The All-Star game rosters were printed on red cardboard on the end of little sticks last year because the temperature in Indianapolis was almost 100� and fans are cheaper than air conditioning. Nobody was heard to yell, "You can't tell the players without a fan," and it wasn't quite that hot in Louisville last week, but basketball rosters on cardboard fans tell what the game means in the states of Kentucky and Indiana. Basketball in June, yet.
Saturday it was in the high 80s outside Louisville's Freedom Hall and that night 16,800 were inside watching the high school All-Stars from the two states playing against each other. This was the first 1966 game of a series that has been running for 26 years. The second game, in Indianapolis next week, has been sold out for two months. Unlike fast horses in Kentucky, or fast cars in Indiana, basketball has never been a sometime thing in this area. The Graustarks may come, the Mario Andrettis may go, but people in Louisville and Indianapolis each summer show which of their loves is here to stay.
Two days before Kentucky's All-Stars shocked Indiana's 104-77 (and never mind, all you Californians and Ohioans and New Yorkers, this was the first match for this year's high school championship of the world), four white convertibles roared down Interstate 65 from Indianapolis toward Louisville. In one dozed Marvin Winkler, 6 feet 1, wearing black shades and a red shirt with " Indiana All-Stars" in white letters. Later Winkler captivated several other shades and red shirts with his description of what happened. "Man, I am there in the back seat sleepin'," said Marvin. "You know, just drowsin', and I feel this sort of zig zag. [Marvin gives everybody a shoulder weave and a wink.] Man, I start. We are swervin' off the road! I mean the road is on the left, and we are goin' off on the right. I mean I really start. I am awake now, and I look over and whoa, whoa, my man at the wheel—he is startin, too. My man at the wheel—can you believe this—he's been sleepin like me!"
Marvin Winkler's man at the wheel was the coach of the Indiana All-Stars, Cleon Reynolds, who says Marvin can "stand out there and shoot with anybody." Reynolds isn't talking about high school kids. He means anybody. Marvin can also break off his wit quicker than most, and his demonstration of the uneasy moment on Interstate 65, with the accompanying hand movements and then group mirth, was as close an approach to seriousness as the Indiana team was to make during its stay in Louisville.
"We're here to have fun, that's what this is all about," said Reynolds. "We want to win this game—both of the games—but we aren't going to have any drudgery about it. Winkler, you might say, helps in this respect."
You might say that. And you might say that Reynolds, who somehow manages to look like a distinguished country club president and an elf at the same time, also helps in this respect. "This group," said Major Schnieders, the young trainer who is constantly ragged as to whether his name isn't really Schnieders Major, "is a bunch of nuts."
It was generally assumed that this Indiana team was the best the state had produced for the All-Star series since 1956, when Oscar Robertson scored 75 points as Indiana won twice. It was also said that the Hoosiers were the best shooting team ever, and anyone who coached them and failed to improve upon Indiana's 23-12 lead in the series might just be the worst coach in the state.
Besides Rick Mount, the 6-foot-3 guard from Lebanon (SI, Feb. 14) whose legendary exploits were swamping Ronald Reagan in local newspaper columns, Indiana was crammed with talent. There were 7-foot Chuck Bavis; Mike Noland, a 6-foot-6 forward who shot 53% from the floor in his senior year; 6-foot-4 Mike Niles, who shot 56%; Winkler, who broke Robertson's Indianapolis city season scoring record; Ken Johnson, a 6-foot-6 rebounder and Steve Norris. Steve is 5 feet 8, which is 11� inches less than what he has high jumped. Even the short guys on Indiana were tall.
"I know what we have," said Reynolds, who in his 33rd year of coaching—he is now at Marian College—was a rookie in the All-Star series. "But we don't have enough time to work. They say this team can't be beaten. That's why we're in trouble. We have too many shooters."
Before he met his team in Indianapolis 10 days prior to the game, Cleon had heard about the players' shooting ability. It was another thing to see it. "Why, they come across that midline and the ball is in the air!" he said. "Somebody asked me, where does Mount shoot from. I'm trying to figure out where he doesn't shoot from. Everybody—they go right to the ball like a magnet. It's "gimme it, gimme it' all the time. They're looking to shoot from 30-35 feet. You think these guys ever heard of assists? I thought—uh-oh, we may be the first team in history to go through a game without a pass."