During BC's first scrimmage games Cousy had trouble with the actual mechanics of coaching. "For 13 years," he says, "I was used to the pros. You know how everyone parts his hair in the pros, and you don't have to worry about changing defenses and changing offenses as much as you do in college. It is tough, but I think I'm beginning to adapt."
A few days before BC's opening game against Fairfield, Cousy drove home from practice and assessed his chances. "We have scouted Fairfield," he said, "and we don't believe that they are in as good physical shape as we are. I don't think we will have an awful lot of trouble with their height, and I think we can stop their big man, [Pat] Burke." As he looked ahead at the dark highway a terrible thought entered his mind. "Nuts!" he said. "I forgot to use one of the kids in scrimmage today. Not at all. Not on offense and not on defense. That kid is going to go back to the dormitory and wonder if I'm mad at him or something. He's going to wonder if he's a bad player. I know how he feels. Nuts!"
On Wednesday afternoon Cousy held a closed scrimmage, and the team constantly fumbled and threw the ball away. Cousy stood at midcourt following a horrendous series of mistakes, buried his head in his hands and said, "Terrible, terrible." Then he walked over to John Austin, his fine sophomore starter, took the ball and began to show the team how to pass, when to hand the ball to a player and when to leave it hanging in mid-air for a teammate to pick off. His moves were simple yet beautiful, and Austin immediately picked them up. "When he teaches you something," said Austin later, "there is no one like him, because he does it so smoothly; he can explain it first and then demonstrate it perfectly." After practice Cousy remarked that it was the worst session BC had had all year. "I hope they'll come out of it before Friday," he said.
Sadly, they did not. Fairfield's players proved to be in the same excellent condition as BC's. They were all well drilled, they jumped like kangaroos and they seemed inspired by facing a Cousy-coached squad. Cousy's men made too many mistakes, possibly still feeling the pressure of playing for the game's most famous individual. They were so tense they missed 14 of 21 foul shots. John Ezell, the tallest player, was so poor on defense that Cousy swiftly took him out. Playmaker Jerry Power kept losing the ball on errors. BC failed to stop Burke, and lost 69-63.
Bob Cousy is going to have many such unhappy evenings before the quality of his players and his ability to transmit his own skills reach a peak simultaneously. That may occur next year, when the current fine crop of BC freshmen become eligible for the varsity. Then the crowds will be on their feet, the band will play and Tony Curtis can start putting on his makeup.