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Chris "Rabbit" Gallagher, Harvard's volatile center, grew up playing playground basketball where games could more aptly be called ten man rumbles.
In fact, it was an accident that Gallagher ever played basketball. "I probably would have preferred to play football," he said, "but the only places to play any kind of ball were the basketball courts." "City streets made pretty poor football fields," he said.
At first, Gallagher found basketball a little rough. Only 5-8 at the time, his greatest competition came from his 5-11 sister. "People used to say that if I would learn to shoot like my sister, I'd be a good ballplayer," he said.
Gallagher was a unanimous All-City selection in New York City his senior year. The only other unanimous pick from over 200 area schools that year was UCLA giant Lew Alcindor.
In a regular season game against Alcindor's team. Rabbit out-rebounded Big Lew, 28-26.
The Crimson's Most Valuable Player and one of only two Harvard All-Ivy selections last year, Gallagher almost passed up the chance to play in the IAB. Over 40 schools ran after him, including B.C., Duke, and Columbia. But he applied to Harvard in May and was accepted in June.
Gallagher earned the nickname "Rabbit" in his freshman year. "My roommates caught me jumping rope to build up my leg muscles," he said, "so they decided to write 'Rabbit' all over my gym shoes."
Rabbit's season has been a disappointment this year, even though he leads the team in both scoring (280 points: 14.0 average per game), and rebounding (194 rebounds: 9.7 rebounds per game).
"I've played the worst basketball of my career," he said. "Last year at least I was consistent. This season I've hit over 20 in some games, and then scored four or six on other nights," he said.
Talking about next year, Gallagher said that "the main trouble with me personally and I think for the rest of the team, was that we went into games either too cocky or too complacent."
"We've been playing nice relaxed basketball too often," he said, "and now we've got to take an un-Harvard approach to the game." "To play good basketball we should be on the verge of a fistfight like we were during the last Yale game," he said.
If the final Yale game is any indication of the future, Gallagher and his fighting teammates should finally lift Harvard out of the all too familiar Ivy basketball cellar next year.
Harvard takes on Dartmouth today for this season's last contest, while Columbia fights Princeton for the league title.
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