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Chicago Stadium has a seating capacity of 18,000 and the fire department permits another 2,000 to stand, so it may never be determined how a crowd estimated at 24,000 people got into its dark confines last Saturday night. But there they were, sitting in the aisles, standing on ramps, holding onto girders, a bell-ringing, bugle-blowing, banner-waving crowd gathered to watch two basketball games involving the top three teams in the country—Cincinnati, Loyola of Chicago, and Illinois. More than that, the event presented a chance to study two contrasting styles of play. In the first game second-ranked Loyola ran, ran, ran and shot, shot, shot as it wore down Santa Clara 92-72. In the second game top-ranked Cincinnati, playing in its slow, methodical manner, beat third-ranked Illinois 62-53. If neither game was a thriller, the huge crowd didn't mind. Watching the top three in action was worth the price of a ticket, even the scalpers' asking price—$30.
The season's best doubleheader by far was arranged almost a year ago during the NCAA tournament in Louisville by a short, squat, balding man of 52 named Arthur Morse. Morse is a Chicago lawyer, but he is also a promoter—his official title is assistant to the athletic director at Loyola—and it is a role that he fits well. He wears black horn rimmed glasses, smokes a cigar half his size and is incapable of standing in one spot for more than a sentence. He is Mike Todd reborn.
For several years Morse has scheduled doubleheaders in Chicago Stadium involving Loyola and Illinois. He picked Santa Clara for this year's first game, partly because the school had done him favors in the past, but mostly because the team's deliberate style of play would contrast well with Loyola, which hasn't had a deliberate thought in years. Doug Mills, the athletic director at Illinois, told Morse to get Kentucky for the second game, but Morse wasn't sold. "I finally decided that Cincinnati had it and that Kentucky did not," says Morse—a fact that Mills himself might have been privately considering all the time.
The doubleheader was all set when Cincinnati's athletic director, George Smith, suddenly remembered that university rules forbid the team to play an away game in the week following exams. Smith told Morse he would have to get permission when he returned to Cincinnati in a week or two. Art Morse is not a man to wait even a minute or two. He pushed Smith into a Louisville phone booth and didn't let him out until Smith had received permission from every member of the athletic board. "That's how we got it," beamed Morse last week. "And boy have we ever got it."
The double catch
Morse, indeed, did have it. He had Cincinnati, the reigning national champion, winner of 32 straight, master of the art of careful basketball. In Illinois, he had the other end of the strategy see-saw, a helter-skelter, free-lance team of shooters that had averaged 88 points a game, 40 more than Cincinnati was in the habit of giving up.
Only one team had scored more points a game than Illinois, and that was Loyola of Chicago, with 97. Loyola won 17 straight games to earn its No. 2 ranking, and if its opposition was not overly impressive its margins of victory were.
In Chicago before the doubleheader, people were kidding Art Morse about failing to get Arizona State, the fourth-ranked team, to play Loyola, but Morse was happy enough to have Santa Clara, a steady team with an unspectacular 9-4 record but a very impressive win over eighth-ranked Wichita. Santa Clara's deliberate attack promised Loyola an interesting evening.
Santa Clara, its gangling young men wearing light raincoats and loafers, landed in Chicago at 6 Friday morning with the temperature at zero. The players spent the morning trying, but in most cases failing, to sleep, then staggered out to the Loyola gymnasium for a workout. Coach Dick Garibaldi was worried about Loyola's full-court press. "I hear that Loyola's press had one team so rattled that when a Loyola guard stomped his foot on the court, the opposing player threw the ball out-of-bounds. If Loyola does that to us, we have a couple of guys who may faint," he said.
In another part of the gym George Ireland, the Loyola coach, sat at his desk. "We're really hurting," he complained. " Ron Miller, a starter, and Paul Robertson, our sixth man, are both injured. That may ruin our press. I'm dead, no kidding. But I suppose they're down there working against our press right now. Funny how that gets people worried. This is one club the press may bother." Ireland pivoted in his chair, reached into a file cabinet and produced a neat folder labeled " Santa Clara." He pulled out a paper and read. "Real pressure can be put on backcourt men since neither is an exceptional ball handler." Coach Ireland put the paper away. "Well, we'll see."