Merrimack College (North Andover. Mass.) basketball coach Bert Hammel last year served as head scout for the Milwaukee Bucks of the N.B.A.
But that's about as close as any of the current Warriors are going to get to professional basketball. Don't expect any tough competition from this Div. II School.
Hammel brings his squad--9.13 on the year--into Cambridge for a contest with a red-hot Crimson quintet, winners of six in a row and seven of the last eight.
A victory in today's game--which begins at 2:00 p.m. in the IAB--would match the seven game victory skein of the 1970-71 season. That string is among the longest in Harvard basketball history: even director of intramurals Floyd Wilson, who coached the hoopsters for more than a decade beginning in 1954, can't remember a long streak.
The Crimson should win this afternoon's game, but coach Frank McLaughlin will direct a squad which will definitely be short one--and very possibly two--key players. Senior co-captains Tom Mannix and Mark Harris have been ill of late, and Mannix--currently residing in Stillman Infirmary--is definitely out. Harris is highly questionable.
If neither of the seniors play. McLaughlin will go with a starting line-up showcasing three rookies. Sophomore Bob McCabe--playing his first season of Harvard basketball--will start in the pivot, flanked by freshmen Monroe Trout and Joe Carrabino. Calvin Dixon and Donald Fleming will start in the back-court.
While Carrabino has been starting all year. McCabe and Trout have improved steadily since the season began. That development hit a high point last Tuesday in the 107-94 victory over Yale, with Trout scoring 21 points and hauling down 12 rebounds, and McCabe going five-for-five from the field and rejecting four Eli shots.
With Dixon and Fleming in the guard slots. Crimson fans can expect a high-scoring, shot-'em' up sort of contest. The Warriors, whose defense has given up about 75 points per game so far this season--often slip into a slow-down offense and zone D. "Hopefully," says McLaughlin, "they won't play slow down against us."
With Mannix and Harris either out or seeing only limited action, some of the Crimson's lesser lights should get some much-needed experience and much-deserved playing time. Look especially for Robert Taylor, Ken Plutnicki, and George White--all of whom should get into the game early on. McLaughlin has been very pleased with the play of the Crimson bench thus far, as well he should be. "The guys we really need--from five to ten--have been playing extremely well for us," he said yesterday.
Six-ft. 5-in, forward Tom Lavelle--who currently averages 12.3 points a game--leads all Merrimack scores. The rebounding leader is 6-ft. 5-in, forward Jack Uhlar, who crashes the boards at a 5.9 rebounds per game clip.