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Severe Discipline Is Coach Knight's Trademark

By Douglas E. Schoen

A crowd of only 600 lethargic people turned out last Saturday in Bloomington, Ind. to hear Peter Yarrow, formerly of Peter, Paul and Mary, sing. Earlier in the day 12,330 basketball-crazy fans had turned out to watch Coach Bobby Knight's Hoosiers beat Harvard, 97-76.

Since coming to Indiana a season ago, Knight has turned an undisciplined Hoosier ball club into one of the toughest defensive teams in the country. Not blessed with extraordinary talent this year. Knight stresses basketball fundamentals in an effort to get the maximum out of each of his players. This year Knight has been forced to rely heavily on freshmen and sophomores. Evidently his coaching methods are effective, as his young athletes made few mistakes against Harvard.

Knight has a reputation as being an almost fanatical disciplinarian. Both Ken Wolfe and Jim Fitzsimmons went to basketball clinics where Knight was an instructor and came back shaking their heads about some of the punishment he meted out to inattentive ballplayers. Fitzsimmons said that on one occasion Knight told a boy who had not paid attention during one of his lectures to run a quarter of a mile to get a blade of grass. When the boy returned, Fitzsimmons said, Knight told him he had gotten the wrong blade and should go back into the woods and get another.

Sitting Duck

Wolfe said that on another occasion Knight had kicked a kid who was sitting on a basketball and told him: "That ball is worth more than you are."

In an interview last week, Knight explained his philosophy of basketball. "I only ask of my ballplayers what was asked of me at Ohia State when I played there under Fred Taylor. I ask for two hours a day of their time and expect that they will give me the attention they give their professors.

"I think there are tremendous resources here at Indians and I give the kids Friday night and Saturday off to enjoy those facilities. But when the kids are in the gym with me. I demand their absolute attention."

Specifically, Knight said that to play for him, "each individual must totally submerge his own personality for the good of the team. Each person must make the sacrifice and if he isn't willing to do that I don't want him in my program."

The Hoosier coach explained that he felt that his coaching style would help his ballplayers in later life. "Ninety-nine per cent of all adult males must take orders from someone during their lives and I teach people how to take orders, in my coaching. I'm all for students' rights, but when I'm coaching, the kids listen to me."

Knight's trademark is defense and he spends the majority of his time in practice working on fundamentals. Early in the season his players work on individual fundamentals of guarding a man with the ball, without the ball, defending against a man playing on the high post and on the low post. After mastering basic one-on-one defensive fundamentals. Knight has his players use these skills in two-on-two situations, gradually progressing to full game conditions. Throughout his career. Knight has had first-rate defensive ball clubs. When he coached at Army before coming to Indians, his ball clubs were invariably in the top live in the nation in leam defense. This was done under the handicap of not being able to recruit anyone over six feet six inches under West Point rules.

In order to develop toughness in his athletes. Knight uses a number of drills which at first sight would seem better suited for a football field. One of them, for example, consists of the team breaking up into two lines at opposite, sides of the court. On the coach's signal, the two players must dive to the floor in order to pick up a loose ball. Most football teams use the same drill in full equipment.


Harvard Coach Bob Harrison, who built a career in the NBA on his toughness, said Friday night that he tried to employ a similar drill at Harvard. He indicated that he was forced to discontinue it, because too many players complained that they were getting hurt. He went on to say that Harvard kids had "very low pain thresholds." On one occasion, he said, a ballplayer had began screening simply when he put his leg in a whirlpool both. The Harvard coach surmised that the reason Knight was able to use the drills he did was that he could go out and recruit the type of ballplayers he wanted to, while Harrison strong, and the prospects are brighter in the butterfly as well with the performance of freshman John Craig a mild surprise.


The individual medley, with Brumwell, Wolf, and Yntema, may be one of Harvard's deepest events. All are capable of going under the two-minute mark. In the drive, freshman star Dave English has jointed a vastly-improved junior John Zskotalk to help eliminate a Harvard trouble spot.

The two relays, however, continue to be a source of concern. The loss of freestyler Steve Baird, who has taken a year off, has hurt the 400-yd. freestyle relay, and Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale, and Penn return top-flight medley teams. "We'll have to make up for this by taking a lot of points in the individual events," Gambrill said yesterday.

"We don't have any real weakness," he said. "We can win races at every distance this year, and I'm extremely pleased with the team's attitude and morale." The squad had, in fact, been working extremely hard this fall, and with the added incentive and practice time afforded by a two-week training trip to the Canary Islanda over Christmas, Gambrill may be able to fashion some upsets in January and February.

It may be that Gambrill has this year the kind of dedicated swimmers that he did not have last season, and this is an important step toward a successful swimming program at Harvard, one that will continue top attract the top talent Gambrill needs to fashion the winning attitude and first-place team he knows he can produce

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