Sport: Basketball: Midseason

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College basketball produces no national champion. A winter sport which in some parts of the U. S. amounts to a seasonal hysteria, it is played almost entirely within regional leagues. The argument of each league that it has the best team in the land is more footless than most such controversies, since the strongest teams play on courts of different sizes under rules differently interpreted.

Bred on small gymnasium courts, Eastern teams play a cunning, fast game, usually with spontaneous maneuvers. The larger Western courts develop long passers, elaborate strategies. Midwest and Pacific Coast play a hard-hitting game. Referees there are free-&-easy in interpreting the rule against blocking, thus favoring the offense. In New England the blocking rule is severely enforced. To a lesser degree the same is true in East, South and Northwest. Even without hope of recognized national supremacy, each league last week had a fair idea of what teams would be in the top flight for the final play-offs next month. Midwest. Whether or not they offer the best basketball in the U. S., Midwest games stir up most excitement and draw biggest crowds. Farmers from miles around drove into Lafayette, Ind. for last week's game between Iowa and Purdue. It was not a crucial game, since little less than a miracle could stop Purdue, which has passed the toughest part of its schedule, from winning the Big Ten Championship. Its team, about the same as last year's, has five scoring players, all from Indiana — a state so basketball-mad that business practically stands still during the finals of the annual tournament of 800 high schools. The crack shot is Norman Cottom, a sandy-haired forward who has scored 63 points in six games and bids strong to finish as high scorer of the Conference. Best player, by a shade, and the steadying influence of the team is his running mate, Ray Eddy. Purdue does not worry much if its opponents make points, so long as they do not make too many. Hence, the Purdue style is for the whole team to break fast, rush down the floor at once and shoot. Usually the defense takes care of itself. Last week it failed for the first time in a Conference game this season when Iowa won, 38-to-36. Then Iowa turned around and inexplicably lost (35-to-29) to Northwestern which, weakened by graduation, is no more than a fair team.

These doings focused attention on Iowa's Coach Rolland ("Rollie") Williams who inherited the job of Sam Barry, now coach of Southern California. At Wisconsin Williams was a nine-letter winner, a fearless halfback, a member of the 1923 basketball team which some enthusiasts still rate the best of all time. Expert on defense, he scored a goal so rarely that, when he did, his teammates would double up with laughter. When "Rollie" Williams went to Iowa as assistant, he sorely upset Wisconsin's famed eccentric coach, Dr. Walter E. ("Little Doctor") Meanwell. Dr. Meanwell always suspected Iowa's Coach Barry, who came from Madison, Wis., of trafficking with spies on Wisconsin strategies. When Williams joined the Barry camp, Dr. Meanwell was convinced of the worst. But this season, when Dr. Meanwell was subjected to hot alumni fire for his team's poor showing, loyal "Rollie'' Williams wrote the Press in defense of his oldtime teacher.

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