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USC's basketball team is attributing its improved free-throw shooting this season to an oh-so-Southern-Californian self-help technique called "psychofeedback." The players stand in a dark room and listen to a tape recording that asks them to imagine a ball, envision the basket and then sink perfect make-believe foul shots. As the ball goes swish, the voice on the tape cheers "Beautiful!"
"I really believe it helps," says USC coach Stan Morrison. The stats back him up: Last year the team shot .679 from the line, and this year it is .707 overall and .771 in Pac-10 games, second in the league. Morrison was sold on the idea last summer by psychologist Paul G. Thomas, author of Advanced Psycho Cybernetics and Psychofeedback, and he preaches with the fervor of the converted. "For everything you do in life you have a neuron chain in your brain, whether it's brushing your teeth or shooting a foul shot," says Morrison. "We want the kids in tune with what's being said on the tape because that's refortifying a positive neuron chain." The boys from La La Land had better keep at those neurons because Thomas's book warns of "the great and irrefutable truth that it is impossible to achieve any goal without psychofeedback.... Psychofeedback is not only the breakfast of champions, it is the lunch and dinner as well!"
BUT THEN AGAIN...
BILL AND BOB RUDDY
Last week in FACES IN THE CROWD we saluted Bill and, Bob Ruddy, football playing twins from Dunmore, Pa., who played both defense and offense and who between them gained 2,815 yards rushing and scored 37 touchdowns as they led Dunmore High School to 13 consecutive victories and the Pennsylvania state Class A Eastern Conference championship.
This week we have the sad duty of reporting that on Jan. 29 Bill Ruddy was killed and Bob Ruddy badly injured when the car in which they were riding skidded on an icy highway in Sullivan Township, Pa. and crashed into a coal-carrying tractor-trailer truck. Also, the driver of the car, Frank Butsko, 25—a family friend and onetime teammate of the twins' older brother, Pat, at Drake University in Iowa—was killed. Butsko was an assistant football coach at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, which is about 100 miles northwest of Dunmore, and he was driving the twins from their home to the Mansfield campus for a recruiting visit.
Tragedy had visited the Ruddy family last May when Jim Ruddy, father of 12, died unexpectedly several days after he had accompanied his twin sons on an inspection tour of Penn State University. Bill and Bob later planted a tree in their father's honor at the edge of the Dunmore football field and dedicated their senior season to his memory.
Last week's accident left Dunmore and much of northeastern Pennsylvania in a state of shock. We share that grief.