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PREVIEW: GREAT SEASON, GREATER STAR

Dec. 13, 1954
Dec. 13, 1954

Table of Contents
Dec. 13, 1954

Pat On The Back
  • Herewith a salute from the editors to men and women of all ages who have fairly earned the good opinion of the world of sport, regardless of whether they have yet earned its tallest headlines

Soundtrack
Basketball
Spectacle
  • High-stepping parade horses, wearing $10,000 in saddles and silver, highlight the 56th staging of the American Royal Horse Show & Livestock exhibition in Kansas City, Mo.

Deer Hunt
John Groth's Jamaica
Golf
Under 21
You Should Know
Bowling
Football
Fisherman's Calendar
Acknowledgments
Yesterday
  • Currently celebrating his 80th birthday, Churchill, dean of world's statesmen, looks back on a full and varied sports career, including "30 years of polo."

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

PREVIEW: GREAT SEASON, GREATER STAR

Before college basketball was scrubbed clean, it was easy for knowing gamblers and fixers to sit down in December, predict the results of games in February and be certain of a phenomenal degree of accuracy. That was 1951. Today it is a pleasure to report that no one has any idea what's going to happen this season. Gamblers and fixers are no longer part of the game.

This is an article from the Dec. 13, 1954 issue

There are at hand only theories and the usual supply of "can't miss" teams. La Salle should do pretty well. So should Iowa. So should UCLA.

And there are trends. Probably the best basketball will be played in the East, but the South is following tradition. It is rising again.

Mostly, though, there are stars, and the stars may make this basketball season the finest since scandal darkened the sport. To begin, we have an All-America five. To begin the five, we have Tom Gola of La Salle.

THE GREATEST IN HISTORY

Dispassionate men are saying that Gola is the greatest college basketball player in history. He passes brilliantly and shoots brilliantly and rebounds brilliantly and defends brilliantly. Last season he averaged 23 points a game. The average is an understatement of his team value. Gola is a six-foot-seven-inch senior, perfectly built and perfectly coordinated, who can play forward, center or guard. There is a theory that if Gola ever gets angry on a court he'll score 100 points, but Gola, like Stan Musial, plays without temperament or temper.

It's a short ride from La Salle in Philadelphia to Duquesne in Pittsburgh but it's a long step down from Gola to the Dukes' Dick Ricketts. No criticism of Ricketts; Gola is just the best.

In Ricketts, Duquesne has a forecourt man who plays in the pivot or out. He has been sporadically amazing throughout his career. This season he should be consistently amazing.

So should John Horan of Dayton. Horan is six feet eight inches and so lean that he's been nicknamed the Vertical Hyphen. But when Horan shoots he prompts exclamation points.

Shortest of the brightest stars is a 220-pound country boy from Jonesville, N.C. named Dick Hemric. The "runt" is six feet six inches, plays for Wake Forest. He sank 50% of his field goal attempts last year.

Indiana's Don (Ox) Schlundt is the best center in the country. The finest tribute to Schlundt's scoring skill is this: opponents gather around him and let long shots come—just so long as the Ox is harnessed. Schlundt's nickname is no accident. He's six feet ten inches and weighs 225 pounds.

Put Gola and Hemric at guards, Horan and Ricketts at forwards, Schlundt at center and you have SI's preseason All-America five. This may overlook the merits of other stars, but it's a preseason dream team, subject to change, with notice, as the season progresses.

Gola should carry La Salle all the way to its second straight N.C.A.A. championship. "I don't have a fifth man," La Salle's Coach Ken Loeffler was heard to wail last week. Perhaps, but he has three good men and Gola.

Dudey Moore, who coaches Duquesne, has another complaint. "No depth," Dudey says, "and no Gola." The complaint is minor. Behind Ricketts, Duquesne has a Brooklyn boy named Sihugo Green with steel springs for legs. Green is a junior and it will be Moore's pleasure to watch the young man develop. He should develop enough to make Duquesne the second best team in the country.

Iowa takes the No. 3 spot and probably will take the Big Ten championship away from Indiana, too. The Hawkeyes have no single star like Schlundt but they had eight sophomores on their fine team last season. Now they have eight juniors and, therefore, should be that much better.

Dayton, with Horan and a seven-foot center named Billy Uhl, shapes up as the best midwestern independent and the fourth best in the country. North Carolina State, on N.C.A.A. probation, is ineligible for tournament competition. Perfectly eligible for regular-season play, State looms as the No. 5 team. Niagara, always tough, plays La Salle Saturday. A good game shapes up. Niagara is No. 6.

Wichita, featuring speedy Cleo Littleton, looks like the seventh best in the country. Kentucky, not the power it was, still has the top-flight coaching of Adolph Rupp. The Wildcats have promise and Rupp turns promise into results. No. 8.

TWO GOOD PRACTICES

The Pacific Coast is not strong. Perhaps it is a football hangover that prompts the selection of UCLA as No. 9, but the UCLAns do have stars in John Moore and Don Bragg. St. Francis of Loretto, Pa., an athletically ambitious small school, is a long-shot special at No. 10. Dr. William Hughes, the coach, practices dentistry, so his squad practices after office hours—from 8 to 10:30. Both practices are good.

There are, of course, other teams who'll crash the top 10. Fordham, Holy Cross and Alabama are strong and threatening. But in this December it is not possible to be quite sure what February holds. That's the best thing that could possibly have happened to college basketball.

THE EAST

With the East dominant in the national picture, top teams in this sector can be spotted among the country's best {opposite page). Behind the first flight is FORD-HAM, big enough and good enough to threaten any of the top 10. The Rams' biggest and best is Center Ed Conlin.

Holy Cross has lost its strong boy, Togo Palazzi, from a squad that brought the N.I.T. title to Worcester, Mass. The Crusaders have not lost Tom Heinsohn and loom as New England's strongest by far.

Other top Eastern independents are VILLANOVA and PENN STATE. Villanova still has Bob Schafer, who averaged 27 points a game last season. Penn State was strong enough to make the N.C.A.A. semifinals.

The New York metropolitan area, in prescandal days a seat of basketball greatness, has dropped back, SETON HALL looks strongest after Fordham. ST. JOHN'S of Brooklyn should be improved.

In the Ivy League, CORNELL, which won its first loop championship in 30 years last season, is favored to win its second in 31 years this winter. The "big" man is five-foot-six-inch Chuck Rolles. PENN, third in the league last year, has a new coach, three good veteran players, and should move to second. A year ago PRINCETON followed Cornell. This year the Tigers likely will trail both Cornell and Penn.

The Yankee Conference is a little band of brothers which does not threaten to unseat the Big Ten as a domain of high-powered athletes. But it does boast one high-powered player: Art Quimby of Connecticut. The Uconns were 7-0 in their league, should repeat.

THE SOUTH

It's tradition, suh, to look toward KENTUCKY. There, among the mountains and the platers, dwells Adolph Rupp.

For nine straight seasons Rupp's Kentucky squads won Southeastern Conference championships. Overemphasis led to scandal and in the season of 1952-53 the N.C.A.A. snapped Kentucky's string by ordering the school to withdraw from competition for the year. Kentucky played "informally" and drew big crowds to inter-squad games, then last season went unbeaten. Frank Ramsey, Cliff Hagan and Lou Tsioropoulos, Kentucky's stars, were graduate students and ineligible for the N.C.A.A. tournament. So Kentucky had to pass it up.

This season the trio is through with graduate work and Rupp is rebuilding. He says he cannot rebuild enough to cope with ALABAMA. Somehow, though, it is hard to believe that Kentucky will be unseated again as long as Rupp remains. He likes to win and he knows how.

North Carolina State likes to win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and often does—so often that the N.C.A.A. has entered this scene, too. The Wolfpack is eligible for regular season play but ineligible for the N.C.A.A. tournament—punishment for overemphasis.

Wake Forest will push N.C. State in the title race, with Dick Hemric pushing hardest, NORTH CAROLINA has some competent veterans and sophomore star Lenny Rosenbluth. DUKE has height and seasoning.

In the Southern Conference the preseason script called for GEORGE WASHINGTON to repeat, FURMAN and WEST VIRGINIA may trouble George Washington.

Among the Southern independents, LOUISVILLE seems far ahead.

THE MIDWEST

There's a good chance that the Big Ten basketball race will end up this spring as lopsided as the American League race for a pennant did last summer. What the Yankees and Indians did to the weaker ball clubs, IOWA and INDIANA should do to the weaker fives.

Forddy Anderson, an ambitious man, is coaching MICHIGAN STATE, but this is his first year. MINNESOTA has Dick Garmaker and NORTHWESTERN has a squad of three seniors and five juniors. The other Big Ten clubs don't figure at all.

The Missouri Valley Conference runs from Detroit to Texas and goes in for top-notch teams. Once OKLAHOMA A & M had things its own way, playing for possession, boring customers and winning consistently. This year, for the first time in memory, the Aggies are without a giant. If you don't get the ball off the backboard, you can't play for possession.

Coach Ed Hickey teaches fast breaks at ST. LOUIS and has a fine marksman in Dick Boushka. He doesn't have enough of everything else.

Wichita looks like the inheritor of the Missouri Valley crown. Cleo Littleton heads a veteran team that plays its home games in a 4,100-seat arena. The arena is sold out for this entire season and has been since last spring. Basketball-happy Wichita fans, who won't be able to see their team, are looking toward next year. A field house seating close to 12,000 will have been built by then. The Big Seven promises a close race. COLORADO and KANSAS are the favorites. Among the independents behind DAYTON there is NOTRE DAME.

THE SOUTHWEST

There just doesn't seem to be a powerhouse in the cow country or the desert this year, TCU and SMU can be expected to battle it out for the Southwest Conference crown Rice and Texas shared last year. BAYLOR can be expected to make it close. TEXAS TECH. last year's Border Conference championship club, should win again.

The Mountain states are usually grouped with the Southwest and amid the Mountains two teams want one title, UTAH is a sound choice for the Skyline Conference crown and WYOMING is just as sound a choice to be a pretender.

THE FAR WEST

Two new coaches have hit the Coast this year but it's doubtful that either will open with a champion. Howie Dallmar at STANFORD, after a hitch at Penn, has a team that offers ample opportunity to utilize his coaching talents. Pete Newell, who served in the Big Ten after a successful career at San Francisco, has moved to CALIFORNIA. He has a team with Bob McKeen and he has hopes.

But Johnny Wooden, a veteran of six years at UCLA, has the club of power and balance. "We're expecting to get a good boost from football," a UCLA basketball man explained. "We think that winning spirit will carry us along."

Oregon State is probably the only team in the country with two seven-footers. Swede Halbrook is seven feet three inches; Phil Shadoin is an even seven feet. Naturally, Oregon State is a favorite in the Pacific Coast Conference's Northern Division, as UCLA is in the South. Oregon State is not a national standout.

In the California Basketball Association, SANTA CLARA, with Ken Sears, shapes up as the strongest team.

View this article in the original magazine

PHOTOKEN LOEFFLER, LA SALLE: In his 19 years of coaching, he has won a total of 271 games. Coached "students" at Yale, now has top-notch players at La Salle. But he also has an ulcer.PHOTOADOLPH RUPP, KENTUCKY: Baron of the bluegrass country, wears only brown suits, believes they're lucky. Probably he's right. In 24 years as coach, Rupp has won 496, lost only 82.PHOTOBUCKY O'CONNOR, IOWA: In his fourth year at Iowa, has hit upon device of using weight lifting as team conditioner. Says it makes basketball seem lighter. Has 48-18 record with Hawkeyes.PHOTODOC HAYES, SMU: He spotted excavation for new SMU sports arena in Dallas and reported: "This is where they'll bury me." The report is premature.PHOTOJOHNNY WOODEN, UCLA: Narrowly missed conference title in Southern Division last year and determined not to miss again. In his six years at school his teams have won 121 games.PHOTOUCLA MAN Bob Ballard, 6'2", towers over Kansas State's 6'7" Joe Powell as he leaps and launches shot at basket. Ballard's shot scored and helped UCLA to victory in a game that produced riot and had Kansas State Coach Tex Winter loosing blast at "philosophy" of Coast basketball.PHOTOCARL CAIN, lithe Iowa forward, drives in for a score against Loyola. Cain, a junior expected to lead Hawk-eyes to Big Ten title, tallied 22 points and led his team to a triumph. "We had the big-town jitters for a while," said Iowa Coach O'Connor, "but Cain got rid of them for us in a hurry."

Players to watch

Forwards: Cain, Iowa; Green, Duquesne; Garmaker, Minnesota; Sears, Santa Clara.

Centers: Conlin, Fordham; Harper, Alabama; McKeen, Calif.; Shavlik, N.C. State

Guards: Able, West. Ky.; Bauer, Seattle; Rollins, Louisville; Stephens, Notre Dame.

TOP 10 FIVES

Team

Last year's record

1

La Salle

26-4

2

Duquesne

26-3

3

Iowa

17-5

4

Dayton

25-7

5

N.C. State

26-7

6

Niagara

24-6

7

Wichita

27-4

8

Kentucky

25-0

9

UCLA

18-7

10

St. Francis (Pa.)

21-5

ALL-AMERICA FIVE

Pos.

Player

School

Ht.

LF

Ricketts

Duquesne

6'7 1/2"

RF

Horan

Dayton

6'8"

C

Schlundt

Indiana

6'10"

RG

Hemric

Wake Forest

6'6"

LG

Gola

La Salle

6'7"