PASSING VS. POINTS
Before the Russia-U.S. basketball game in Rome's Palazzetto dello Sport, a Russian journalist bet an American journalist a bottle of vodka on the outcome. The American gave him 20 points. The U.S. won 81-57. The American got the vodka.
Basketball is still our special game, as the pattern of play quickly demonstrated. The Russians got the tap and brought the ball downcourt with a skillful, intricate pass pattern, working the ball into a corner. Then they worked it out and brought it around to the other corner. Then they worked it out again and thought about things for a while. Finally they tried a shot. It missed. Oscar Robertson took the rebound, the U.S. broke downcourt. Robertson heaved a long pass, and Jerry West scored on a lay-up. And so it went. The Russians continued to pass, the U.S. to shoot and score. Russians play basketball the way they play hockey, with control and fine passing, but they forget that you only get points when you shoot.
Rebounding is another lesson the Russians haven't learned. Viktor Zubkov, who is about the same height as Jerry Lucas' 6 feet 8, was in the best position to study the technique. Most of the time he was about a foot behind and a foot below as Lucas leaped toward the honeycombed ceiling for the ball.
After the game three Russians were talking among themselves. "If we get their first five out of there we beat them," one said. The others solemnly agreed. To see how that will be accomplished, we await the 1964 Olympics.
As their athletes win a surprising share of gold medals, the Germans are awakening the Roman echoes with a cheer that goes: "Zichi-zachi, zichi-zachi, heu, heu, heu/Evi-tscha, evi-tscha, tscha-tscha-tscha!" It has a melodious ring, but no meaning. The Americans are countering with this improvisation: "Hey, hey, hey-hey-hey/You, you, you-ess-aye/Cha-cha-cha!" Judging by some U.S. performances, it doesn't mean much either.
THE BACK-UP SCROOGIE
It is Yankee luck, or shrewdness, to come up with the late-season deals that insure pennant victories. Johnny Mize, Johnny Hopp and Enos Slaughter were the results of three such deals. This year it may be Luis Arroyo, a graying, barrel-bellied Puerto Rican with a tricky screwball he calls a "back-up scroogie."
Two months ago Arroyo was a National League reject (18-22 lifetime) drifting through a season in the International League. The night Arroyo and his Havana team moved to Jersey City (SI, July 25) he was murdered in a brief relief appearance. Yankee Scout Bill Skiff couldn't have cared less. Arroyo had one quality the Yankee relief staff badly needed: enough control to keep the ball low.
Arroyo has had far more success with the Yankees than at Jersey City, which may indicate something about American League hitting. By last week he had won three games, lost two and saved a handful of others; his ERA was an impressive 1.50. "We picked up Arroyo as just a spot reliever," Bill Skiff says. "I sure never thought he'd do this well."