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It didn't work very well in the exhibition season. The Knicks lost six of eight games and looked terrible.
"We'd get guys like Jesse Dark and Mel Davis in there and we couldn't run any plays because they didn't know what to do," says Frazier of that period. "Now they do. Now we have confidence in everybody because if they didn't know their plays Red would have them out. My first year I wasn't any good because my teammates didn't have confidence in me. So now I try to let the younger guys know that I have confidence in them. Maybe not in words but by things I do on the floor."
Holzman also changed his offense, which, he says, is not as much guard-oriented as some claim. The fine distinctions don't bother him. If it is working, and usually it is, what difference does it make what it is called?
"It's basically the same offense we've always used," says Holzman. "The only difference is that if the play breaks down, Frazier and Monroe can take over and go one-on-one, and why not, the way they do it?"
With Wingo and Jackson blossoming into dependable forwards and Gianelli quietly contributing a good measure of defense at center, the Knicks alternated wins and losses in their first 12 games, they won 11 of their next 13 before coming up against Buffalo. And they've been winning with their guards. Monroe and Frazier have averaged 21.9 and 21.0 per game and Bibby has been getting a point for every two minutes he plays. The pleasantest news was the development of the youngsters, especially Wingo, Davis and Riker. And Gianelli.
"I know that people say a team can't win with Gianelli at center," said Gianelli, speaking as quietly as he plays. "Well, I don't think they know. If I only score four points it doesn't mean I played a bad game. We play a team game and statistics really don't mean anything. We usually get outrebounded but we win. There are other things: picking, setting, playing defense, blocking shots. I'm a good center at all those things. Sure I'll have trouble with Lanier or Kareem or McAdoo, but the team will make up for it elsewhere."
Saturday afternoon the Knicks had trouble with McAdoo once again, and this time no one made it up anywhere. New York got off to a fast start, leading 29-20 at the end of the first quarter, but then McAdoo and the fiercely running Braves took over, and that is what it turned out to be, a runaway. By halftime Buffalo was ahead 56-48 though McAdoo, who appeared tired (he was playing his third game in less than three days), had scored only 13 points. The third quarter was almost even but, just as they had done the night before in Buffalo, the Knicks flagged and fell. Buffalo won the last period 30-22 and at one stage led by as many as 21 points.
McAdoo finished with 37 points and 15 rebounds, giving him totals of 79 and 38 in less than 24 hours. "The last time we played the Knicks in the Garden we played stupid and lost," he said. "Now we beat them two straight. We let them know we are a better team."