with a charleyhorse. Fletcher especially will be hard to replace, for he has this year shown an ability and a fighting spirit such as has seldom been seen around here in the recent past.
Three Juniors are returning, Graham Spring, substitute center, Ray Lavietes, a light, fast, and smart substitute forward, and James Robinson, who has been used as general utility man. The returning Sophomore contingent is especially strong, however, containing as it does the five men who started against Yale in their Freshman year. Of these, outstanding in the public eye this year have been long Bill Gray, the tall center and renowned humorist and clown, and Leavitt (Levi) White, captain of his Freshman team, and a fast and accurate-shooting forward, who possesses the rare ability of being able to keep a team well coordinated while on the floor.
The other three members of the class of '37 are Jack Mason, By Moser, and Tommy Stephenson, all of whom have seen a varying degree of service this year. Of the three, Mason has shown the most improvement this year, having advanced from the position of seldom-called-on utility man to one of the most reliable substitutes. Not only has he worked his way up, but although having played guard exclusively at school and on the yearling quintet, he has proved himself capable of performing satisfactorily at forward.
Coming up from the Freshman team is a bunch of players of whom little definite can be said. Disorganized at the start, they were whipped into shape by Coach Samborski, and have enjoyed a fairly successful season. Outstanding names that will bear watching are Dampeer, Snell, and Litman. The sum of it all is that, what with a steadily improving coach, and an ambitious and hard-driving one also, a new, and in many respects improved crop of players, and a crop of small Feslers on the way, the sun is still rising on Harvard basketball.
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