Bob Cousy: The Early Days

Bob Cousy: The Early Days

Part 2 of the Bob Cousy Series

When Cousy first began to play basketball, on the asphalt playgrounds of St. Albans in Long Island, N.Y., he wasn't considered good enough to make the junior varsity as a 12-year-old at Andrew Jackson High School.

Until that age, he had lived on the East Side of New York, where his father drove a cab and where only French was spoken in the house for his first five years.

The move to St. Albans in Queens took Cousy away from stickball and other street games. He practiced and played basketball all the time, joining outside leagues after being cut from the high school jayvees.

He even learned to dribble with his left hand, something many righthanded players would never learn to do. This would come in handy when he refined his ballhandling tricks at Holy Cross College and in the pros.

Cousy was cut again his sophomore year, but when Lou Grummond, the coach, saw him playing in amateur leagues, he was impressed and restored him to the jayvees.

Cousy didn't become a regular on the Andrew Jackson varsity until the last part of his junior year. By then, word was getting around that here was a kid who could turn a basketball inside out.

He won the city scoring championship as a senior, hitting for 28 points in his final game to take the title.

Recruiting in those days was not nearly as sophisticated or intense as it became later, when 250 colleges might have scouts sitting on the doorstep of the latest high school phenom, who is usually 7 feet tall and often has an agent.

The romancing of a potential college athlete in the late '40s was more of a sit-in-the-kitchen-with-the-folks thing. And that's what General Al McClellan, basketball coach of Boston College, did with Cousy.

He came to St. Albans and described to the Cousy family the many educational, athletic and social benefits available at BC. Cousy visited the campus, and things began to look good for a college that had never been known for its basketball prowess.

Enter Kan Haggerty, another Andrew Jackson grad, who was then attending Holy Cross and playing on the basketball team. Haggerty spoke of Cousy in such glowing terms to Holy Cross coach Alvin (Doggie) Julian that Julian decided to see for himself.

He liked what he saw and invited Cousy to sit on the Holy Cross bench for a game against Merchant Marine, so the kid could get the flavor of what it might be like to play for the Crusaders.

There was also the offer of a scholarship, and so in September 1946, Cousy entered Holy Cross College, the Jesuit institution in Worcester 40 miles west of Boston.

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