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Power Memorial’s Quiet Star: Lew Alcindor

Feb. 3, 1964 - “I tell them: Don’t play great. Just play good. We should win if we just play good.” Jack Donohue, the basketball coach at New York’s Power Memorial Academy, was explaining how he will prepare his team for tomorrow’s game against Xavier High School. If Power wins, it will be its 49th consecutive victory — a record for a New York school. Power, Boys High, and Archbishop Molloy share the record at 48 now. “My boys haven’t lost since 1962,” Donohue said.

He preferred not to talk about his team’s victory Saturday night in Maryland against DeMatha, the national Catholic school champion. He was more interested in praising Dennis Gailbraith, the Power Memorial team manager. “Dennie handles our team once we’ve arrived any place. He gets us in cabs, he makes sure everyone’s got the right suitcases, he tucks in the boys at night.”

In fact, Donohue will talk about almost anyone on his team as if each were a superstar. Perhaps it is a defense mechanism to avoid the obvious question: What about Alcindor? Lew Alcindor (pictured #33) is the 16-year-old, 7-foot-1 junior center who is considered perhaps the finest high school player in the country. That is all anyone knows about Alcindor, however. That is all Donohue will let anyone know about Alcindor. “If it would help Lewie to submit to interviews by coaches, T.V. people, or magazine writers, I’d let him talk to them. But it won’t help him, and it won’t help the team,” he said.

Alcindor and Co. will be on view at Xavier, Sixth Avenue and East 15th Street, at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow.


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