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"It was a real-fine game. We were in it all the way. Everyone on the squad played, and played his hardest. We proved during the game that we can put points on the board. All in all I was impressed with the way the young men handled themselves, and I am looking forward to our next game."
Do you remember that kind of post-game announcement that the coach used to make at an assembly, school meeting, or after dinner at summer camp? Sure you do. The guy usually had a great way with words: he had to. He had to cover up the fact that his team stunk the place out with its play time and time again. He had to conceal that opponents enjoyed playing against his team even more than watching a Three Stooges film festival.
Your average coach of adolescents had to say these noncommital, ambiguous things because it was part of his job. He had to build character first, rebounding and outside shooting second.
Harvard basketball coach Tom Sanders doesn't have this job. This is college hoop, The Ivy League, and the pro draft--not Pencey Prep, the YMCA and The Most Improved Camper Award. But for some strange reason I didn't feel like I was watching a competitive college basketball team out there last night in Harvard's 82-61 loss to Penn. Just a group of "outstanding young men" going through the motions and trying to finish a ho-hum, well-what-can-I-say type of season.
Some things are wrong here, dead wrong. Sanders himself admits that he hasn't been blessed with an abundance of talent this season, but at one time he was blessed with the talents of Brian Banks, Glenn Fine, Doc Hines and Roosevelt Cox. What happened? Nobody seems to know, but moreover, Sanders really doesn't seem to care.
But let's not cry over ripped Adidas. Sanders decided long ago to make do with what he had, an admirable philosophy that has never really been carried out.
# Making do is not crossing the half-court line and throwing five consecutive passes of no more than three feet, none of which is towards the hoop, but rather away from the man-to-man defenses.
# Making do is working on the improvement of youngsters like Bob Hooft, not letting his talent wallow away in mediocrity and inconsistent performances.
# Making do is penetrating against man-to-man defenses, not keeping your best driving guard (Dave Rogers) on the bench until the third quarter.
Most important, making do for a current lack of talent on the floor does not and never should mean having a basketball program that just makes do for this and future seasons.
The key word here is CLASS. Harvard basketball has been a classless society for most of this decade. The facilities are disgusting and are the axis around which aspects of spotty recruiting, poor attendance and poorer records revolve.
You just can't have much respect for a program that lets 11- and 12-year-old kids go out on the court between halves in their street shoes and take shots with the team's basketballs.
So what now, gang? Another "fine effort" tonight against Princeton? A string of moral victories to finish out the season in superficial fashion? Freshman star Joe Beaulieu says "We'll be much stronger up front next season." Hopefully, the new blood will bring new pride and a limousine ride out of the summer camp league.
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