There are two things that the Dunbar basketball team learned from playing a Soviet Union team of high-school players last night at Morgan State. One, that the Soviets couldn't match the Poets' fast-paced, physical style of play, as evidenced by Dunbar's 119-105 victory.
And two, that the score didn't matter much.
Although the game was the culmination of the Soviet team's day-long stay with Dunbar, which included an afternoon tour of the Inner Harbor and a trip to the Science Center, the lopsided score failed to dampen the experience for either side.
"They're funny, and they catch on quick," Poets center Donta Bright said. "I like being around them. They talked [through an interpreter] a lot about living in Russia, and I was able to learn a lot about them."
Bright wasn't alone. Many players talked of the great cultural experience they had with the Soviets, and some exchanged addresses in hopes of remaining pen-pals.
Said Dunbar coach Pete Pompey: "Even though they're a long way away, my players learned that kids are kids all over the world."
The Soviet players had an equally enlightening day. "I've learned a lot from them," center Andre Laletin said. "We've made many friends over here and had an enjoyable time. Dunbar is just so good."
Soviet coach Vladimir Alov agreed: "This experience produced a very good impression for our players. Technically, [Dunbar] is a better team. They are very good in defense and, physically, are extremely beautiful to watch play."
Dunbar controlled the action from early on, taking a big lead. The Associated Press' No. 3-ranked prep team scored the majority of its baskets on dunks, and used its physical strength to out-rebound the taller Soviets.
The visitors, however, kept battling when they were down, and amid the cheers of their host American families, put together a late rally to make the final score respectable.
The Soviet team was impressed with the Poets' athletic ability and seemed amazed at some of their slam dunks.
Midway through the second quarter, the Poets' Keith Booth took off for a dunk. Soviet assistant coach Alexander Viner popped out of his seat and ran to the press table.
"Fantastic," said the grinning coach, who understands only a few English words. "Just fantastic."