Nevertheless, sir, you'll be glad to know that the young comrades were very well behaved. Said Jack Dyson, a retired Anderson auto exec, who drove your team around, "The most commotion we had from 'em was when that girl in short-shorts walked by at the Burger King."
Rest assured, too, that the lads were very well-fed. Your team of 18-to 20-year-olds brought appetites befitting their size: three players at 6'10" and none shorter than 6'3". The delegation ate the traditional American teenager's four meals a day: breakfast (at Big Boy), lunch (at Burger King), dinner (at Do-Len-Ski's Supper Club), and late-night pizza (at All-Star Pizza). At dinner, Oleg Meletshenko, your savvy little point guard, studied the Worcestershire sauce, then the A-1 sauce, before burying his steak in ketchup.
The conspicuous consumption, however, did nothing to dull their play once game time rolled around. Nor were they fazed by the Hoosier hoopla inside the 8,996-seat Wigwam, the second-largest high school gym in the world. The young comrades remained gracious even after Anderson's own Sandi Patti, who sang The Star-Spangled Banner at the Statue of Liberty celebration last summer, gave a grand encore performance, while your own Soyuz nerushimy was wheezed out on the organ.
With the tip-off, the balance of power shifted. Over the past few years your basketball players have finally shed their reputation for being "mechanical." Now the Hoosiers, the original pale naturals, are believers, too. Five times in the first half, 6'10" Dmitry Minaev drove in from the wing to dunk after pump-faking a path clear. "I can imitate the jump and shot," he said, "and when they believe me. . . ." Meanwhile, guard Gundars Vetra demonstrated the Latvian layup, a sweet 22-footer that goes svish. The Indiana team was hindered by 6'10" center Shawn Kemp's early foul trouble but stayed close on the shooting of the talented 6' 3" Jones (bound, with Marion High School teammate Edwards, for Bob Knight's I.U. team), who scored most of his 28 points in the first half. But your youngsters dominated in the second half and, to the surprise of the locals, ran away with it.
After the game the adult comrades and their hosts toasted one another—"Everyone understand 'Cheers!' " said Romanin—and nodded in agreement when Obukhov said, "Let's talk serious. The future of the world is with those kids. We must continue to play. Every year." He modestly deflected reporters' questions about his team. "Better to see what you say," he told them, "because I like our guys, and I am not objective."
I liked your guys, too, Mr. Gorbachev. With one reservation: those uniforms. The socks are raggedy and the shorts are too tight. Might I suggest that you put Raisa on the case before the next visit.
Cordially, Alexander Wolff