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Mr. Shepard and the Resurrection

Revitalized Crimson Basketball Entourage Could Top EIBL League This Month

By Paul W. Mandel

They're all big games from here on out for Norm Shepard's varsity basketball squad. Starting at the Blockhouse on Tuesday. February 7 against Cornell, Shepard's quintet will work right around the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League in ten crucial contents. If things work out, the quintet stands a better than average chance to wind up on top of the League.

The Crimson squad went into exam period with a spotty 500 record. It had toppled strong BC and BU quintets, won two out of three on its mid-winter western trip, and put up a fine show against Holy Cross. But it had blown games to Army and Springfield, and it had to come from behind to edge a sloppy shooting Brown squad. Most of its success is probably due to Norm Shepard.

Shepard started about as mush from scratch as a coach can start. He inherited an 18 game losing streak from his predecessor, Bill Barclay, minus Barclay's beat playmaker, Chip Cannon, and best individual player. Walt McCurdy. He also accumulated a bunch of sophomores, none of whom ran much over five-feet eight. Shepard put on a sweatshirt and started trying to discover if he had a team.

Within a few weeks he had things worked out surprisingly well. None of his squad was particularly fast--this meant Shepard's favorite fast-break brand of ball wouldn't work. But John Rockwell and Ed Smith were tail and good workers under the basket; be decided to concentrate his attack around the two lanky forwards. He built a double-pivot game around them, and it promptly paid off. Rockwell's work put him among the nation's top scorers by the middle of the fall.

Shepard had more trouble trying to find three men who could work the ball around the double pivot. Bill Hickey, up from the '52 squad, turned out to be chief play-maker, and Gerry Murphy, another of last year's freshmen, began to take on much of the outside shooting. Shepard still is trying to find a fifth player for his starting quintet, however, and has worked through Jim Gabler, Dick Covey, and Cliff Crosby without too much success.

That fifth man, and Rockwell's continued good play under the basket should shape the team's chances in the EIL race. Shepard has taught his men a fine man-to-man defense; their ball-handling was shown by a neatly executed fast freeze against Brown. But their offense has been spotty. During the next month they will come up against all sorts of high-scoring squads, including Yale's fast quintet. If Rockwell, Smith and their team-mates can perfect their attack, Shepard's resurrection of a basketball team may be complete.

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