Here they stand, on pedestals. The wonder is that there are not two to a column, so packed has the elite of college basketball become. To those who have followed the game over the past few eons, it is no surprise that UCLA again is the choice. What does come as a shocker is that the old Bruin assistant, Denny Crum, now head coach of Louisville (rated sixth), thinks that any of 10 teams can lay hold to the title this year. There is solid reason for this judgment: Competition is stiffer than before and so are the schedules of the major colleges, including UCLA's. As scouting reports on the following pages show, not only are high schools sending up bigger and better-trained players, but an ever-increasing number of coaches are stressing conditioning. Where once it was hard to find 20 logical contenders, it is now difficult to limit the choice to 30. Fanning over the country to weigh the teams' chances are Curry Kirkpatrick on the Pacific Coast; Barry McDermott, Mike DelNagro and Susan Adams in the South; Kent Hannon, Larry Keith and Don Delliquanti in the Midwest and Southwest; Jim Kaplan and Angel Reyes in the East; and, for the small colleges, William White.
In the interest of public service and to keep attention focused on all aspects of the situation, herewith a scouting report on the UCLA student managers past and present. Bob Marcucci, who did the honors during the tenure of Lewis Kareem, was fast with a towel but could not handle warmup jackets. He always took them one at a time. George Morgan, now a Marine based at nearby Camp Pendleton, accomplished chores for the Wicks-Rowe teams and never missed a play or a pun. Les Friedman, who toiled during Bill Walton's first two years and is now in law school, was quick to the chairs but had no left hand. Now Friedman's brother Len, a junior and the new head manager, shows the most potential of the bunch. All he has to do is eat his greens and keep his proper silence.
Eating greens and keeping silent have become uppermost in the minds of the Bruins since they went out the back door of the Arena in St. Louis last spring with their seventh straight national championship. Recently Greg Lee, the senior guard, sold his teammates, notably Walton and Andre McCarter, on the joys of vegetarianism. Walton in turn has seriously taken up Transcendental Meditation. He called a team meeting to convert the players and even Coach John Wooden attended a meditation session. This togetherness, however, did not prevent the two from having it out over Walton's hair length. "When you're under a dictatorship, you do what the boss wants," says Walton. "I even had to get it cut twice. I may be an anarchist, but I'm no dummy."
The Bruins likewise do not lack for smarts in preparation for defense of the title. To replace Forward Larry Farmer there is 6'8" Junior Dave Myers, who came on like a caged savage last year; he can shoot, move and jump through ceilings. Splintery Pete Trgovich gets first crack at the wing spot vacated by Larry Hollyfield, but it is likely that Lee, an outstanding passer, and the occasionally brilliant sophomore McCarter will see more action there. Both have abandoned the point, acceding to the superiority of Tommy (TC) Curtis who, in his yapping, bowlegged way, is running the offense better than ever.
Walton and The Splendid Silkman, Keith Wilkes, who must be the most underrated player in college, will fit the post positions fairly well in their final season together while sophomore Ralph Drollinger and freshmen Richard Washington, Gavin Smith and Marques Johnson wait offstage. "This is the best team I've ever been on," says Lee. Yes, but the manager is a rookie.
2 NORTH CAROLINA STATE
If you have most everybody back, except maybe a cheerleader or two, from a team that last year went 27 and zip, won a conference title, a couple of tournaments and the hearts of thousands, then obviously what you should be practicing is how to defense that congratulatory phone call from the White House.
But North Carolina State is doing no such thing. It may have David Thompson, the man who beat the Russians last summer, and Monte (Captain Crazy) Towe and Tom Burleson, who always can find work as an elevator in a Raleigh skyscraper, but the Wolfpack also has rampant caution. As Burleson puts it, rather without imagination, "We're going to play them one game at a time."
That means North Carolina State is not ready to say it is better than You Know Who, a question that will be partially resolved when YKW and N.C. State go halfway across the country to meet each other in St. Louis on Dec. 15. That game, some say, will be for the real 1973 NCAA championship, a little plum the Wolfpack was not allowed to reach for last season because it was on a year's probation for recruiting violations.
The nucleus of the team is Thompson, the man with the jet-assisted takeoff. David is flying higher than ever this year, thanks to an off-season knee operation, and he is a guided missile. It is no secret that he disdained a pro contract for a crack at being No. 1.
About as important are Burleson, at 7'4" almost two feet taller than that 5'5½" rascal Towe. Monte could have posed for a Johnson & Johnson ad at times last season, wrapped as he was so often in swaddling bandages. Thompson may get the praise and Burleson may get the stares but the feisty Towe is the strut that keeps the Wolfpack's plane together and flying right.
Coach Norm Sloan does have a couple of problems. Besides finding a new wardrobe of neon clothing, he has to replace graduated Joe Cafferky in the backcourt and Rick Holdt up front. Junior-college transfer Moe Rivers will move in at guard if he can learn the nuances of Wolfpack strategy. If not, Mark Moeller will do. And Tim Stoddard, who hit 48% from the floor as a sophomore last season, complements Thompson at forward with another transfer, Phil Spence, and with Steve Nuce filling in at forward or center. "We were good last year," says Towe. "We'll be better this year." That means State should survive the perils of the Atlantic Coast Conference where both North Carolina and Maryland will be better, too, but as for that national crown, will better be good enough?
The young couple snuggling under the covers of a bed outside Indiana University's Assembly Hall should, logically, have been posing for a local version of Joey Heatherton's Serta "Perfect Sleeper" mattress ad. However, when the two could be parted for a question they revealed that student basketball tickets were to go on sale in six days and they wanted to be first in line.
With fans like these and players like theirs, the Indiana Hoosiers, who had UCLA puffing in the NCAA semifinals last year, should again be first in line in the Big Ten. Beyond that, it will be up to two individuals to fulfill the challenge of a sign hanging above the Assembly Hall's entrance. It reads: HOME OF THE BIG RED HORDE. BEAT UCLA.
One of the persons is Bobby Knight, the hot-tempered coach whose ingenuous style has produced 39 victories in two seasons; the other is freshman Kent Benson, the auburn-haired center who chose Indiana over 300 other schools and who may become a horde all by himself.
Benson is from Henry County, the locale of Ross Lockridge's Raintree County, and like most every other Indiana "Mr. Basketball" before him, he is accompanied by folklore. A brutish high school player, Benson in one game rammed in 55 points and seized 35 rebounds. He is both Catholic and a member of the highly Protestantized Fellowship of Christian Athletes; he ate 33 pieces of chicken at the 1971 state finals banquet: last summer he managed to play basketball in Germany and still show beef cattle at the Indiana State Fair. At 6'10" and a slimmed-down 230 pounds, he can be as tough and mean on court as he is gentle off it.
Making sure Benson will be rough and ready for jealous opponents who will try to prove he made a mistake in going to Indiana is Scott May, a muscular 6'7" forward who has been all over Benson in practice. Scholastically ineligible as a freshman, May looks and plays more like Sidney Wicks than Benson resembles Bill Walton, which is the popular notion. The rest of the starting five—Forward Steve Green and Guards Jim Crews and Quinn Buckner—is imperturbable. There is not a senior on the team, and John Laskowski and Bob Wilkerson head a list of reserves who all can and do play.
Pro scouts already recognize that what they see in a Bobby Knight player is what they get. He pushes his players to their limit and seldom leaves room for improvement. The Big Red Horde should be the scourge of the Midwest provided it gets by that Big Green Horde from over South Bend way.
4 NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame was a young team last year, laden with sophomores and juniors who seemed, early on, to resemble the 6-20 losers of the season before. But despite a 1-6 start they came on like banshees. Center John Shumate had spells when nothing went up that did not go in, Forward Gary Novak became very defensive and Guard Dwight Clay ran the offense superbly. After two-point losses to Indiana and Kentucky, the Irish apocalyptically earned an NIT berth with wins over Marquette, St. John's and South Carolina and nearly won the tournament with consecutive upsets of Southern Cal, Louisville and North Carolina before a last-second basket gave Virginia Tech the championship in overtime. "It's just as well," says smooth Gary Brokaw, one of five returning starters from the 18-12 team. "We know there's a lot more we can accomplish."
Notre Dame's turnaround under Coach Digger Phelps was not altogether unpredictable. Only three years ago Phelps was making miracles on Ford-ham's Rose Hill. Although he suffered grievously in his first season at South Bend, he installed a system and instilled pride in the team, and last year he got some honest-to-goodness players. Now he has some more, and for the first time under Phelps the Irish have depth and a more effective pressure defense.
Freshman Forwards Adrian Dantley and Billy Paterno, the best that Washington, D.C. and New Jersey could offer, will take lots of playing time if not starting jobs from Pete Crotty and Novak. Another freshman, Ray Martin, looked comfortable at the point guard, so maybe nobody is safe.
Nobody except Shumate, the very physical 6'9" center who made 38 of 51 shots in the NIT and was the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Shu has occasionally overlooked the virtues of dedication, inspiration and perspiration. To motivate Shumate is Clay's job. "I just wasn't doing anything early last year," says Shumate, "and Dwight came up to me and said, "Big Daddy, I don't care how many shots you miss, I'm going to keep bringing the ball to you because I know you can do it. You've got to do it.' " Not long afterward Big Daddy started doing it. He finished the year averaging 21 points and 12 rebounds per game, both team highs. "It's like this," says Clay, whose basket ended Marquette's 81-game home winning streak last year. "I keep Shu motivated and Digger motivates me."
Phelps is unabashedly turned on by the Golden Dome, under which the joy should be immense this year.
5 NORTH CAROLINA
The quaint community of Chapel Hill is up to the tops of its pine trees in rumors, anticipation and good old-fashioned enthusiasm. What is it that Dean Smith is building in Carmichael Auditorium? Can the freshmen really spot the varsity 10 points?
The reason for the outbreak of galloping fervor is that North Carolina has most of the components back from a team that went 25-8 and finished third in the NIT last year, and it had the best recruiting year ever, bringing in half a dozen freshmen who look like the neatest finds in Carolina since the filter tip.
The neatest of the new bunch is a top banana named Walter Davis, a little green to be sure, but still a 6'5" wizard the home folks like to compare to David Thompson, down the road at North Carolina State. Davis is not that talented, but then who is? Still, he is too good to keep out of the lineup—that is if he can survive the hazing period Smith automatically imposes to newcomers. "We kind of like the freshmen to remember they're freshmen," he says.
The other newcomers will remember who they are simply because the veterans are so good. First off, there is Bobby Jones, who makes a habit of getting sneaky open. Jones does it so well that he made over 60% of his field-goal attempts his first two seasons. "And if there's a better defensive player in the country, I'd like to know who it is," says Smith.
Sophomore Mitch Kupchak and junior Ed Stahl will light it out for another inside spot. Both are big and strong, and Kupchak hit 60% of his shots and played in all 33 of the team's games as a freshman. In fact, the Tar Heels have such a lengthy list of good shooters that they have led the nation in field-goal accuracy the past two years.
North Carolina will have to fill in the backcourt, where the graduation of George Karl hurts the most. And, as usual. Smith plans to use several different lineups, including "big" and "little" models, running players in and out with the speed of an assembly line.
Even the schedule looks good. The Tar Heels travel outside the state limits on only four occasions, and one of those trips is against meek Biscayne.
One sour note in the concerto is the missing beat of talented Donald Washington Last year he was injured, then he fell behind in his studies and could not make up the grades in summer school. Now he is out of school altogether and hoping to return next year. Even so the Tar Heels figure to win 20 games for the seventh time in the last eight years. And maybe win a few more.
For years, first as an assistant at UCLA, next as coach of Louisville, Denny Crum manipulated players. He needled them and played them, appeased them and sat them down, badgered them and juggled them. Then came last year's team with three sophomores and two juniors who had never started a varsity game. Crum was unmanipulating but hardly unhappy. "It was my most rewarding season," he says. The Cardinals beat NCAA runner-up Memphis State 83-69, won 23 games and, for the eighth straight time, appeared in a postseason tournament, this time the NIT.
Crum built that record on ice, a pogo stick and a neophyte—and each returns. The ice, Allen Murphy, averaged 16 points a game as a forward, shot a cool 52% and was so quick that he always defended against guards. Bill Butler, the pogo stick, is the other forward and maybe the most intimidating one in college basketball. The last line of defense in Louisville's zone press, he will uncoil under the basket to swat away shots two feet over the rim—and he is only 6'1". In 16 games Butler led the Cardinals in scoring, rebounding or both. The neophyte is now a two-way junior, Junior Bridgeman by name. He so enjoyed his first season at guard that he made all-conference.
Bridgeman rejoins Terry Howard who after a slow start was voted the most valuable player in the Rainbow Classic even though Louisville placed second. Also on hand is reserve Phillip Bond, who used to gum up scoring on both ends of the court but has been the leading percentage shooter in practice this fall.
Even with all this talent available, a freshman has been getting the loudest raves. Wesley Cox could be as magical to Louisville fans as the Derby. A two-time all-state selection from nearby Male High, he chose Louisville from the usual 5,000 colleges because, he said, he wanted his family to watch him play. While he or Ike Whitfield, a 6'8" junior-college All-America from California, could move into the three-man front line right away, Crum prefers to start Cox. At 6'5", he would make the average height under the boards only 6'3½" but Crum has concluded that smallness is not bad per se. Indeed, he has become a firm believer in little teams that can. He harbors special memories of the UCLA team in 1964. It did not start a player more than 6'5" tall and yet won the national title. Since then Crum has viewed enough championship races to speak with authority. "There are always 10 teams capable of winning the national title," he says. "Now we are one of them."
7 SAN FRANCISCO
Willie McCovey is gone: John Brodie is going. Even Mayor Alioto wants out of San Francisco, preferring the governor's mansion in Sacramento. All the old boys seem to be leaving the city by the bay. But it is young boys that concern Bob Gaillard, the bright, mustachioed coach at USF; he needs them to start arriving. The Dons have won two straight WCAC titles almost entirely with players from within a radius of 15 miles of all those bridges. Now, with Jerry Tarkanian bringing his recruiting road show to league-member Las Vegas, Gaillard feels he must go national to keep up. "The City doesn't mean much to high school kids," he says. "If we recruited 25-year-olds, we'd rule the world."
Gaillard does well enough; this year the Dons have their best team since Bill Russell left to shoot hoops for LONG D-I-S-T-A-N-C-E. Of USF's five defeats last year, two were to UCLA on the Bruins' court and two others were by a single basket. Gone from that team are Snake Jones and Mike Quick, whose outside shooting will be hard to replace. But the team does keep smooth Phil Smith, a senior who three years ago walked onto the campus unnoticed and without scholarship and became USF's best backcourt player since K.C. Jones. Smith is sinewy, deadpan, unselfish and still unnoticed—except in the box scores. The UCLA people consider him the best player they faced last year and he may be the first guard drafted by the pros. John Boro returns to play sixth man and shoot against zones, and newcomer Russ Coleman is a pleasant surprise, but Quick's starting spot should go to 6'1" Tony Styles, a blur with the ball out of Iowa Central Community College who will take some pressure off Smith's bony shoulders.
In Kevin Restani and Eric Fernsten the Dons have up front two big men (they're both 6'9") who complement each other perfectly. Restani lacks fire and is slow, but he is an excellent shooter-passer and a threat to score from anywhere. Fernsten does not score but he doesn't let anybody else do it, either. Depth prevails at the other corner Where sophomores Howard Smith and Richard Johnson and multitalented freshman Jeff Randell are competing. Rebounder Smith looked good in preseason, but the 6'5" Johnson is a valuable swing man and Randell also will play a lot.
It is a confident, intelligent, close-knit group that Gaillard has assembled on The Hilltop—probably to play UCLA twice again (in the Bruin Classic and the NCAA regionals). Too bad. Gently flow the Dons, who otherwise might rage through the West.
Everybody knows about Maryland: crab cakes, Spiro and Ball-er-mer Street. Now there is another spicy item. The Maryland basketball team is as tasty as a chef's delight; it can draw raves like a Broadway smash—and at times is as disappointing as bad burlesque.
True the Terps have tweaked opponents for 50 victories, an NIT championship and an NCAA berth in the last two years, but somehow there were greater expectations. This could be the year of fulfillment.
Those super-sophs of a few years back are now superduper seniors. Tom McMillen should become the school's alltime scoring leader sometime this season, and his partner on the front line, Len Elmore, has recovered from a foot injury that crimped the team's style late last year. McMillen has put on weight, Elmore has taken some off, and that means a balanced diet that opponents should have difficulty digesting.
After a freshman debut that was simply sensational, floor leader John Lucas is looking to improve on the Terrapins' finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference. "I think the team will be closer together this year," says Lucas, who spent his summer "playing ball three times a day, morning, noon and night. It's a funny feeling not being on top. I've always been on top all my life."
For Maryland to get there, it will have to replace graduated Jim O'Brien and Bob Bodell. Junior Owen Brown was slated to fill O'Brien's wing spot. He is quick and 6'8", but he injured a foot in preseason workouts and will not return until the very start of the season. McMillen has moved outside in the interim, allowing young Tom Roy a chance at a starting position down deep with Elmore. And Jap Trimble, who is experienced, will fill Bodell's guard slot if he can regain his form of two years ago following knee surgery last season. If not, Maurice Howard will play there.
The team has only one freshman on its 10-man roster, Wilson Washington, a big man who probably will have to sit and learn behind Elmore, McMillen and Roy.
Maryland lost three games after Elmore injured his foot last year, and all together dropped four games by four or fewer points, so it may have been better than its 23-7 record. But it had a characteristically poor year in the ACC (it has not lost a regular-season game outside the conference in a three-year span) and on the road, losing six games away from Cole Fieldhouse. This team looks too good for that sort of burlesque. Start the music.
Fred Snowden had been 80-0 as a junior varsity coach at Detroit's Northwestern High, 109-7 with the varsity while winning five straight city championships and a fine recruiter as an assistant at the University of Michigan. Yet the young, gifted black coach had never been offered a major college job of his own.
"Old friends from Motown would stop by and ask when I was going to make a move," says Snowden, who played against the Four Tops, whose high school typist became a Supreme, and who coached people like Alex and Ron Johnson, Willie Horton, John Mayberry and two of the Temptations before Arizona Athletic Director Dave Strack tempted him to Tucson last year.
To be certain he was equal to the rebuilding task ahead (Arizona had been 6-20), Snowden brought with him two kids who had been teammates at Detroit's Kettering High. "Neither Coniel Norman nor Eric Money looked terribly impressive when they got off the plane," Snowden recalls. "My assistant, Jerry Holmes, took one look and said, 'That's the franchise?' "
Local reporters were equally skeptical, possibly because they thought Money was the star, and were upset when Arizona, low on Money publicity photos, gave them pictures of Norman instead. As luck—or just possibly ability—would have it, it was Norman who popped in 24 points a game as the Western Athletic Conference's Most Valuable Player. All Money did was average 19 points.
Snowden sometimes started five freshmen as the Wildcats won 16 games and finished in a three-way tie for second place in the conference. But his new harvest is so rich that the only other sophomore who definitely will start is 6'8" Forward Al Fleming, whose mother's given name is Arizona. Freshman Herman Harris will play opposite Fleming. Another newcomer, 6'10" Bob Elliott from Ann Arbor, is so ready that last year's starting center married and transferred.
The Michigan regime has settled in nicely at Arizona although, as Norman says, "When a lizard walks across the street you know you're not in Detroit." To make his teen-agers more at home, Snowden does things like dropping in on them for a piece of pizza and a friendly rap, which does not hurt his reputation. Kids from all over the country call him.
For the moment, though, Snowden appears to have all the talent he needs to reach the NCAA West Regionals in March. They will be played at Arizona's new McKale Center—sort of a home away from home, lizards and all.
Since it is impossible to write a report about the Friars without somehow mentioning Ernie DiGregorio, reflect for a moment on vintage Ernie D—before he signed with Buffalo and people began to question everything but his Italian ancestry. Here comes Ernie, dribbling up court against Memphis State early in the NCAA semifinal game. Kevin Stacom is on the end of the fastbreak and DiGregorio whips him one of his wonder passes for a layup. Stacom is the curly-headed and indefatigable kid who rejected lucrative professional offers to return to Providence.
Here comes Ernie D again. This time it is a behind-the-back half-court bounce pass to Marvin Barnes, who vaults with the ball above the rim to put in a basket. Barnes hurt a knee later in that loss to Memphis State but recovered to play in both the U.S.A.-Russia series and the World University Games in Moscow. He was the leading rebounder and finished second in scoring at the World Games. He, too, could have turned professional as a hardship case, but he also chose to play a final season with Providence.
So while it is goodby to Ernie D—and to Fran Costello and Nehru King and Charlie Crawford—Coach Dave Gavitt can look forward to another year of Stacom and Barnes. In monetary terms that amounts to more than a million dollars in players. The question is: For all that obvious dedication, can the Friars be as good without Ernie D?
Just maybe. In Barnes, who blocked 137 shots and was second nationally in rebounding (19.0), Gavitt has a dominant center that any team in the country other than UCLA would covet. In Stacom, who hit 55% of his shots, he has a prized shooter who additionally is solid defensively. Depending upon who plays the other guard position, Stacom also can run the club, but he would be better off as the shooting guard.
Gary Bello, a junior who saw little action last year, and Rick Santos, a junior-college transfer, are candidates as DiGregorio's replacement. Santos is the favorite, but there is also 6'4½" freshman Joe Hassett to consider. The best high school player in Rhode Island last year, he has a DiGregorio reputation as a passer and, remarkably, lives even closer to the campus than his backcourt predecessor did—which is to say he practically came out of the boiler room. Barnes can expect rebounding help from forwards Mark McAndrew and Bob Cooper, a two-time All-Service and three-time All-Navy selection whose chief job was recruiting boots. That's a switch the Friars hope will help boot them home.
There are days when Coach Al McGuire, burdened as he is with the responsibilities of fame and wealth, does not come to practice. And there have been days, like a recent one, in which he came late and departed early. During his few minutes courtside he gave $30 to a former player and fell into a loud argument with a current one. The final thrust was the player's, a 5'10" bench warmer. He told the coach to shut up. McGuire smiled. Later, while eating shrimp in a restaurant he partially owns, the coach said he did not even know what the fuss was about. "I am," said McGuire, "75% bull and 25% serious."
And who isn't at that traveling road show on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee? Mary Beth, Al's lollipop-licking secretary? Mike, the information director, who says that creeping foliage will be the ruin of the concrete and asphalt school he once loved? Chris, the 384-pound student sports editor who skipped picture day to buy a case of beer? And certainly not the zanies clad in fringe-tinged Sand-Knits with the Menomini Indian stripes who will likely appear at an arena near you this fall.
The Warriors are small, young, inexperienced and not very deep. The only senior starter, Guard Marcus Washington, is a poor shooter from anywhere on the court. But he offers the mature leadership the team needs. "There were jealousies last year," he says. "This year there won't be so much hassle."
It is difficult to presume who would hassle 6'9" Maurice Lucas, whose 11 rebounds and 15 points per game credentials are the team's best. When last observed, Maurice was pitching quarters on the gym floor, clad only in nylon briefs. Lucas needs the sartorial advice that freshman Bo Ellis can offer. Skinny Bo is interested in fashion design. Better, he can score. Earl Tatum, who played little as a 6'5" guard, switches to forward.
The real guards are Washington and Lloyd Walton, who sat out last year after transferring from Moberly JC and signing, for a while at least, at Jacksonville. Walton (doesn't everybody have one?) wants to break Dean Meminger's three-year assist record in two years. Somebody tell Lloyd that Allie McGuire holds the Marquette assist record.
And somebody else tell America that a coach and a team that are 25% serious have, the last five years, won 88% of their games and played the nation's third best defense. All of this with Al McGuire in self-described "retirement" and without chalk drills, films or very much offense. Somebody's conning somebody, right, Al?
It may never reach the popularity of some of those dances they do on American Bandstand, but Dick Clark—a Syracuse graduate—should pay heed to this one. When the Gorilla catches on, historians will record that it started at Manley Field House on the Syracuse University campus and its founder was neither Hank Ballard nor Chubby Checker. Dennis (Sweet D) DuVal does the Gorilla, and all his teammates just die to copy his moves.
Coach Roy Danforth lines up his basketball team, each man at arm's length, and sends DuVal to the front. Sweet D slides. The team slides. Sweet D glides. The team glides. He moves his hands. They do, too. He walks, he talks, he crawls on his belly. Ditto the team. It is all a reaction drill the Orangemen have developed to keep themselves just a fraction quicker than their opponents, and it and some very good players helped them post a 24-5 record last season, the most wins ever by a Syracuse team.
Three starters—DuVal, Rudy Hackett and Bob Dooms—return from a team that finished 14th in both wire-service polls. Jim Lee, the sixth man, gains a starting position in the backcourt with DuVal, who moves more like his idol Dave Bing the longer he plays at Syracuse. DuVal scored at a 19.5 rate and totaled 113 assists last season. Lee, who appeared in every game, shot 44% as a sophomore and complements DuVal's spectacular moves with his consistency.
Hackett, at 6'8" the tallest man on the squad, plays forward, while Dooms, 6'5", is the center. It all seems kind of small by modern standards, but DuVal says, "I guess on paper you could say that, but what counts is what takes place on the court." He means, of course, that the team has its share of leapers. Dooms is a steady rebounder; he does not give away his position. Hackett rebounds, too (10 a game in 1972-73), and he has added 20 pounds, mostly in the shoulders, to the 190 he carried last year.
The Orange had counted on Fred Saunders, a 6'7" transfer from Southwestern Louisiana who enrolled at Syracuse this fall, to provide them with even more strength under the boards, but NCAA detectives put a hold on that action. Too bad, but not fatal. The schedule is not overly tough and there is plenty of additional help to come from the likes of Tom Stundis, Steve Shaw and Scott Stapleton, all of whom played last season, sophomore Mark Meadors, who did not, and Chris Sease, a non-predictor. The Orangemen will have them dancing in the aisles at Syracuse whether it's the Gorilla or not.
There is something inherently unfair about this Bluegrass tradition. Last year marked the 41st renewal of the Southeastern Conference basketball race, and for the 28th time the same thing happened: Kentucky blue and white paraded to the winner's circle.
New Coach Joe Hall won the derby on his first mount, even after stumbling out of the gate. Kentucky rallied for 10 straight victories in the stretch to beat Alabama, Tennessee and Vanderbilt by a game, largely on the spirit and poise of sophomores Kevin Grevey, Jimmy Dan Conner and Mike Flynn. They promise to be even better as juniors.
Grevey honed his considerable abilities this summer with the U.S. team in China. A complete player, equipped with DeBusscheresque mobility and a soft outside touch, Grevey saved his best performances for the title push, averaging 33.5 points over the last six games, mostly from beyond 20 feet. Conner, the other forward, is a deft passer and the indomitable Flynn, who eschewed his high-scoring prep style to become the Wildcats' top defensive man, brings grit and size to the backcourt at 6'3".
Senior Ronnie Lyons, a little freckle-faced towhead who resembles Dennis the Menace, has recovered from the stomach and ankle injuries that made last season his winter of discontent. A fine shooter whose quickness and court awareness more than compensate for his 5'9" stature, Lyons should be a menace again. The departure of 6'11" Jim Andrews, it was feared, would leave the offense with a gaping hole in the middle, but the feeling now is that UK may be better off without Andrews' moodiness than with his 20 points and 12 rebounds a game. Junior Bob Guyette, while two inches shorter, excels in the three Ds: diligence, desire and defense.
Offensively, Hall will try to open up the middle for drives off Guyette screens, but the Cats will rely mainly on outside marksmanship and a devastating fast break by those thoroughbreds of his. Further, the coach's stable of competent subs is fuller than ever, giving him confidence to go 10-12 deep. Two of these are black freshmen from Western Kentucky, Larry Johnson and Merion Haskins (brother of the Phoenix Suns' Clem). Hall, who feels he lived a "fishbowl" existence last year as the replacement of a legend, is gradually erasing the racist reputation under which Kentucky basketball long labored. The Wildcats should win. If their talent does not accomplish that, tradition will. "Kentucky never graduates that," Hall say.
There were times last year when Penn Coach Chuck Daly must have cursed the Ivy League's ban on freshman play. As his varsity was struggling to a 21-7 record (which really is struggling at Penn), 6'8" John Engles was leading the freshmen to a 15-1 record. Finally Daly could control himself no more. "I love him!" he shouted as Engles made one outtasight move. Assistant Rollie Massimino had another thought: "I'll marry him!" Massimino has since taken the Villanova head coaching job (presumably with a broken heart) and Daly adoringly watches Engles improve his varsity. Such is Engles' presence that Penn can afford to alter its long-revered system of tight defense and patterned offense. "We will fast-break more," says Daly. "I haven't seen many kids who can outlet the ball like John can." His moves vaguely resembling those of a teen-age Westley Unseld, Engles has exceptional strength and the endurance of a marathon runner. When he teams with 6'8" Ron Haigler, the East's Rookie of the Year in 1972-73, Penn has one of the best forward combinations in the country. Haigler beat St. Joseph's of Philadelphia and Manhattan with shots at the buzzer. "The pressure doesn't really bother me," he says.
But will it get to the guards? One sure backcourt starter is John Beecroft, a crack free-throw shooter (87.7%) who won the Princeton and St. John's games with one-and-one situation proficiency, but Daly doubts that he can hit from the perimeter. Bill Finger, Whitey Varga and Ed Stefanski will try out for the other guard spot. It may go, however, to 6'7" Bob Bigelow who played guard, forward and center last season, "it was my schizophrenic year," he says. "I'd like to help the team any way I can, but Fm best at forward, rebounding." Maintains Daly: "We don't have any guards who can stick the ball. Bigelow is important here. If he plays guard, he must shoot." Otherwise he will compete for Penn's only forecourt vacancy with John Jablonski, Larry Lewis and 6'11" Henry Johnson, the team's only center-sized center in recent history. No problems here.
Penn is a team of paradoxes. It is young (no senior may start) but experienced (only one senior started all games last year). It had the second-best defense in the country but will give up more points while scoring more. There are no two ways about Penn prospects. The Quakers ended last season by losing to Providence and Syracuse in the NCAA regionals. The only place they can hope to avenge the losses is in the NCAA regionals. No problems here, either.
15 AUSTIN PEAY
There would have been only slightly less of a stir around Austin Peay last year had Fly Williams arrived wrapped in swaddling clothes. Before Fly, Tennesseeans along the Cumberland regarded college basketball as somewhat less amusing than holding a June bug on a string. Those outside Clarksville who knew of Austin Peay mispronounced it (it's Pee) and few but opponents found delight when the Governors took the court. For nine years in the Ohio Valley Conference Austin Peay never had a winning season and in four of the five years Before Fly it finished last.
"We couldn't get good white players," Coach Lake Kelly says, "and to recruit black, you need a black recruiter." So he hired Leonard Hamilton, who forthwith ventured to Brooklyn, N.Y., found Fly and ended ignominy. In his second appearance as a freshman, Williams scored 42 points. "People described him as if he were something sighted over Pascagoula, Miss.," a student recalls. Twice Williams hit 51 points, breaking a 12-year-old OVC mark, and his 29.4 average boosted team scoring to 93.1, third highest in the land. The Little Red Barn where the team plays (capacity 2,500) grew hopelessly inadequate. AP won the OVC title and beat Jacksonville in the Mid-East Regional. It bowed 106-100 to Kentucky in double overtime.
"This is a climactic year," Kelly says. Enrollment has fattened to 4,124 and an 8,500-seat gym is under construction. New, too, are nine players, but with Williams still around, little will change. Pointman Danny Odums (10.1 points per game) and Wing Percy Howard (11.4) rejoin him, along with 6'5" Richard Jimmerson, who moves into the post. Joe Johnson, an All-America at Gulf Coast JC last season, will replace Wing Howard Jackson, a two-time All-OVC selection who broke both legs in a fall from a roof last summer. Jackson's rebounding will be missed, but Kelly hopes to be compensated by more scoring from inside. Kemp Hampton, Ralph Garner and Fred Lee also figure in his plans.
For Williams, too, a climactic year approaches. "The Peay's got to win and I do, too," he says. "This place grows on you, but what I want in life I can get faster in the pros." Austin Peay ranked 15th nationally in its average margin of victory during 1972-73, and the Govs suffered five losses by a total of eight points. A better defense could have won those and that is what Williams and the team are working on. "No more I shoot, you shoot," he says, "and we'll fly." In Clarksville they'll take a Fly over a June bug anytime.
Last year when the Crimson Tide finished 22-8 and made its first appearance ever in a postseason basketball tournament, even Bear Bryant took notice. He accompanied the team to the NIT and sat, sometimes quietly, at the other end of the bench from Coach C. M. Newton. During one particularly exhilarating game Bryant jumped up several times to object to the officials' apparent myopia. Afterward in the locker room he apologized to Newton: "Gee, I was afraid they were going to give us a penalty." Wendell Hudson, Alabama's first black player, laughed, "It's a foul in this game, not a penalty, coach." In such ways are Alabamians beginning to learn about the strange game of basketball.
Three starters return and the Wave had the best recruiting haul in the conference, which should mean that Newton will not be caught offside in the race for the Southeastern Conference title. But hold it. One of the missing players, Hudson, was the undeniable leader on the floor and the unflappable counsel off court. Forward Glenn Garrett and sixth man Paul Ellis will be more easily replaced. "Finding a leader is the thing that concerns me most—more than who we play," says Newton. "Wendell was so good that the others just naturally looked to him. You can't force that kind of leadership on just anybody."
Guard-Forward Charles Cleveland, All-SEC as a sophomore last year, could be the man to direct the Tide's roll. He was the one the team looked to for one of those behind-the-back passes from midcourt that hit a teammate in the chest under the basket or to go one-on-one for the clutch bucket. Senior Guard Raymond Odums, a streak in the backcourt, is also back to lead the hot fast break and, hopefully, the league in assists again. Sophomore Leon Douglas, the 6'10" center who intimidated so many shooters in his first year, has shed some of his reserve and developed quick inside moves on offense. Nicknamed Grampa because of his age (19), Douglas' consistency and improvement offensively are the keys to the kingdom. Alabama will probably start freshman T. R. Dunn at one forward and junior-college transfer Charles Russell at the other. Dunn is so fluid that he sometimes is overlooked, but he rarely makes a mental error and he often comes through with the big play. There is more raw athletic ability on the bench than anywhere this side of the Alabama football field. And come to think of it, down there at the end there is likely to be a man named Bear who doesn't like to lose.
17 NEVADA AT LAS VEGAS
Consistent with his new surroundings, he is called Tark the Shark, a name recalling the tricky monikers affected by underworld gangland chieftains, at least in the movies. But though Jerry Tarkanian, the new coach of the Las Vegas Jackpots, would never be mistaken for a mob capo (his shoes are unpolished), he has already brought into town enough hit men to make John Shaft throw down his shoulder holster. Tark imported LA's Big Lew from the Avenue, Pittsburgh's Jeep and Houston's half-Japanese Massao Owens, freshmen all, to light up the Strip. He transferred a couple of junior-college triggermen from Idaho and Arizona to take care of the backcourt. Quicker than you can say Godfather, he treated Las Vegas to a brand new Family.
The school and community, in turn, have demonstrated renewed interest and support for the team: tickets are sold out at Convention Center; over 1,500 people paid $50 a plate at a fund-raising sports dinner; the governor made a speech and so did Shecky Greene. "I love it here," says Tarkanian. "Weather great, people terrific. 'Course if I start losing, I won't like nothin'."
That is hardly likely. Las Vegas had two returning stars even before Tarkanian went to work: 6'9" Jimmie Baker and 6'4" Bobby (The Phantom Phenom) Florence. Baker averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds last season, including a dominating game against San Francisco in which he outrebounded the entire Don front line. Florence, a thrill-and-spill artist on the offensive board, has a nose for points, having averaged 25 a game, scored 44 against Houston and made 24 of 35 shots against San Francisco.
The real problem will be in coordinating all those new faces. Already Lewis Brown, the 6'9" freshman center, has been a budding malcontent, loafing and initiating fisticuffs in practice. Conversely, the one-on-one prodigies in backcourt get along fine.
Tarkanian would like to start two junior-college recruits, muscular Ricky Sobers and shooter Lawrence Williams, but Williams cannot dribble and he has been hurt. So his job falls to 6'7" Eddie (Massao) Owens, who is cat-lithe, electric and poised. Despite his height and swing position, Owens could be the floor leader, freeing Sobers to concentrate on scoring. Jeep Kelly, quickest of the bunch, and Pat Bolster, ah, bolster the guard corps. The Rebels could use inside depth, but that should not matter. The schedule is a cookie, and victories should come easy as pie-say about twice a Baker's dozen of them.
Try this for instant trauma: in the first 30 seconds of his college debut Alvan Adams, all 6'9" of him, lost the tap to the Indiana State center, who picked up the loose ball and put in a layup. "Then we came down to our end and when I shot against the same center he blocked it," Adams recalls. "I made my next shot, but I think my whole season could have changed if that guy blocked that one." Hardly. Adams finished the game with 34 points and 28 rebounds. He finished the season as the Big Eight's Player of the Year despite missing the last five games with a broken wrist and despite one other small point: he was only a freshman.
If Adams dominated the conference last season, he might just smother it this time around. He is a bit stronger, a bit quicker and a lot more worldly, having played in both China and Russia this summer. Adams, however, will be playing under a new coach, the Sooners' third in half a year. John MacLeod gave up college ball for the Phoenix Suns, and Joe Ramsey, an assistant, and Lester Lane, a coach of international teams in Spain and Mexico, became the finalists for his old job. Lane won out and Ramsey lit out on Interstate 35 to become an assistant at Kansas State, 320 miles away. But Lane, only 41, died of a heart attack in September, and Ramsey, who had already bought a house in Manhattan, Kans., was summoned south to Norman. "Naturally, I am ambivalent about the situation," Ramsey says. "I wanted the job, but I regret the way it came about."
With Adams, Ted Evans and Tom Holland, Oklahoma can play a towering and tested front line. But Ramsey might prefer to use his galloping forwards, 6'4" Herb Williams and 6'6" Melvin Baker. Williams is a prize junior college transfer. Baker a freshman from Gallup, N. Mex., in Navajo country. "We can create some one-on-one situations for Melvin," says Assistant Coach Larry Dunaway, who had Baker in high school. "We figure two things can happen—either he scores or he gets fouled." Or both?
The backcourt could be troublesome unless Ramsey finds a running mate for flashy Lee Gilbert. Mike McCurdy will till in while Percy Wells, who played behind Dwight Lamar at Southwestern Louisiana last season, is recovering from knee surgery. Jay Williams, another knee case, and John Breathwit could help.
The Sooners will be playing in a well-balanced conference, one made even tougher with the introduction last season of a 30-second clock. But they are prime favorites unless, of course, Adams has his first two shots blocked.
19 LONG BEACH STATE
It seems fitting that freshman Clifton Pondexter wears No. 41 for Long Beach State, his older brother Roscoe wears No. 44, and Leonard Gray No. 50. The uniform numbers indicate fullback, fullback, middle linebacker, but the trio appears equally suited to helping out at a tug-of-war, building excavation or nuclear holocaust. It would not be too surprising this season to find that some teams take one look at the 6'8", 230-pound Cliff, the 6'6", 220-pound Roscoe and the 6'8", 235-pound Gray and immediately call out the National Guard. If they are not enough, transfers Carlos Mina, the 6'8" Mexican Jumping Bean, and Floyd Heaton, a 6'5" former tight end himself, should provide sufficient intimidation to enable the 49ers to lead college basketball in terror again this winter. "If we can get to hand-to-hand combat, it's all over," says new Coach Lute Olson.
Along with imposing size, veterans and a fine tradition, Jerry Tarkanian unfortunately also bequeathed Olson enough dirty linen to make NCAA probation a distinct possibility in the eyes of the local gentry. However much the former coach carried out his prolonged negotiations with Las Vegas in the newspapers and had both schools wallowing in fantastic (not to say outrageous) offers, community feelings have since calmed, and Olson, who was summoned from neighboring Long Beach City College, is in full command.
The Tark-to-Lute transformation includes a quieter atmosphere, concentration on technology rather than emotion and constant man-to-man extended defenses. Olson has instituted a mobile passing game which has the 49ers switching and weaving as never before, but when it counts. Long Beach will again go to its inside jam game. There Gray, who has lost 20 pounds and gained new hope (his clashes with Tarkanian assumed alarming proportions), and the Pondexters should excel. Roscoe had a terrific rookie year, leading the team in rebounds as a sixth man. The dominating Cliff, though unused to stiff competition, is a fast and willing learner and one of the best freshmen in the land. "I hope so," he says.
Though the backcourt will miss Ed Ratleff, senior Glenn McDonald is still around to provide good defense while newcomer Dave Leslie is a shooter of repute. Little Rick Aberegg runs the break, throws flashy passes and delivers comedy antics as well as his famous cough. "I think he has TB," says Olson. Opponents are more worried about the 49ers' GTP: Gray and two Pondexters.
Before he leaves his present position to try something easier—like prosecuting Watergate or selling lawn mowers to Eskimos—let tribute be paid to Bob Boyd of Southern Cal. Now and forever Boyd is hearing things like "too bad about last year" and "where does it hurt the most?" But, in truth, last year his Trojans finished second in the Pac Eight, won 18 games and went to the NIT. The trouble, of course, is that he just doesn't beat UCLA—at least not often enough.
So Boyd keeps beating his head against the UCLA wall and one place where it hurts the most is in attendance, which was down last season at the Sports Arena. Football Coach John McKay has promised to spearhead a season-ticket drive this time, but it may not be enough to keep Boyd in what he calls "the toughest coaching job in America"; next season he has an open ticket to Duke.
As frustrating as the situation on the West Coast is, Boyd had an especially trying time of it last winter. Injuries, suspensions, players quitting and criticism for playing his son Bill all had effect. The final frustration was a St. Patrick's Day massacre at the NIT in which USC out-scored Notre Dame by nine goals only to lose when the victors took 33 free throws to the Trojans' two. "Skill of the Irish," says Boyd, dripping sarcasm.
Though all the season-end Trojans have returned, their offense has not. To correct bad passing habits USC will switch to a high and low post with less reliance on patterns. In backcourt Dan Anderson again is being promoted for stardom, but junior Gus Williams, an explosive operator who can rebound, too, is the Trojans best. Defensive specialist Biff Burrell completes a sound guard line.
Elsewhere USC will take advantage of what Boyd calls his "unconventional" inside men—Mike Westra, John Lambert, Clint Chapman and Bruce Clark—to "outdeep" the opposition. It won't be all that easy. While nice things are expected of Lambert, Westra always has proved inconsistent. And while Chapman was somewhat of a disappointment for one season, Clark has been that for three. Both men, though 6'8" and 6'9", prefer to spray away outside rather than burrow down under. For that job, muscular Bob Trowbridge, a potential defensive stopper, is well equipped. The Trojans are heavy in size and numbers (Bill Boyd is another medium-range threat, especially on the road away from the catcalls) but they are neither quick nor physical. "A year away" is Boyd's annual joke, but next year the coach himself may have gone away.