Just as the Houston team was about to take the floor for the second half of a game against Texas Christian last season the piercing voice of the team trainer, directed to the student manager, stopped all action: "Hey, Cash, you locked the coach in the dressing room!" Coach Guy Lewis was released, and his Houston team promptly blew a nine point lead. "I wish I was back in the dressing room," Lewis muttered.
Actually, getting locked in dressing rooms was more of a problem than losing games, for Houston didn't lose many (21-6) and may lose even fewer this season. Back is an aggressive, talented front line, and up from the freshmen are some promising youngsters. The meanest of the returnees is 6-foot-7 Lyle Harger. "He's a typical west Texas boy," says Lewis proudly, "rawboned and rangy and durable." Harger is not an accurate shooter from long range, but he knows that. He takes his jump shots from in close, and is deadly with them. Last year he outscored and outrebounded such high-class rivals as Cincinnati's Paul Hogue and Southern California's John Rudometkin.
On one side of Harger will be 6-foot-4 Don Schverak, whom Lewis calls the worst-looking shooter he has ever seen. Schverak may not be a graceful fellow, but his shots have a distracting way of bouncing around the rim and in.
The best shooter on the Houston team is at the other forward, 6-foot-5 Folly Ma lone, who is accurate from the outside with a one-hander and will ram home points under the basket, too. Backing up this threesome is Tommy Thomson, a starter two years ago who was sidelined by a hepatitis attack last season. He is fully recovered, but he can't break into the starting lineup now.
Comforting as it is to have such able big men up front, the guards are the key to Coach Lewis' offense and lack of experience may cause some suffering. Houston's plays revolve around a back-court man, who must move in and out of the high posts. It is a tricky offensive variation, and Lewis can only hope that either Chester Oliver, a junior, or a pair of sophomores, Eddie Winch and Jack Margenthaler, can learn the job.
Mississippi State, at New Orleans, Dec. 28
Minnesota, at Minnesota, Dec. 31
Cincinnati, at Cincinnati, Jan. 2