CINCY GOES FOR A THIRD

The Bearcats should win the NCAA basketball title again, but there will be the Blue Devil to pay if Duke gets hot
March 11, 1963

There are many ways to play against the University of Cincinnati basketball team, but the best way to play it would appear to be next season. All good students of the game know you do not run on the Bearcats, because they laugh if you try it and steal your passes; nor do you pressure Cincinnati, because the Cincinnati press sticks three ways faster, including under water; and you do not play slow and careful against Cincinnati, because this is Cincinnati's specialty and what is the use of being the first basketball team ever held scoreless? Neither do you try to stop their star player, because Cincinnati doesn't have one. It has five, and they are good enough to win a third straight national championship for Coach Ed Jucker.

This would be, of course, unprecedented. The odds against a team winning the NCAA championship three years in a row are massive. As the tournament began this weekend, however, who was to say the Bearcats were not equal to the odds, whatever they were? Not even Wichita Coach Ralph Miller, whose team has been the only one to defeat Cincinnati in two games over a two-year period, would suggest they can be beaten. "Excellent," he says of the Bearcats' chances. They are sublime, he says; the "strongest," the "best," with plenty of "poise, experience, defense and offense,' and furthermore, "they have a willing spirit." He says no thank you, sir, but he could not at this time reveal the special concomitants of his team's 65—64 upset of the Bearcats in mid-February, possibly because a coach would be a fool to share such a good thing and possibly because secret stratagems for beating Cincinnati have been losing for years.

When you talk of Cincinnati you talk in superlatives: Tony (Gramps) Yates is the best defensive player in the country, Tom (Cobra) Thacker is the tallest 6-foot 2-inch man in the world, Center George Wilson has the sharpest elbows. The Bearcats lead the nation's colleges in total defense. They exasperate paying customers—in arenas other than Cincinnati's—with their canny stalls, their deliberations, their icy disdain—tactics that have led them to 79 wins in their last 85 games. The prospects of continuous success even led the brothers of Cincinnati's Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity to start a frat house graveyard for the fallen, where the students play taps as the wooden markers are hammered into the ground—"Rest In Peace, Tulsa, Jan. 12, 1963, 67-57," etc. Cemetery space is now at a premium. It is, by some estimates, a depressing sight. Coach Jucker summed up his own team best. "I'm sorry," he said to St. Louis Athletic Director Bob Stewart after last month's 70-40 rout of the well-regarded Billikens. "I'm sorry we had to be so good."

There are three changes in the Cincinnati cast from last year, but only one new face among the starters, Larry Shingleton at guard. In place of the graduated Paul Hogue, the monolithic 6-foot-9 center. Forward George Wilson (6 feet 8 and bony) was moved to center and Thacker from guard to forward. Thacker, 6 feet 2 and 170 pounds, is the nearest thing to an indispensable Bearcat. When he fouled out against Wichita. Cincinnati blew a six-point lead and the game. He is the key man in the Cincinnati deep freeze, he has fine quick hands and he leaps like a porpoise. Center Wilson lacks Hogue's brute strength under the basket, but is more agile and much faster. Forward Ron Bonham (6 feet 5) is the least of Coach Jucker's defensive players—though he is plenty good enough—and he is clearly the best shot Cincinnati has had since Oscar Robertson. He averages 20.7 points a game and hits 91% at the foul line. Yates, 6 feet 1 and 175 pounds, quarterbacks the offense and though he shoots sparingly he guards up a storm. The 5-foot-10 Shingleton, meanwhile, would rather eat sawdust than take a shot. But, watch it: Bradley didn't even assign a man to Shingleton at the start of their game in Cincinnati, so he hit seven of 11 shots—reluctantly, of course.

Talk of Cincinnati's weaknesses is often vague and wistful and runs to criticism of its bench strength. The fact is that if Cincinnati's bench is inferior (as most benches are), it matters less with them than with many teams because: 1) the take-it-slow and do-it-right style of play lessens fatigue and 2) the Bearcats rarely get into foul trouble. They draw fewer fouls (13.1 a game) than any team in the country except Providence.

Nevertheless, nit-picking types can manage to find things about the Bearcats that warrant a little concern. Their rebounding, without 235 pounds of Paul Hogue, is not as overpowering, and the team is not as tall. It is not a great shooting team, so it has to work the ball in to score. It has a distressing habit, newly acquired, of getting behind early in games. Last week, Xavier had it down 25-15. Before that, Tulsa was 13-0 at the start and with eight minutes to play still led by 11. There have been other cases. "When a team repeatedly falls behind, and when this is a radical departure from what has gone before." says one rival Missouri Valley coach, "you have to figure some element is missing—maybe timing, maybe morale—who knows?"

The early NCAA road for Cincy is hardly perilous. It should have no difficulty advancing past the Texas-Texas Western winner in the Midwest regionals. Western, which has beaten Texas once already, plays much in the style of Cincinnati (Coach Don Haskins calls his a "walking offense"), but is a slow team afoot and its best player, Jim Barnes, has a proclivity to foul. This sets up Cincinnati for a quarter-final game against the Big Eight champion, as yet undecided, but likely to be Kansas State. State is one team that does have a bench. Twelve men appeared in at least half the Wildcats' games. They have closed fast after an abysmal start and should handle either Colorado State or Oklahoma City, for all those teams' recent successes. The prospect then is a repeat of State's 75-61 loss to Cincinnati earlier in the year, unless State's big and usually mild center, Roger Sutner, suddenly runs wild.

Arizona State, in a draw no tougher than Cincinnati's, has the best chance to get to Louisville for a semifinal game against the Bearcats. This would entail beating a good Utah State team, then the Big Six champion (Stanford or UCLA, both of which have had a rugged conference season that has left them more pressed than impressive) and finally the best in the other bracket, very likely the winner of the tossup game between Seattle and Oregon State. Neither of those two teams has looked sharp enough to cope with ASU.

Arizona State's coach, Ned Wulk, says his team is "a group of gracious young men. They don't like to get too far ahead. The thing that scares me most isa 14-point lead." True, ASU blows leads, but it also snatches them back again. Instead of using their customary fast break, the Sun Devils have turned to set play patterns this season, getting the ball to Joe Caldwell, a tine fall-away shooter, and 6-foot-8 Art Becker who. despite his size, is more effective outside. Gary Senitza is an aggressive, almost surly playmaker, but generally the Sun Devils have lacked the killer instinct. More serious, they make too many ball handling errors. Cincinnati delights in taking advantage of that kind of foolishness, and most likely would.

The team that has the best prospect of beating Cincinnati—Duke—must survive a battle in the East. There are, by minimum count, four good teams that could beat the Blue Devils to the finals: West Virginia, Ohio State (if State can win the Big Ten championship and get into the tournament at all), Loyola of Chicago and Mississippi State. Mississippi State has won outright or shared (with Kentucky in 1962) the Southeastern Conference championship three years in a row, but its splendid qualifications and Coach Babe McCarthy's frequent pleas never got the team into the NCAA tournament because of a Mississippi policy prohibiting athletic competition against Negroes.

Last week, however, President D. W. Colvard of Mississippi State dramatically announced NCAA travel plans for the Maroon squad—and State, written off and virtually an unknown quantity, became a real threat in the Mideast. The Maroons are, in fact, a good bet to pull the first major upset of the tournament. They will likely face Loyola—a team, incidentally, that has four Negro starters—and though all good Loyola fans know that Coach George Ireland's Ramblers and their mad-dash, 94-points-a-game offense will play Cincinnati for the national championship, they should also know more about Mississippi State. The Maroons haven't lost a "big" game in three years. Their slow, screening, give-and-go offense is just as tantalizing as Cincinnati's and just as deadly. "No team in the nation can make driving layups under pressure like Mississippi State," says Auburn Coach Joel Eaves, who ought to know. In addition, Maroon Forward W. D. (Red) Stroud is a very good medium-range jump shot. State's offense functions only against a man-to-man defense, but in three years not a single team has been able to stay in a zone defense against the Maroons. State holds the ball until the defense comes out to challenge. The team lacks only size. Its biggest starter is 6 feet 7.

Loyola Coach Ireland, meanwhile, is convinced there is no team in recent years to compare with his Ramblers. "The idea in basketball is to score as many points as possible, and that's what we do—we don't slow down at all. We are a matter-of-fact, unexcitable bunch that never gets upset." The Ramblers never play defense, either, and against Mississippi State this could hurt them.

Mississippi State would be a handful in the quarter-finals for the Big Ten entrant—Ohio State or Illinois. This presumes, of course, that the Big Ten team beats the Bowling Green-Notre Dame winner, which does take a bit of presuming since Bowling Green has been acting very tough lately.

A new OSU

Illinois is a strangely unbalanced mixture of great offense and poor defense (not unlike Loyola) that gets the ball airborne whenever there is daylight, leads its league in shots per game (77) and, happily for Coach Harry Combes, also leads inaccuracy (.464). It is a team quite different from Ohio State, and Ohio State, paradoxically, is quite different from the Ohio State teams that lost in the NCAA finals to Cincinnati the last two years. Coach Fred Taylor has gone conservative. No more run-and-shoot. State has become the Big Ten's best defensive club and, as never before, its offense is built around a single man. This is 6-foot-8 junior Gary Bradds, who has averaged 27.9 points a game, is more than one-third of the Buckeye attack and is the country's best center. Everybody knows he is the OSU offense, nobody has been able to do anything about it, not with zones, chasers or even picket lines outside the gymnasium. The Buckeyes are not, however, a fast team and there are grave inconsistencies in the play of their forwards, who only manage to score once a week or so.

An Ohio State-Mississippi State quarter-final would be a dandy, with the edge to Ohio State. Mississippi State, on the other hand, has too much defense for flighty Illinois. In any case, the survivor would figure to lose in the semifinals to Duke, which does more things better than any of them. Projecting the favorites in the upper bracket, Duke should defeat NYU (hot shots Barry Kramer and Happy Hairston notwithstanding) in the second round and then repeat over West Virginia in the quarterfinals at College Park. West Virginia has a history of early failure in the tournament. The Mountaineers have entered seven times since 1955 and lost five times in the first round. What is more, they lost to Duke by 40 points earlier this year. Rod Thorn has regained his best form for the Mountaineers, but probably not 40 points' worth.

Who would win a Duke-Cincinnati final? Duke is strong where Cincinnati is not—on the offense. Four of Duke's five starters hit better than 50% of their shots, and the fifth, the brilliant ex-bad boy, Art Heyman, averages 48.3, is the team high scorer (25.3 points a game) and the Associated Press' Player of the Year as well. Besides that, he doesn't lose his temper anymore. "I have," he says, "become humble." Conversely, only one of Cincinnati's five starters averages 50% (from the floor. Duke also has superior height, with the irrepressible Heyman (6 feet 5), Jay Buckley (6 feet 10), Jeff Mullins (6 feet 4) and the sixth man, Hack Tison (6 feet 10). Cincinnati's Thacker and Duke's Heyman would wage a war at the one forward spot. The awesome Thacker hasn't faced Heyman's equal before and, with all his brilliance, Thacker was punished for 46 points by Wichita's Dave Stallworth. Against the pressing Cincinnati defense, Heyman would bring the ball down-court, though he is actually a forward. Coach Vic Bubas knows his team has shortcomings at guard and that Heyman is his best dribbler and a masterful passer, too. Against North Carolina, in a game in which he scored 40 points, Heyman came whipping down the floor with three seconds left in the half and everybody in the Duke field house knowing he was going to shoot. He went up in the air near the head of the key—and fired a perfect pass to Mullins for an easy layup. If anything, Heyman takes too many shots, but so voracious is he at retrieving the ball that Bubas is reluctant to find fault.

Cincinnati has no player to equal Heyman's shooting, nor Mullins' either, for that matter. But none of Duke's multiple defenses are really very good—Heyman himself has a tendency to scramble and take chances—and Bearcat Bonham's short jumpers and the driving layups of Thacker would cause the Blue Devils trouble.

It would be about the best possible pairing for the finals: Duke with its offense, Cincinnati its defense. But Cincinnati is faster, better regimented and less prone to error. What's more, in close games defense usually wins. The champion Bearcats are favored, and deserve to be. If you want to bet on an underdog, take Duke.

TEN PHOTOS ILLUSTRATION

TEN OF THE TOURNAMENT'S BEST

CINCINNATI
TOM THACKER

Missouri Valley
W 23 L 1
Coach: Ed JucKer

Ranked No. I all season, Cincy earned its honors with a disciplined defense that held foes to 52.3 points per game and a tantalizingattack. Guards shoot sparingly, instead try to feed either Forward Ron Bonham or Thacker, who is most threatening in tense moments.

DUKE
ART HEYMAN

Atlantic Coast
W 24 L 2
Coach: Vic Bubas

Big, strong and possessive under both boards, Duke will fast-break if permitted, or set up plays around Heyman and Jeff Mullins inside. Zone or pressing defenses don't bother team, which uses several kinds itself. Only offensive weakness is lack of scoring by the guards.

LOYOLA OF CHICAGO
JERRY HARKNESS

Independent
W 24 L 2
Coach: George Ireland

The Ramblers thrive on a helter-skelter fast break and peerless rebounding. Harkness, who is Loyola's alltime leading scorer, heads a well-balanced attack that averages 93.9 points, best in the nation. The starters make 13 to 21 points a game. Both bench and defense are weak.

ARIZONA STATE
ART BECKER

Western
W 23 L 2
Coach: Ned Wulk

It has the reputation of being a fast-breaking team, but it isn't. ASU is now using many set patterns around Becker in the pivot, which are designed to get Joe Caldwell and Dennis Dairman open. The Sun Devils defend only adequately, but react well to pressure.

MISSISSIPPI STATE
LELAND MITCHELL

Southeastern
W 81 L 5
Coach: Babe McCarthy

Master at the slowdown game, State waits patiently for the defense to come out, then Guards Red Stroud and Doug Hutton cut around Mitchell, who plays a high post. Team rarely shoots from outside, but its driving lay-ups are almost unstoppable. It wins the big ones.

NYU
BARRY KRAMER

Independent
W 16 L 3
Coach: Lou Rossini

Although not too big—the tallest starter is 6 feet 7—NYU rebounds well enough to make its freelance offense efficient. It works to get the ball to Kramer, the country's No. 2 scorer, and Happy Hairston, who is rugged under the basket. Guards rarely shoot from outside.

WEST VIRGINIA
ROD THORN

Southern
W 21 L 7
Coach: George King

Deep in bench strength and with good rebounders, the Mountaineers are well equipped for their run-and-shoot-type game. Thorn is over his midseason miseries and has regained his scoring touch. This team has the best zone press in the land, is dangerous when trailing.

BOWLING GREEN
HOWIE KOMIVES

Mid-American
W 18 L 6
Coach: Harold Anderson

BG can attack from two areas. Komives, a 19.4 scorer, is extremely accurate outside while 6-foot-11 Nate Thurmond, who gets 16 rebounds a game and blocks shots deftly, provides good inside scoring. However, the Falcons sometimes lose their poise if they get behind.

COLORADO STATE
BILL GREEN

Independent
W 18 L 4
Coach: Jim Williams

Traditionally a ball-control team, the Rams run some this year. If the defense sags on Green, who averages 28.6 points, tall Forwards Dave Sigafoos and Brian Etheridge can and will shoot from the outside. CSU uses a tight man-to-man, but will go to a press when necessary.

OREGON STATE
TERRY BAKER

Independent
W 17 L 7
Coach: Slats Gill

The OSU defense, mostly man-to-man, is tough, and football star Baker, who directs the offense, is dangerous on drives up the middle. However, the attack often bogs down when 7-foot Mel Counts, a fine rebounder, has trouble scoring. Team has looked good—and bad.

NCAA Championship Pairings

EAST REGIONALS

NYU
Philadelphia, March 11
PITTSBURGH

DUKE
College Park, Md., March 15

College Park, Md., March 16

ST. JOSEPH'S
Philadelphia, March 11
IVY LEAGUE CHAMPION

College Park, Md., March 15

WEST VIRGINIA
Philadelphia, March 11
CONNECTICUT

SEMIFINALS
Louisville, March 22

MIDEAST REGIONALS

BOWLING GREEN
Evanston, Ill., March 11
NOTRE DAME

BIG TEN CHAMPION
East Lansing, Mich., March 15

East Lansing, Mich., March 16

OHIO VALLEY CHAMPION
Evanston, Ill., March 11
LOYOLA OF CHICAGO

East Lansing, Mich., March 15
MISSISSIPPI STATE

MIDWEST REGIONALS

COLORADO STATE
Lubbock, Texas, March 9
OKLAHOMA CITY

BIG EIGHT CHAMPION
Lawrence, Kans., March 15

Lawrence, Kans., March 16

TEXAS
Lubbock, Texas, March 9
TEXAS WESTERN

Lawrence, Kans., March 15
CINCINNATI

SEMIFINALS
Louisville, March 22

WEST REGIONALS

SEATTLE
Eugene, Ore., March 11
OREGON STATE

WEST COAST AC CHAMPION
Provo, Utah, March 15

Provo, Utah, March 16

ARIZONA STATE
Eugene, Ore., March 11
UTAH STATE

Provo, Utah, March 15
BIG SIX CHAMPION

FINALS
Louisville, March 23

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)