St. Joseph's No. 1 (Scouting Reports, Dec. 6)?
In Philadelphia's infamous Palestra, St. Joe's may be No. 1, but certainly not in the country as a whole. Beating the Hawks in that hard-court snake pit is like running up Mt. Everest barefooted. But get them out of the Palestra and they're mediocre.
THOMAS D. LIPS
If they are not playing eastern powerhouses like Fairfield, Albright and Lafayette, St. Joseph's can't win across the street from the sheltered Palestra. They will continue to overwhelm such teams all season. However, come the NCAA finals in March, the story will be the same as it is year after year after year: the East a loser again.
MAVOR R. HEDBERG
Highland Park, Ill.
Thanks for selecting St. Joseph's College as No. 1. St. Joe's in recent years has been one of the most spirited colleges in the nation, especially at the Palestra, the home of the Big Five. I'm sure that your selection of St. Joseph's will increase the enthusiasm of both the players and the fans even more.
I feel it is my obligation to inform you of how greatly you erred.
Van Nuys, Calif.
To anyone reviewing your top 20 basketball ratings it is plain to see it took two "experts" to do the rating, the one who held the hat and the one who drew the names from it. Minnesota must have been stuck in the hatband.
How could you possibly leave out Minnesota? Both the Associated Press and United Press International have them rated in the top 10, but you don't even mention them.
E. N. BALE
The University of Dayton finished with a 22-7 record and a bid to the NCAA tournament from the tough midwestern district. The Flyers have lost only one player from that squad, and you didn't even rate them.
STEPHEN J. STEINER
St. John's not in the top 20? You've got to be kidding!
Middle Village, N.Y.
You can't please 'em all, that's for sure, but how can you leave out the schools in Utah, the basketball capital of the West? By season's end Brigham Young University and Utah may both be in the top 20—especially BYU, already averaging 100-plus points per game.
We at Bradley were extremely upset by your reason for picking the Braves 12th in the nation. You devote almost a full column to the length of the varsity players' socks. Where would they finish with short socks?
I hope you, and Mervin Hyman in particular, have taken due notice of the short Shocks (average height 6 feet 1[1/5]) of Wichita State and their exciting 100-94 victory over a fine Michigan team.
TOM J. GILMORE
Many thanks for your interesting and informative article, A Press that Panics Them All (Dec. 6). Not only do you manage to provide entertainment in this essay, you also provide ideas and instruction for the volunteer coaches who work with the many youth teams in our YMCA basketball league.
The "coaching clinics" that our part-time coaches attend are limited to mimeographed sheets passed out following a 15-minute talk given by a local coach or official. More informative and diagramed articles of this type will help to improve on our clinics—so keep them coming!
Sioux Falls, S. Dak.
Mervin Hyman discusses the now-famous zone press of UCLA as a relatively new weapon in college basketball. Well, it certainly is not new to Illinois high school basketball.
In the Illinois Sweet 16 tournament of 1952, George Latham and his Quincy High Blue Devils used the zone press to beat Mt. Vernon High School in the semifinal game. As I recall, it was a 2-2-1 press. Latham, a master of pattern-style basketball, introduced the zone press as a surprise tactic to break the rhythm of the opponent's offense and force them into costly mechanical errors.
Last year Sherrill Hanks, present Quincy High coach, used the zone press to overcome half-time deficits in the final five games of the Illinois tournament against the state's finest teams, losing finally in the championship game to Collinsville, Ill. by three points. Incidentally, the game was an interesting clash between two teams who each use the zone press as a basic plan of attack.
Latham used to say that a good defense was the best offense. UCLA, Quincy High and Collinsville High are certainly proving him correct.
I have devised an easy five-step plan to beat the zone press: 1) Oscar Robertson, 2) Jerry West, 3) Bill Russell, 4) Jerry Lucas and 5) Wilt Chamberlain.
JOHN OAKLEY JR.
DIAMOND IN THE FLUFF
I thought your readers might like to know that your article on western powder has given Alta the impetus to introduce the Alta Diamond. This will be a prestige award given to people who ski at Alta and will be awarded on the basis of such skiers' ability to handle all types of off-trail skiing and especially powder.
Anyone may nominate anyone for the award and, eventually, these nominations will be judged by a committee of past award winners at the season's end.
However, the first judges will be drawn from a well-qualified group of skiers, such as Alf Engen, Junior Bounous, Ted Johnson, Eddie Morris and Gene Huber, names any skier would recognize.
The award will be fitting: a gold Alta snowflake with a diamond center.
Salt Lake City
ON THE BOUNCE
I certainly appreciated your recent article on table tennis (Spongers Seldom Chisel, Nov. 15). Most people not familiar with this game imagine it to be the same as that played in many home basements—that is, a sort of pit-patting of the ball over the net until someone makes an error. Actually, it is a very exhausting sport, considering that the ball goes over the net three times during the time it takes a tennis ball to go over once. This is one reason top competitors of the country are in top condition and most have a lean, stringy type of build. You don't see fat men who smoke big cigars playing championship table tennis, even though you may see them bowling or playing billiards.
Fort Harrison, Ind.
As a lifelong fan of Ping-Pong (pardon me, table tennis), I want to thank you and Dick Miles for his humorous and informative article. Currently I am serving in the Army in Germany and am playing on a Tischtennis team for T.V. Gr√ºningen, a sports club in my adopted home town of Gr√ºningen, near Giessen.
My roommate, George DeLucia, and I have been, for the past two years, the only Americans in the extensive league system around Giessen and have thoroughly enjoyed our experiences. Mr. Miles and other readers might enjoy some of the comments that my chop and my thin rubber paddle draw from the Germans. When I first start to warm up against a new team my paddle makes such a hollow sound (compared with their sponge-covered Schl√§ger) that the opposition invariably reaches for a new ball commenting, "Der Ball ist kaputt." I can only reply, "Nein, mein Schl√§ger ist kaputt." But actually I, like Mr. Miles, find the old rubber paddle very effective at countering the spongers.
MICHAEL B. JONES
Gr√ºningen, West Germany
Mr. Miles obviously intended to be humorous, yet he also brought up a problem which has long plagued every sport from bridge to baseball. The problem seems to be that the spectators (as well as the athletes) fail to realize that every sport is a game and should be enjoyed as such.
As Miles reminds us, the excitement of competition in sports is "voonderful"—especially in table tennis—but are sponge bats, alarm clocks under the table and all of the overplayed emotions which accompany this and many other sports really necessary to their enjoyment?
JAMES C. WOODS
Arlington Heights, Ill.