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Go up into the Indoor Athletic Building any afternoon in the week if, you want to see what kind of a team basketball mentor Bill Barclay will field this season. You won't be able to tell who will be the team's stars, because there probably won't be any. You probably won't even be able to tell who is going to start, because not even Coach Barclay is sure so far. But you will be able to discover that the 1946-47 Crimson quintet will be a soundly coached team, smooth in its knowledge of fundamentals, and sure in its ball handling.
Like Floyd Stahl last year, Barclay stresses the basic basketball facts. But unlike Stahl, who found himself graced with one of the country's aces in Wyndol Gray, the Coach finds himself with a group of men who, although good material, present he outstanding star to hold the team together. Stress will therefore be on ballhandling, layup shots, and close plays, instead of the more individualistic floor shooting and fancy dribbling that featured last year's five.
As one of the managers expressed it yesterday, the idea this year will be to work the ball under the basket by well-integrated plays, "so that any member of the team can take any shot called for." This may not be so exciting as seeing Wyndol Gray take a favorite one hand flip shot, but the general opinion around the coaching bench is that more integrated team play is the kind of ball best suited to the present material.
The only possible exception to this fairly rigid rule will be guard Saul Marisachin. With probably the best shot on the squad, Mariaschin has brought into this fall's practice the same deadly accuracy that marked his play last year. Although the squad won't spend all its time working into set-shot openings for Saul, it's a good possibility that his arching shots will be used to spread enemy defenses for the fast breaks which are the mark of Barclay's teams.
Outside of Marsiaschin's grip on the left guard spot, the starting lien-up is still in a fluid state been though the team has been worlding out for over a month. Taking over at a new school, with material of an unknown quantity, is not the easiest thing for a coach to do, in any event. In Barclay's case it was particularly difficult, for, outside of Mariaschin, John Gantt, and Pete Petrillo, whom he could watch in motion pictures of last year's games, he was starting from scratch.
This lack of information has also been heightened by football woes. Many of the most highly thought of players were kept from early practice by the demands of Harlow's afternoon grid sessions, and have only arrived at the Athletic Building Courts within the last week. "It's pretty hard to give anyone a line on them when I've only seen them three or four times," Barclay said yesterday. But in Pete Petrillo, Bill Henry, and George Hauptfuhrer, he thinks he sees definite sparks of talent.
Of the three, Hauptfuhrer has been the most outstanding. Despite his lack of practice, the six foot four inch football end has slipped with little difficult into his basketball work. He has impressed the coach tremendously with the use of his height, his speed, and his ball handling from the bucket slot at center. If not among the starters he is certain to see a lot of action on the boards this year.
But once the sportswriter has disposed of Mariaschin and Hauptfuhrer, all the fairly definite possibilities about the starting team are pretty well exhausted. As the mentor outlined the set-up yesterday, Mariaschin and Hauptfuhrer are, in fact, only two of seven men who have the lead in the race for stating positions. In addition to this due, the other contenders for first team berths will be chosen from a group including guard Steve Davis, forwards John Noble, Leo Page, Bill Harford, and Bill Holt, a center who is pushing Hauptfuhrer hard for his slot. Behind these seven, John Gantt, a star of the 1945-46 five, is pushing hard.
The key to the situation, however, is change. Who will develop and who will fizzle are questions which only real competition can answer--"Why we haven't even played a game yet," one of the squad members said yesterday. And whether or not footballers Petrillo and Henry will live up to their potentialities, can only be decided after a few games.
One thing, though, is certain. If the team is disappointing, it won't be because of its coaching, or the spirit of its material. Better blame it on the murderous schedule that includes fives up and down the New England coast who are loaded for revenge for last year's whippings. As for Holy Cross, only victor over the Stahlmen in regular competition, they are better than ever after a year of practice together.
This is not an apology, though, for the team will give a good account of itself, despite the caliber of the opposition. With a few more weeks to learn the Barclay system, a few more sessions to get to know each other, and any sort of breaks at all, this team should do all right. Certainly no one around Cambridge should be selling it short.
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