The preliminaries were over in the NCAA tournament, but not before they raised an eyebrow or two. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was Princeton's total demolishment of Providence after the Friars had knocked out St. Joseph's in the East Regional at College Park, Md. That sent Princeton to Portland, Ore. along with the other regional winners, defending national champion UCLA, Michigan and Wichita State, for Friday's semifinal games (page 20).
The National Invitation Tournament was proceeding more slowly toward a showdown in New York's Madison Square Garden next Saturday. While Villanova and New Mexico, the only two seeded teams, waited patiently for their quarter-final games Monday night, six other entries survived the opening round.
There was no doubt as to which team was the sentimental favorite. With Coach Joe Lapchick going into compulsory retirement next year, it had to be ST. JOHN'S. Everybody, including the conservative Lapchick, expected his Redmen to hold the ball against Boston College, a team that loves to run and gun. And that is what they started out to do. But Bob Cousy's Eagles, shooting badly and desperately when they fell 11 points behind in the first half, began to press on defense. So St. John's took off. Sonny Dove, the bony 6-foot-7 center, snapped up rebounds and started the breaks; Kenny McIntyre, the whirling backcourter who sincerely believes that basketballs were made only for shooting, traded shots with BC's spectacular John Austin and outscored him 42-40. The Redmen won 114-92, and the beaming Lapchick's word for it was "Wow!"
Two other New York schools also got through the first round. MANHATTAN, persevering with its patterned attack against Texas Western's sticky man-to-man defense, finally broke the game open in the second half. With Larry Lembo hemmed in by Texas Western's dogged Andy Stoglin, Matty Link and Bob Chlupsa got away from the other persistent Miners for 16 points apiece, and the Jaspers won 71-53.
NYU had a more difficult time with Bradley. The Violets, who seem to specialize in inconsistency, looked like an easy winner when they led 47-36 at half time. Then the Braves went to a pressing defense and soon NYU was in trouble. Four points ahead with 8:20 to go, the Violets made the mistake of trying to stall, and it was nearly fatal. They lost their touch and, with only seconds left, Bradley led 70-69. But Richie Dyer saved the game. He came out of a pileup with the ball, whirled in a jump shot and NYU won 71-70.
Fordham was not quite so lucky. Coach Johnny Bach's 2-3 zone press, which had given the Rams so many victories down the stretch, failed against WESTERN KENTUCKY'S poised young sharpshooters. Sophomores Clem Haskins, a poker-faced 6-foot-4 forward, and Dwight Smith, a 6-foot-3 guard, shot in 39 points, and the Hill-toppers took the game 57-53. DETROIT won, too, but not before hustling La Salle gave the tall Titans a full-sized scare. Led by pint-sized Curt Fromal, who scored 26 points, La Salle came on like gangbusters after falling 13 points behind late in the first half. However, John Schramm's lusty rebounding and Louis Hyatt's long-range shooting (he got 31 points) were simply too much for the plucky Explorers. They lost 93-86.
But the team that captured everyone's fancy was ARMY. The Cadets, short on real talent but long on hustle and muscle, were just barely in the game against St. Louis in the first half despite Mike Silliman's sweeping jumpers. Then Dennis Shantz, a quick, sharp-nosed 5-foot-10 guard, suddenly took it into his head to start driving. He found patsies in St. Louis' Sam Ulrich, Bob Cole and Randy Albrecht and beat them to the basket seven times, to wind up with 21 points. When Shantz was not driving, John Ritch, Army's husky Rhodes scholar, wheeled off the pivot for layups. Their combined efforts beat the shaken Bills 70-66.
THE SMALL COLLEGES
The small colleges were also busy settling their championships last week. In Evansville, Ind. 36,084—mostly red-clad hometown boosters—turned out to cheer their unbeaten Purple Aces, setting a record for the three-day NCAA college-division tournament in Roberts Stadium. The flashy EVANSVILLE team, which had won 26 straight during the regular season and was ranked No. 1 in the national polls, obliged by scurrying past Philadelphia Textile 92-76 and St. Michael's of Vermont 93-70. Meanwhile, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS reached the final by beating Washington of St. Louis 76-67 and North Dakota 97-64.
That set up a confrontation that tournament promoters dream about. Evansville had twice beaten Southern Illinois by a single point earlier in the year, and there was not a Saluki around who did not think that the games should have gone the other way. "This time," said Coach Jack Hartman grimly, "I want my boys to be in an aggressive mood." As it turned out, they may have been a bit too aggressive. Hoping to curb the Aces' prolific scoring, the Salukis pressured their passers and were whistled for 25 fouls. They also gave up 57 points to Evansville's two All-Americas. Larry Humes, a remarkable 6-foot-4 jump shooter, fired in 32, while Jerry Sloan scored 25. Nevertheless, Southern Illinois had Evansville in a 74-74 tie at the end of the game. Then the Aces broke loose in overtime. Sloan clinched an 85-82 victory with two free throws in the last second, and Evansville had its second straight NCAA title.
Things were just as tense at Kansas City, where the NAIA decided its championship. Undefeated CENTRAL STATE from Wilber-force, Ohio, which came into the six-day tournament with a 25-0 record and a No. 2 ranking, met Oklahoma Baptist in the final. State's battle tactics for the Bisons were simple. It came out firing, shot 63% in the first half and built up a 17-point lead. After that it was easy. While Ken Wilburn, a 6-foot-6 junior with a knack for claiming rebounds, stuffed in 16 points and cleared the boards, the other Marauders bombed the weary Baptists from near and far. Central State won 85-51 for its 30th in a row.