Louisville is located barely below the Mason-Dixon Line, but its citizens drawl in the Deep South manner of Scarlett and Rhett. Their talk is soft around the edges, with none of the nasal sound from the surrounding hills that conjures images of cars jacked up on cement blocks in the front yard. The natives rhyme the name of their city: "Lull-vull." Most of the rest of the country says, "Louie-ville," and when Denny Crum arrived three years ago, he called it "Lewis-ville."
That immediately marked Crum as a foreigner of the most deplorable sort, not necessarily a good thing to be in proud and provincial Louisville. But it turned out to be a pardonable transgression because Lull-vullers quickly found out that Crum knew a lot about two beloved local traditions, basketball and winning.
In Crum's first two years at the University of Louisville, he coached the Cardinals to 49 victories. Last season they won 21, despite playing with a front line of Mickey Rooneys. No one was over 6'5". Now bigger and deeper, they are the front-runners for the NCAA championship next March.
And running is Crum's game. His players need steel-belted radial sneakers the way they ignore speed limits. Their best ploy could be called, "Everybody Go Deep," with sophomore Wesley Cox taking the ball out of bounds and throwing it the length of the court to a streaking teammate. If that doesn't work, Louisville runs its offense. "We have one set play," says Guard Terry Howard.
Crum is 37 years old, and this is his first head coaching job after a long stint as an assistant to UCLA's John Wooden. Obviously, he is off to a good start. During his brief tenure at Louisville he has concentrated on amassing talent and this year the Cardinals have all they need. Nine of the first 10 players of a year ago are returning. Two others, Guard Phillip Bond and 6'9" senior Center Bill Bunton, who missed last season because of illness and injured grades respectively, again are healthy. Louisville has added a 6'10" freshman center named Ricky Gallon who, Crum claims, is the best thing to come out of Florida since the orange. "I can play 10 different guys with the first unit," he says. "We have more flexibility than ever before."
Last year's Cardinals had a big problem at center—they did not have one. Crum used Cox, his most gifted player, but at 6'5" even he was giving away too much height. Louisville had to struggle to get any rebound that did not first bounce on the floor. Bunton's return to the middle will allow Cox to move outside. Wesley averaged 14 points per game and eight rebounds playing out of position and was considered by some, not all of them citizens of Lull-vull, the best freshman in the country. As a forward, he should be merely devastating.
As valuable as Bunton is apt to be this season, he may be challenged for his starting job before March rolls around. Gallon is only 17 years old and needs experience, but he is 6'10" and can jump higher than anyone on the team.
Even with Cox and the two centers, Allen Murphy and Junior Bridgeman remain the nucleus of the team. Three years ago, when the University of Kentucky was getting all of the publicity for its "great" freshman team, Crum scoffed and said he would not trade Murphy or Bridgeman for any of the UK players. Those frosh are all seniors now, and Kentucky has another great team, but it's in Louisville, not Lexington.
Bridgeman was named Player of the Year in the Missouri Valley Conference last season. His roommate, Murphy, led the Cardinals in scoring, hitting 61% of his shots in league games, and he is the team's best defensive player.
Bridgeman is a psychology major, which may explain the unobtrusive way he moves around the floor, keeping the opposition only subliminally aware of his presence. "He's a quiet player," says Indiana's Quinn Buckner, "but at the end of the game he has 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, a couple of steals."
These two players are the major factors in the Cardinals' extraordinary flexibility. Bridgeman, 6'5", plays guard on offense; 6'5" Murphy is there on defense. "We can take advantage of the other team's weakness," says Bridgeman of the confusion the interchangeability causes. "I might wind up with a little guard on me, and Allen can beat those big forwards all day."
The Cardinals' first challenge will be to survive the initial weeks of the season relatively unscathed. Crum's teams never have won an opening game, and this year's schedule does not make an early victory easy to come by. Louisville begins with contests against Houston, Dayton, Clemson, Florida State and Marquette. Four of them are on the road. From there on, things are more favorable. The Cardinals should take their third Missouri Valley title under Crum and arrive at San Diego for the NCAA championships as the team to beat.
All of which should put to rest any skepticism that still lingers in Louisville about the outlander from the West Coast who has come to coach there. When Crum arrived, people suspected that he was just stopping off on his way to taking over at UCLA when Wooden retired. Last year Louisville tore up his contract and gave him a new five-year deal. Crum then bought a 232-acre farm where he can fish, hunt and ride his motorcycle. He likes Lull-vull, and it likes him, because they speak the same language. They both love winning basketball.
2 NO. CAROLINA STATE
Tobacco Road has not been the same these eight months since North Carolina State slew the bear and liberated the national championship from UCLA. First, there was all that hardware to admire. By the reckoning of the Associated Press, the team of the year also had the player of the year in David Thompson and the coach of the year in Norman Sloan. That meant trophies all around, followed by an orgy of clinics, camps, speeches, public appearances, dinners and charity drives. For a while the Wolfpack players and coaches hardly knew where their next autograph hound was coming from.
"All of a sudden," says Sloan, fat and happy as he begins his 23rd year of coaching, "I was very smart. I knew a lot of basketball. I was in great demand. I had to get an unlisted telephone."
The Wolfpack's 30-1 championship season provoked such enthusiasm in Raleigh that the players returned home to a prime-time televised pep rally. The sports information office answered publicity requests from as far away as Switzerland, and when the team toured the Far East in August, it was accorded Marco Polo treatment. Only around the Atlantic Coast Conference, where never is heard an encouraging word, was the response cold. "We still have to recruit against them," said one bitter victim of State's record 32-game winning streak in the ACC. "Besides, they went on probation two years ago to do it."
All the attention, good and bad, has had its effect, good and bad, on Sloan. "I know you have to pay your dues, but it got to be ridiculous," he says. "A shopping center would want to have a day for the team. It always turned out to be a day for the shopping center. A family might invite a couple of players to dinner, and when they got there they'd find 50 people waiting to meet them."
No one was in greater demand than the wondrous 6'4" forward, Thompson, twice a consensus All-America and heir apparent to the ACC's career scoring record. By Sloan's estimate, a less principled young man could have gleaned $50,000 from the glad-handers who sought to win his friendship by greasing his palm, not to mention the $2 million he could have picked up by signing with the Philadelphia 76ers. He rejected that offer just as he had a $1.5-million bid the year before.
"David will be all-pro the first season," says Sloan. "He's worth more money than any player ever. Not just because of his basketball ability, but also because he's the kind of young man he is. You become a better person just by being around him."
David Thompson is special, whether on the court or off. Since coming to North Carolina State he has played in 108 games, of which his team has won 105. He remains, refreshingly, as considerate as ever, giving freely of his time to those who call upon it, from prisoners to reporters. He rarely says no. "The demands have been great, but overall it's been nice," he says. "I'm in no hurry to leave."
This is not the same reticent youngster who arrived on the North Carolina State campus three years ago. He accepts the acclaim and attention more naturally now. Without being a show-off, he has the showman's ability to please the paying customers.
Thompson claims no special stature for himself, but he recognizes talent in others. "Great players can just play their normal games and be very good," he says. "Those are the ones who have the ability to make basketball an art. It comes natural for them. But not for me—I have to work at it."
His close friend, tiny playmaker Monte Towe, says, "David is always one of the first to want to play a pickup game. He's worked hard to refine his skills. He doesn't try to be showy. He just goes out to win."
Thompson has gone out to win 58 times as a varsity player and he has failed only once. His graceful presence all but guarantees similar success this year, despite the loss of Center Tom Burleson from last season's lineup.
For a while Burleson seemed suitably replaced by Tommy Barker, another 7-footer and the nation's outstanding junior-college player last year. But Barker changed his mind about coming to State and ended up in Hawaii instead.
Without the services of a "receiver," as Sloan calls the Maypoles in the middle, the Wolfpack is a different team, though not necessarily a lesser one. State was able to test a speedy, pressing lineup of two guards and three forwards in the Far East and again in September against the Russians. After coaching 13 victories in 14 games Sloan felt quite pleased with the adjustment.
The 5'7" Towe will once again beat presses, bomb from outside and defy all reason in the process. And underrated Moe Rivers now has a chance to gain some identity. "I can understand being in the shadow of David and Monte, but don't forget I've got some natural talent," he says earnestly.
The three forwards are Thompson, left free by Sloan to do what he wants when he wants, 6'7" senior Tim Stoddard and either 6'8" junior Phil Spence or 6'7" freshman whiz Kenny Carr.
"We're going to have a fine team," says Sloan, with the assurance of a man who knows one when he sees one. "These are good players. I've never been more relaxed, and the team is the same way. It isn't like last year when we had the anxiety of wanting to do something for the first time. I can take time to smell the roses."
This year State could catch the bouquet again.
You can almost hear the cadence, "Hup, two, three," as Indiana University marches onto the floor. Precision, discipline and self-sacrifice are the team's best players, and if the Hoosiers have the kind of year they are capable of, the military might regain its good name.
Indiana has everything it needs to win its battles: size, speed, experience and a defense that could hardly be more effective if the players used bayonets. And the Hoosiers have a commander who is no Sergeant Bilko. Bobby Knight earned his general's stars while coaching at West Point and his blood-and-guts approach to basketball shows it.
Knight has 12 of 14 lettermen back from a team that was 23-5, tied for the Big Ten title and then lost the playoff game to Michigan. Indiana went on to win the CCA's runner-up tournament in St. Louis. Now the Hoosiers are concentrating on making sure they do not miss this year's war games in San Diego.
Their key man is Kent Benson, a 6'10", 230-pounder who is commonly described as being "no Bill Walton." The only real resemblance between the two early last season was their red hair, but Benson's detractors forget that Walton did not start at UCLA in his first year because freshmen were not eligible then. Benson did play as a regular, improved game by game and wound up being the Most Valuable Player in the St. Louis tournament. As a soph he is quicker and decidedly more self-confident.
Another player who profited from last year's combat is Forward Scott May. The 6'7" junior gunned in 12 straight baskets during an intrasquad game a few weeks ago and he fits in perfectly with Knight's pass-and-cut offense that leads defenders through a Maginot Line of screens and picks.
At the other corner is Steve Green, slow afoot, but deadly of eye. He made 55% of his field-goal tries as a junior, the best percentage among Indiana's platoon of sharpshooters. Five of the team's first seven players hit near or better than 50% from the floor.
One of the two who did not was all-international Guard Quinn Buckner. For two years Knight threatened and cajoled Buckner about his insistence on wearing football pads while the rest of the basketball team conducted fall drills. This season Buckner did not play football and Knight feels he has a head start on Operation Field Goal.
Playing alongside Buckner could be John Laskowski, the Hoosiers' assist leader who was used as a sixth man most of last year but moved into the starting lineup at the end of the season. Now it is likely he will surrender permanently his reserve's title to Bob Wilkerson, a 6'6" junior who can be used at guard, forward or center.
Indiana has shown improvement in each of three seasons under Knight, winning 17, 22 and 23 games and capturing at least a share of the Big Ten title the last two times. Even though winning the league is hardly a certainty, the Hoosiers already are talking about an assault on the NCAA championship. They have the guns to do it.
A reporter called John Wooden the other day and asked, "Can UCLA come back?" Feigning puzzlement but surely having understood, Wooden answered, "Where have we been?"
For the first spring, summer and fall in eight years, where UCLA has been is off the throne and in the thick of also-random. How does it feel coming into a season as just another challenger? "No different," Wooden insisted. "We don't live in the past. We never made reference to the national championship when we won. We don't make reference to it now that we've lost."
Be that as it may, the Bruins are burning for the chance to come back, to show what they can do without Bill Walton, Keith Wilkes and the rest of the gang that won 88 straight and set college basketball on its ear.
Because of past standards, coming back means all the way, and that will be some task. For the first time since the Bruin reign began, UCLA has neither a dominant force in the middle nor an experienced leader in backcourt. And in October the team suffered a severe blow when illness benched promising sophomore Forward Marques Johnson.
Nevertheless, the Bruins are not yet Teddy bears. They do have some strength left—such as size, speed and talented players. Seven-foot-one Ralph Drollinger returns from a summer of mountain climbing to take over full-time at center where he filled in admirably for Walton. Senior Dave Meyers and sophomore Rich Washington hold down the corners. Meyers claws the backboards like a 6'8" wildcat. In the 6'9" Washington, he has a running mate of unlimited potential. Many observers compared last year's freshman pair of Johnson and Washington with the young Curtis Rowe-Sidney Wicks combination of several seasons ago. Rowe played the solid, workman role and Wicks was the uncertain child of brilliance. If Johnson cannot come back from his mild hepatitis—and Wooden is not counting on his return—Washington, often lazy in his first season, must take over as rapidly as Wicks did to fill the void.
Similarly, Andre McCarter, the quicksilver enigma in backcourt, will be a marked man. Since coming to Westwood from Philadelphia, the 6'3" McCarter has always played out of control, failed to adapt to Wooden's style and never shot well. With a starting position finally in hand, he is trying hard now and seems to be assuming a leadership role. Six-foot-five Pete Trgovich and little Jimmy Spillane will share backcourt time with McCarter, depending on how much Wooden needs Spillane's shooting or Trgovich's defense.
Though Swingman Gavin Smith is coming along, nobody seems possessed of that ideal "sixth-man spark" Wooden covets. As a result, the Bruins are no longer very deep, and the Pacific Eight is even talking about a conference race. Still, UCLA is UCLA. That might be enough.
5 SO. CAROLINA
Silver cuff links are in order for dapper Frank McGuire, whose 25th college team should be among his most sterling. It seems almost certain that South Carolina will enjoy its seventh straight 20-win season and earn its fifth consecutive NCAA tournament bid. But that does not indicate a thing about the Gamecocks' prospects once the postseason shooting begins. McGuire's St. John's team reached the national finals in 1952, and his North Carolina club won it all five years later, but with the Roosters it has been one early-round disappointment after another.
This South Carolina contingent breaks with the past in several respects, so there is hope that its tournament record also might change. The most recent Gamecock teams looked as if they all had hatched from the same egg: deliberate on offense, zone on defense, high scoring in the backcourt and thin on the bench. And, oh yes, a whole lot of New York-New Jersey kids saying, "Youse guys" in a region dominated by "Y'alls."
Times have changed. McGuire has netted enough fast-breaking, quick-handed, all-round talent to stock two contenders. And some of the best actually were raised on grits, not corned beef and cabbage. Junior Forward Alexander English, the leading returning scorer with an 18-point average, comes from right there in Columbia, where USC is located. So does 6'4" sophomore Nate Davis, the first man off the bench and, most likely, the first to jump clear out of Carolina Coliseum. The best player, 6'9" Center Tommy Boswell, transferred from South Carolina State where he averaged 24 points and 17 rebounds a game as a sophomore two years ago.
The remaining Yankees are just dandy, too. Freshman Jack Gilloon comes from New Jersey with ball-handling moves and long hair remindful of Pete Maravich. His arrival at the point position shifts Brooklyn's Mike Dunleavy to shooting guard. Dunleavy averaged 16 a game last year while setting things up for the lone graduate, Brian Winters. Joining Boswell and English on the formidable starting frontline is New Yorker Bob Mathias, a rugged 6'7" junior.
Add to this abundance a superior bench including defense-minded Mark Greiner, freshman Guard Billy Truitt, who is the team's best shooter, and fine playmaker Jimmy Walsh, and it's no wonder that McGuire is optimistic. "I'm expecting us to do well," he says, adding himself to that assessment now that he has recovered from a serious stomach disorder that caused him to miss five games last year. "We have a lot of possibilities, in what we can do and how far we can go."
McGuire has not been quite so upbeat about the Gamecocks' prospects since the John Roche teams, those marvelous clubs of a few years back that began the dual traditions of 20-game winners and failures in the clutch. Once again, the question for South Carolina is not how, but how far.
Cover your eyes, all you tradition-minded University of Kansas fans, because here they come now, marching down Jayhawk Boulevard and into your local X-rated movie house. Danny Knight and Rick Suttle, those twin 6'10" towers from over at Allen Field House have teamed up in the soon-to-be-released epic Linda Lovelace for President.
In recent interviews Knight and Suttle have gone to great lengths to create the impression that they co-starred with Lovelace. But Jayhawk rooters who missed the filming in Lawrence and do not plan to see the picture can breathe easy; their young heroes were only extras who carried a parade banner.
Still, those who want to see more of Knight and Suttle appearing together had better plan on going to the film. After platooning them for two years, Coach Ted Owens toyed with the notion that he had enough swifties at other positions to accommodate two lumbering big men in the lineup at once. But he has changed his mind. The luxury of being able to keep a player like Suttle on the bench indicates that Owens could lend three or four men to Kansas State and still win the Big Eight again.
Besides Knight and Suttle, three other double-figure scorers return: 6'6" Roger Morningstar, 6'8"Norman Cook and 6'3" Dale Greenlee. Morningstar is the forward with the baby face and the Indian name who turns on in pressure situations; Cook is the one who made 10 out of 10 shots in his college debut last year; Greenlee is a mid-America boy-next-door who makes A's in the classroom and would not dream of missing a free throw or an open jump shot.
Hot after the other backcourt job is Rick Bussard, once Morningstar's junior-college teammate. Where that leaves 6-foot freshman Milt Gibson, the outstanding high school player in the Southwest from Roswell, N.M., is a good question. Owens is also excited about two other freshmen guards, Marc Fletcher and Clint Johnson. Eight of his top 12 players hail from Illinois, which may explain why the Illini won only five games last season.
Owens' 10-year record at Kansas is a handsome 191-83, including six postseason tournaments, and last season's Jayhawk team made it to the NCAA semifinals. But all those successes cannot overcome the humiliation Owens still feels about the 78-61 NCAA consolation game loss to UCLA's second team after the Jayhawks led Walton & Co. by seven at the half.
"I decided right there and then that when we came back to the NCAA's the next time, we would be better prepared," says Owens. "And I think we are. The other day I heard Morningstar and Greenlee talking about winning them all. They've already figured out that would make us 30-0, so I know I've got a job of coaching ahead of me." If he pulls it off, it will be a show even the most staid Kansans will love to watch.
Alabama basketball has come a long way in six years, as Evelyn Newton, wife of Coach C. M. Newton, was reminded the other day when she made a trip to the cleaners. "Oh, you mean you're Mrs. Newton, the basketball coach's wife?" she was asked by the young woman behind the counter. "Well then, I've got to put tissue paper in the sleeves of these jackets before you can take them home. We've always done that for Coach Bryant, so I've got to start doing it for you, too."
Bear Bryant is also the Alabama athletic director and intensely interested in basketball, particularly now that Newton has made Alabama a power in the Southeast Conference and helped it capture the last two SEC all-sports trophies.
That represents a big change from 1968-69, Newton's first year as coach, when the Crimson Tide won only one conference game and set up C. M. for an almost perfect growth curve. From that 4-20 starting point Alabama grew to 22-4 last year. Bama finished 10-9-8 in the SEC during Newton's first three seasons and has been 3-2-1 the last three.
Unfortunately, last year's 15-3 conference mark was not good enough to win the title outright, and that cost Alabama its first NCAA bid. Vanderbilt, also 15-3, was the conference representative at the tournament as a result of its two close victories over Alabama during the season. And as host of the Mideast regionals, Alabama was obliged by NCAA rules to stay home and pass out ham sandwiches while the Commissioners Tournament and the NIT filled their draws with lesser teams. With Alabama out of action, the tournament crowds missed seeing an exciting team whose fast break and bruising board game had defeated Louisville and South Carolina on consecutive nights.
Gone from that bunch is playmaking Guard Ray Odums, whose misfortune it was to miss a wide-open layup that would have beaten Vandy early in the season. Otherwise, everything is the same, except that corn rows have taken the place of Afros as the semiofficial team hair style. Newton will replace Odums with the best player in the conference, 6'5½" senior Charles Cleveland, who has played guard off and on and will now team full time with 6'4" sophomore Theodore Roosevelt Dunn, who carries a big stick on defense and played more minutes than anybody on the team as a freshman. Newton did not recruit the big rebounding forward of his dreams, but he is happy with 6'4" Charles (Boonie) Russell and skinny 6'8" Rickey Brown. In the middle of this all-Alabama-born-and-bred lineup is the hulk, 6'10", 230-pound Leon Douglas. He averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds last year with a .602 shooting percentage and 78 blocked shots.
Newton's bench is loaded with more Alabama folks like Johnny Dill, Anthony Murray and Leroy Russell. His opponents are going to find C. M. taking them for his special treatment at the cleaners.
Now is the time for all good Ivy Leaguers to come to the aid of their conference. For too long the critics have gone unchallenged. How, they ask, can a league play winning basketball when it does not grant athletic scholarships and tells its freshmen to go play with their friends? There are several answers, but the easiest is Pennsylvania. Competing in Philadelphia's prestigious Big Five as well as the Ivies, the Quakers attract honest-to-goodness scholar/athletes. Over the past five years they have won the titles in both groups every season and have had the country's fourth-best overall record (129-19). Only a critic-squashing big win in the NCAA tournament is missing from the Quakers' list of accomplishments. This could be the year.
For one thing, the opening round of the NCAA playoffs will be held in Penn's own gym, the Palestra. Then the action shifts to Providence for the Eastern Regional, which are being held outside the South for the first time in 18 years. But it's not just fortunate scheduling that gives Penn high hopes of becoming the first Ivy representative since Princeton in 1965 to make the NCAA's final four. Everyone important is back from last year's 21-6 team, and they should cut the losses in half, despite the possibility of playing Indiana and Hawaii in the Rainbow Classic.
The best reason for the Quakers' lofty aspirations is 6'8" senior Ron Haigler, who last year became only the sixth underclassman to be named Big Five Player of the Year. The others were Ken Durrett, John Jones, Howard Porter, Wally Jones and Guy Rodgers. Haigler averaged 17 points in a subdued patterned offense. With Coach Chuck Daly looking to a more freewheeling, run-and-gun attack this season, Haigler's neat, sweet jumpers will be showing up all over shot charts. He scores points off the court, too, where he already has rolled up enough credits to qualify as a high school English teacher.
Six-foot-eight, 215-pound junior John Engles was last season's Rookie of the Year in the East and he bulldozes his way around the basket, plowing up opponents and scooping up rebounds. Penn's most improved player, 6'11" Henry Johnson, and 6'7" Bob Bigelow, who has played every position, will compete for the other frontcourt spot, possibly with 6'6" Larry Lewis, a returning starter who has been slowed by knee injuries.
So far, so good, but the Quakers' problem rarely has been the frontcourt. Last year not even John Beecroft's outstanding free-throw shooting (87.3%) and Ed Stefanski's ball-hawking could prevent defenders from concentrating on the big men. Now joining these 6'1" holdovers is a Penn rarity, a big guard. Six-foot-four Mark Lonetto, a high school All-America who averaged 22 points a game with the Penn freshmen, may be the key to the season. "I won't be able to penetrate as freely as I did last year," he says. "I'll have to stop short and throw up the 15-footer. But I have confidence in that shot." So do his coaches.
Lonetto also was recruited by schools like Notre Dame and North Carolina State. "I'm from around here," he says. "I wanted to play in the Big Five, and Penn has by far the best academic credentials." A statement, and an athlete, to give Ivy critics the creeps.
Darkness was rapidly closing in on the Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes, and at 2901 Covecrest two old friends took a last look at the ocean and then carried their drinks into the dinette to discuss business. The host was Los Angeles Laker General Manager Fred Schaus, and his guest was George King, the Purdue basketball coach and athletic director. You can guess the business. The pair had just returned from the 1972 NCAA finals at the Sports Arena, and as they sat down King surprised Schaus with a job offer.
"Have you ever thought about getting back into college coaching?" King said. "And would you be interested in coming to Purdue? I can't do justice to both my jobs." Schaus was interested but unwilling to make a commitment until after the NBA playoffs.
"That was the 33-in-a-row Laker team," said Schaus recently, fingering his NBA championship ring. "When we beat the Knicks, it made the Purdue decision easier. The Lakers will always be "my team,' but my contract had just run out and everything fell into place at Purdue. I love L.A., but it is a rat race these days and our new home here is probably a little nicer than the one we left behind. George King lives practically next door, Ross-Ade Stadium is across the street and my office is only 880 yards away. You better believe I let my good friends out on the freeways hear about that!"
Purdue people do not seem to mind that their coach goes around referring to another team with the personal pronoun "we"; the constant reminders that Schaus was associated with a big winner in the pros only enhances his image among Boilermaker fans. And the NIT championship his team brought back to Indiana last spring boosted Schaus' stock even higher on a football-oriented campus that has had nothing to cheer about except basketball since the 1968-69 season. That was also Purdue's most recent NCAA tournament year, but surely not its last. Schaus' present team seems certain to get a bid.
The Big Ten's revised 18-game round-robin eliminates schedule inequities that hurt Purdue last year, such as playing league-favorite Indiana only once—on the road. And the NCAA's expanded, 32-team tournament allows more than one school per conference to compete. That means the Boilermakers need not win the Big Ten to reach the NCAAs, but they just might do it anyhow.
Purdue's starters would not beat a lot of teams five-on-five, but Schaus' first eight or nine are a tenacious lot who play sticky defense. The only constants in the lineup are 6'11" senior Center John Garrett, a 60% shooter who should increase his 21-point scoring average considerably this year, and 6'2" Bruce Parkinson, a finely polished quarterback with the knack for delivering the ball to the right man at the right time.
Schaus has a flock of talented forwards to help Garrett rebound and two of them—look-alike freshmen Wayne Walls and Walter Jordan—are dangerous at both ends of the floor. If freshman Guard Eugene Parker can crack the starting lineup by the time the Big Ten season opens, the Boilermakers will be much tougher, and Schaus may even begin addressing them as "we."
10 SOUTHERN CAL.
A few years ago Bob Boyd could have had the Portland Trailblazers' coaching job for the asking. This season he could have moved to Duke. Instead, Boyd signed with Southern Cal for another five years, figuring if he was going to beat his head against a wall, it might as well be a Wooden one. Either Boyd is a blockhead or he's onto something.
What the 6'6" coach knows is that last year USC won 24 games, came within one horrible half of upsetting UCLA for the Pacific Eight title and another bewildering half from winning the Conference Commissioners runner-up bowl. He knows that this year's Trojans have 10 men from that team plus some outstanding freshmen. And he knows—or he thinks he knows—that this is the year the Bruins can be had. "Washington could do it," he says. "Oregon, Oregon State or us. I like us."
USC drew ohs and ahs last year with an innovative attack variously described as a "vertical offense" and a "hi-lo passing game." It tied up the defense and freed the bustling Trojans for close-in, uncontested shots. Sometimes the team appeared not to be taking enough of these freebies, but it wound up setting school records for field-goal percentage and, more important, total baskets. The Trojans' shooting percentage went up seven points to 50.2, with Gus Williams increasing his accuracy by five points, John Lambert by 12 and Bob Trowbridge and Biff Burrell by 16 apiece. Even Clint Chapman, who had an awful season of bruised knees, weight problems and deficient scoring, shot better than he did the previous winter. Except for junior Trowbridge, this group is USC's terrific freshman class of 1971 all grown up. It defeated UCLA twice as frosh, but did not come close during the Walton years. Already it is being called "The Last Chance Club."
If the 6'10" Lambert, a handsome devil whom Boyd calls, "My North Carolina-type forward," can shake a tendency to follow good Friday performances with Saturday blahs, and 6'9" Chapman can play back to his sophomore level, USC will be solid and active in close to the basket. It will be better in backcourt where Burrell, recovered from a broken foot that kept him out of the last eight games a year ago, and the exciting Gus Williams complement each other well. Burrell is an inspirational sort and a terror on defense, while Williams handles scoring (16 points a game) and assists (a total of 141 last year).
Trowbridge will need his impressive muscles to beat off the challenge of 6'7" freshman Earl (The Whirl) Evans, who could start anywhere and just might here. But it is no disgrace to be a substitute at USC. Boyd wants to use 12 men in every game and he has the bench to do it, including 6'10" freshman Steve Malovic, who was Arizona's high school player of the year. The Trojans are deep, experienced and very dangerous. They know this is their last chance.
The "e" on the end of University of Detroit Coach Dick Vitale's name is silent. That is the only thing silent about Dick Vitale. During Titan practices he sounds off with his built-in-megaphone voice: "Come on. Come on. Keep your body low. Quick. Quick. Quick. Getta good angle. Getta piece of 'im."
His whistle blows. "Freeze," Vitale yells. The Titans instantly become statues, so that their coach can walk among them and point out the error that he has spotted. "Don't penetrate without the ball because you clog the lane you want to open," he tells the offender.
Forward John Long sinks a shot, races downcourt and blocks an opponent's try. Vitale bellows, "Hey. Hey. Hey! Did you see what I saw? Goin' like gangbusters. I don't care if you are a freshman, you keep playing like that and nobody'll keep you out of the lineup."
Whistle. "Freeze." Speaking to freshman Turono Anderson, Vitale snarls, "You're not thinking defense."
Titan captain Terry Thomas says, "The coach is such a savage, but he never jams things down your throat. I've gone to five or six banquets with him and he got a standing ovation at each one. He's the most fantastic thing that's ever happened to me."
"You're not supposed to yell at kids, but they accept it from me because I've established a good relationship with them," says Vitale. "We know we can't win without love, without pulling for each other."
Vitale's vitality is catching. Last season, his first at Detroit, the Titans were 17-9. Home attendance was up 60%. A cocktail party raised $5,000 to spruce up the locker room, which now has red and white cabinets and a separate dressing area that is carpeted and stereo-equipped.
This year Vitale may have a 20-game winner. The Titans lost only one regular, and their schedule is a lollipop, including UW Parkside, Hillsdale, Illinois Wesleyan, Wayne State and Grand Valley State. As if that were not enough, the freshmen forced the returning players into double overtime before losing an intrasquad game.
Detroit lacks an imposing center, but 6'8" Walter Smith and 6'9" Ron Bostick are adequate, particularly since they will be surrounded by captain Thomas, who is 6'8" and muscular, and Wilbur Ross, a 51% shooter. Riley Dotson, Laval Perry and Dennis (Shake and Bake) Boyd return at guard and are joined by Larry Russell, a junior college transfer who averaged 25 points last season. Then there are all those freshmen whom Vitale will be shoe-horning into the lineup. Long, as his practice performance indicated, can play both ends of the floor, and Anderson is a swifty who once scored 29 points against Moses Malone even though he is only 6'3". And those two are merely the best of a crew of five exceptional newcomers. No wonder Vitale's excited.
To become the North Carolina State of the East, Maryland must replace the three big men it lost to the pros—Tom McMillen, Len Elmore and Moses Malone. Elmore, the leading rebounder in Terrapin history, now toils for the Indiana Pacers, while McMillen, Maryland's highest career scorer, commutes from his Rhodes scholar's desk at Oxford to play for a team in Italy.
Malone's case was different. The million-dollar baby from Petersburg (Va.) High School was not on campus long enough to go through freshman orientation, much less commencement. He took the money and ran all the way to Utah. "If somebody had offered me a million not to go to Duke, I wouldn't have gone either," says Coach Lefty Driesell. "I just hope this doesn't set a precedent. It could ruin college basketball."
With Elmore and McMillen, the Terrapins won 81% of their games the past three years, including 23 of 28 last season. The addition of Malone and the return of three other starters would have kept Maryland on the same pace. "We were a two-man offense last year," says Driesell. "Everything was built around McMillen and John Lucas. With Moses, it would have been the same. Now we'll need more balance."
The Terrapins still possess a superior backcourt led by Lucas, the cocky, 20-point-per-game-scorer. His running mate is another junior, Mo Howard. "No question Mo is the second-best guard in the country," says Lucas, leaving little doubt as to who he feels is the best, an assessment that is probably correct. "I'd like to give him my confidence and have his jumping ability."
Howard answers philosophically, "You've got to be a seed before you can be a flower. On a team with Luke, I'm willing to be a seed. Sure, I'd like to try the last shot in a close game. But Luke says, 'I'll make the last shot.' "
Since last season Lucas has proved himself to be the best tennis player in the ACC and the outstanding basketball player in two international tournaments. The first was the world championships in Puerto Rico. The other was played in Mexico City, where the Terrapins captured the Intercontinental Cup Games over five non-U.S. professional teams.
Mexico gave Maryland a rare opportunity to test its new lineup. The best frontcourt man is 6'9" senior Owen Brown. He is joined by 6'6" Steve Sheppard, New York's top prep player two years ago who was academically ineligible last season. The center is 6'9" senior Tom Roy, foul-prone and an uncertain scorer despite a long apprenticeship.
"Our guards are the best, but if Roy doesn't do the job, we won't have that good a team," says Driesell.
Lucas, of course, is more positive. "We have talent," he says. "This is our year."
It was almost inevitable that from Bill Walton's knapsack would come forth a generation of college centers with counterculture proclivities, and DePaul apparently has the first of the line in 6'11" freshman Dave Corzine.
Like Walton, Corzine is a fresh-air fanatic. When he strolled barefoot into a literary and dramatic arts class recently, his professor nearly threw him out, and probably would have if the temperature had not been a chilly 50° outside. To please Coach Ray Meyer, Corzine did have his hair "trimmed" before practice began, but his blond natural is still the equal of any Afro on campus. His regular school clothes are jeans and a T shirt worn under a leather trenchcoat that must have required the hides of two steers. On the court, however, there is nothing odd about Corzine's game. He has good moves to the hoop, a 15-foot jump shot that goes in and the assured look of a future star.
"Dave does have a mind of his own," says 6'9" Forward Andy Pancratz, who played with Corzine in high school. "But he's not likely to go in for things like macrobiotic diets in the near future. The kid eats like a horse."
Corzine was a callow sophomore at Hersey High School in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights when he scored 54 points in one game and first attracted the attention of neighbor Meyer and the rest of the nation's coaches. DePaul had to win an intense recruiting battle to persuade him to become its tallest player since George Mikan enrolled in 1942. Corzine should lead the Blue Demons into the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years, though it will not be an easy task. DePaul opens the season at UCLA, plays Washington State and Providence on the road, takes on Marquette home and away and has games in claustrophobia-inducing Alumni Hall against Manhattan and Notre Dame.
Fortunately for Corzine, he will have plenty of help, since Pancratz and three other starters are back from a 16-9 team. Rounding out the front court is 6'7" Bill Robinzine. He and Pancratz missed the first 10 games last season because of an NCAA suspension; DePaul was 5-5 without them, 11-4 after their return. For relief up front, Meyer will call on 6'4" sophomore Ron Norwood, a transfer from Essex County (N.J.) Junior College who could also start at guard except that he is not really needed there. Last year's regular backcourt men are both capable of 25-to-30 point nights. Nettlesome Greg Boyd is only 5'9", but he can peck away from the outside or sneak in for a layup. Cool Jim Bocinsky sometimes concludes practice with a little game of one-on-one against girl friend Lynn Metz, a DePaul cheerleader.
Corzine is not so lucky. Meyer has him skipping rope, jumping over benches, shooting hook shots with either hand and playing one-on-one against a little man for an extra half hour every day. The ritual, except for some dancing lessons, is the same one Meyer used to make a player of Mikan.
"We thought DePaul was out of the running for Corzine," says Meyer, who has now won 494 games in 32 seasons. "But I live right near the family and his parents told me, 'Please be aggressive in recruiting our son. He is an only child and we would like him to play close to home.' That's the kind of good family he comes from, the kind that puts up lights on their house at Christmastime."
By then jolly old Ray Meyer should have victory No. 500 tucked safely away in a knapsack of his own.
14 MEMPHIS STATE
Memphis is a city famous for good music. It began with jazz down on now-faded and tacky Beale Street and continues today with recording stars like Isaac Hayes and Al Green. But the sweetest sounds this winter could be the rhythmic swish of basketballs dropping through the nets as Memphis State drums opponents into the floor and heads for a lofty spot on the charts. In fact, MSU is so heavily laden with talent that new Coach Wayne Yates may have trouble persuading his players that the best way to the top is through teamwork.
After five years as an assistant coach, Yates took over when Gene Bartow left last spring for Illinois. He quickly signed up a flock of players who jump so high that they need clearance to land. The group includes junior college transfers Marion (Elevator) Hillard, David Brown and John Tunstall, plus widely-sought freshman John Gunn. The newcomers join the nucleus of last year's team that played like a band of squabbling gypsies on the road and lost nine times away from home. Still, the Tigers were good enough at home for a 19-11 record and a trip to the NIT.
Point Guard Bill Laurie is one of three key players missing from that club. He likely will be replaced by flashy Dexter Reed, a star as a freshman when he led MSU in scoring; he is so good that he still should get plenty of points even while filling the role of playmaker.
The Tigers expect even better things from 6'5" Bill Cook, a sure all-star pick in the Weight Watchers league. Cook puffed to 215 pounds last year, was hampered by injuries and still averaged 16 points. This season his weight is down 30 pounds after two months on a simple diet: he ate practically nothing. "It was amazing, I thought I was going to starve," he says.
Memphis State has a host of fierce rebounders. Hillard and Gunn, both 6'9", seem to have the inside track on the double post positions, although 6'10" letterman John Washington might disagree. "Gunn dominates practice," Yates says. "And he picks on the seniors."
The Tigers lacked cohesion last year and the rate at which they conserved energy on defense made them a model for these days of shortage. Ensuring that everyone hustles this season will be Yates' toughest task.
All of MSU's home games last year, including the two losses, were played before vociferous sellout crowds. This year's record should be even better, since the schedule is as soft as a senior citizen's diet. Memphis State plays 18 games in the Mid-South Coliseum, and some of the opponents are Montclair State, Wisconsin at Green Bay and Missouri at St. Louis. Even the most rabid MSU fans should have heard enough sweet sounds to be ready to go home by halftime.
The real test will come during the postseason tournament. If Yates can convince his players to hold out their hands on defense instead of on offense, the Tigers could be a jazzy band. Otherwise, they'll be playing the blues.
15 NO. CAROLINA
Almost all of the factors that made North Carolina's helter-skelter, musical-chairs style of play so successful in recent years—speed, depth and experience—seem to be missing this season. Fortunately for Coach Dean Smith, the most important ingredient remains. Overall talent. Highly recruited, blue-chip, put-the-ball-in-the-hole talent. It is the kind that has given the Tar Heels an .800 winning percentage since 1967.
Like most superstructures, North Carolina possesses a foundation secure enough to withstand all but the most treacherous winds of competition. The Tar Heels will remain among the title contenders in the stormy ACC despite the graduation of their two leading scorers, Bobby Jones and Darrell Elston, the medical discharge of starting Guard Ray Harrison and the academic demise of Donald Washington, who failed for the second time to regain his eligibility.
"When you consider who we lost, you really can't say anything about our team will be better," says Smith. "There's no prosperity around here like there has been. Some people are even saying that Carolina is dead. Well, that just isn't so. We're used to winning, and we will keep on doing it because this is a good team. A different team from what I've had in the past, but a good one just the same.
"Our defense, for instance, might not produce turnovers that have given us so many easy baskets. But I can't believe I'll ever have a bad defensive team. That's the biggest challenge to me, getting the defense up to par."
North Carolina has plenty of quality players, but not enough to allow another "Blue Team" of third stringers to race en masse onto the floor to hassle the opposition for two or three minutes every game. And the talent is young as well as thin. Only two of the first seven players are seniors.
The Tar Heels are strongest in the frontcourt where 6'9" junior Mitch Kupchak, 6'8" sophomore Tom LaGarde and 6'5" sophomore Walter Davis should start. With increased playing time, aggressive Kupchak might blossom into a superior center. Last year he averaged in double figures and was the team's second leading rebounder. Davis did not start until late in the season, but still averaged 14 points a game. Like another Tar Heel swing man, Charlie Scott, he can be explosive. Ed Stahl, a 6'10" senior, will play a lot. He shoots like a guard, but often rebounds like one, too.
A paucity of experienced backcourt men makes it easy for freshman Phil Ford to assume a starting role. Ford averaged 31 points per game in high school and wowed his teammates in the preseason. Sophomore John Kuester, the kind of hard-nosed hustler Smith likes, should also start.
Adversity has made these Carolinians more cohesive than last year's team. And as Smith's many unselfish squads of the past have proved, a good bunch of Tar Heels who stick together can gum up the opposition almost every time.
Coach Fred (The Fox) Snowden (page 41), who leads the league, if not the country, in optimism, says this will be his best Wildcat team yet and "one of the five best in America by the end of the season." The Fox is way up there in hyperbole, too; he calls Forward Al Fleming "the finest example of superior skill, dedication to coaches, compassion and love for teammates and fellow human beings that I have ever coached." Fleming also shot an NCAA-leading .667 in 1973-74, which doesn't hurt.
What will hurt Arizona's chances of winning the Western Athletic Conference championship that has eluded Snowden two years running—the 'Cats flopped in the season finale both times—is the absence of the two leading scorers who helped put Tucson on the basketball map. When Eric Money and Coniel Norman went pro via the hardship draft, they took along 42 points a game.
Offense continues to be the priority. ("Defense," the standard WAC lampoon of Snowden's philosophy goes, "is what you put up to keep the dogs out of the yard.") But this time the attack shifts from outside to what Snowden calls, "Rasslin' the boards and banging it home." In the 6'8", 215-pound Fleming and the 6'10", 225-pound Bob (Big Bird) Elliott, an impressive scorer and rebounder as a freshman, the Wildcats have the muscle to get that done. There is even talk of moving Elliott, an awesome customer in the post, to the corner to make more use of 6'10" Bob Aleksa, 6'8" Jerome Gladney and 6'8" Phil Taylor in close. Aleksa, a rock of Lithuanian extraction, is mechanically strong. Taylor, a freshman sleeper from Denver, bears a strong resemblance to Sonny Liston. Gladney weighs in at 225 and is taking boxing lessons. The Wildcats will be physical.
But will they be quick and poised in backcourt? Snowden thinks so. "Last year Money and Norman created so many things on their own we didn't have to go to set plays," he says. "We'll still run, but with more control."
For poise there is steady Jim Rappis, who keeps everybody happy by giving up the ball. The other guard position will be fought over by freshman Gilbert Myles and sophomore Gary Harrison. Harrison, another Michigan product in the Money mold who was kept under wraps last winter, could be the surprise of the conference, while 6'5" Herm (The Germ) Harris is certain to be some sort of surprise.
In the past The Germ has taken turns astounding the populace (20 points in 20½ minutes against Illinois) and getting thrown out of games for bizarre behavior. He dislocated his ankle in preseason, but may be healed in time for WAC competition, "He needs growth, headwise," says Snowden. "But he has talent up the wazoo."
If all the young Wildcats control their heads, growthwise, they are capable of leaving the entire WAC stranded up some strange-sounding place.
Now for this season's basketball quiz. Where is Manhattan College located? Ah, ah—not so fast. The school was built at Broadway and 131st Street in Manhattan in 1853, but has since been relocated in the Bronx. What is a Jasper? No, it is not a creature with the head of a leprechaun and the body of Raquel Welch. Manhattan's nickname derives from one Brother Jasper, who was the school's first athletic director. What famous American sporting tradition did he create? The seventh-inning stretch, of course. It seems some Manhattan fans were getting unruly during a baseball game, and old Brother Jas told them to get up and stretch. The New York Giants liked the idea and later popularized it. You can check it out. If you blew these questions, you are forgiven, but no basketball historian should miss this one: What top-ranked team did Manhattan knock off in an NCAA first-round game? Answer: West Virginia in 1958.
Jack Powers, who has been coaching the Jaspers for six years, scored 29 points in that 89-84 upset. Manhattan has been a favorite in most of its games during his tenure. Never, however, like now. All five starters, including the nation's fourth-leading rebounder (15.5 per game), 6'10" Billy Campion, return from two consecutive 18-win seasons. During the most recent one, they played 17 games away from their home away from home, Madison Square Garden, and led all major colleges with 10 road wins. This season things should be easier because the Jaspers will play more games at the Garden, seven plus the Holiday Festival tournament and the Madison Square Garden Classic. That won't be their only homecoming. Tom Lockhart, a 6'6" forward who grew up several blocks from the campus, has transferred from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College, and he could bump either Mike Young or Tom Reilly from the lineup, once his injured right foot heals.
Lockhart is just the sort of lithe New York City player Powers loves. Indeed, the nearest thing he has to an outlander is his superb 6'3" guard and 17-point scorer George Bucci, whose followers take "Bucci-Buses" 70 miles from Newburgh, N.Y. to the Garden.
Bucci, Lockhart and Campion alone could make a big winner—they played last summer on a squad that went 9-0 in Israel and Italy—but there is more. Guard Charlie Mahoney is handsome enough to have appeared in magazine ads and is an even prettier picture on the court. Guard John Hurley and Forwards Frank Meehan and Ron Carrington give the team unprecedented depth. Last year Manhattan tended to collapse defensively at the end of games and gave up an average of 73 points. No more. You won't have to live in the Bronx this year to know what a Jasper is.
"I've never blown a whistle, worked a blackboard or looked at a film," says Marquette Coach Al McGuire. Despite eschewing these staples of his profession, he took the Warriors to their eighth postseason tournament last season and won his second Coach of the Year award of the '70s. This time that honor came from his fellow coaches, some of whom are beginning to regard the unorthodox McGuire with reverence.
They marvel at McGuire's ability to get his team to play his disciplined defense and patterned offense. They wonder how he accomplishes this despite publicized run-ins with his athletes and without showing up for many practices. For McGuire, it all seems to come as easily as the two technical fouls that led to 10 North Carolina State points and a victory for the Wolfpack in last spring's NCAA title game.
"I think I can feel the ballplayers and the situation," he said recently in his office. "Sometimes we have suicidal practices. Other times we have Sherman Billingsley chitchats. Whatever I feel they need. I've always done my work, it's just that I do it at a different pace.
"I completely blew my cool when I got that second technical in the NCAAs. I needed a rest after that, so I took one of my usual vacations—packed a few things and went off by myself. It's not true that I've gone to Tibet. I've tried twice, but I can't get a visa."
McGuire did not even flinch when his secretary, Kathy Buse, interrupted to inform him, "Your bank account is overdrawn." According to legend, McGuire never flinches. He is not even wincing at the thought of this season, although this is the third year in a row he has lost a starting center to the pro hardship draft.
Maurice Lucas indeed is gone to the ABA, and to replace him McGuire has undersized Jerry Homan (6'7" and 205 pounds) and a shoelace named Craig Butrym (7 feet and also 205). Otherwise the Warriors are set, particularly at forward with 6'5" Earl Tatum and 6'9" Bo Ellis. "Tatum is the most talented player I've ever coached and Bo was the best freshman in the country last season," says McGuire.
He also has a superabundance of first-rate guards, including playmaker Lloyd Walton, Dave Delsman and two freshmen who were high school All-Americas, Butch Lee and Gary Rosenberger. Walton, the only one of the four sure to start, wears a tiny gold cross in his left earlobe. "It reminds me how lucky I was to get out of my neighborhood in Chicago, where lots of my friends got hurt and killed," he says.
McGuire's capsule assessment of his team is, "About all we need is to have a couple more players get their ears pierced."
19 ARIZONA STATE
An art professor pondered the nude models in his life drawing class at Tempe recently and announced that it is "easier to make a rounded shape than a straight line." He also said he prefers not to advertise for models because "creeps lurk around the halls trying to peek in."
There is now another round shape to attract lurkers at Arizona State—the new University Activity Center where the Sun Devils, only about half nude, will be blazing on the fast break and playing "bluff, jump and fire" defense. So says Coach Ned Wulk, who saved his job two years ago by winning the WAC in an upset, then almost won again last season despite a break slowed down by a front line weighing almost 700 pounds.
The new arena is in large part a Wulk design and so is this year's team, being more lithe and capable of getting up and down the floor faster than the average Mack truck.
In Lionel (Train) Hollins, a 6'3" Lenny Wilkens type, ASU probably has the most complete player in the league. After an apprenticeship in Dixie JC in Utah, Hollins was supposed to have been the first black to play on the varsity at Brigham Young. Instead he chose ASU, where he averaged 17 points a game and impressed everyone with his smoothness and guile.
Completing the starting backcourt will be Rudy White, who sat out last season with lacerations on his shooting arm, or Mike Moon, who missed some of it with lacerations of the ego. Moon sat down until poor grades benched the man ahead of him. Then he had to play, and he averaged almost 10 points a game in the WAC. In preseason practice White was beating Hollins one-on-one. That means he is recovered enough to duplicate his outstanding sophomore season. That means Moon is blue. And that means ASU foes are in trouble.
Up front Wulk has problems, most notably the lack of a true shooting forward. Gary Jackson from Brooklyn looked like a star as a freshman, then faltered last winter. He is the team's best passer and offensive rebounder, but he lacks consistency. The other cornerman is apt to be slim Jack Schrader. These two combined for only nine points a game last year.
With an outstanding backcourt and untested forwards tending to cancel each other out, the key to ASU will be in the middle, where Scott Lloyd, a massive 6'10", 230-pound local boy, will be depended on to make good. Lloyd played behind an all-senior front line last year until laic in the season, when he showed rapid improvement and destroyed Arizona's Bob Elliott in the final game. Wulk prays Lloyd stays healthy because behind him is only a lamb. John Lamb, to be precise, all 6'9", 175 pounds of him. And the pivot is one place where it is definitely better to have a round shape lurking than a straight line.
20 BOSTON COLLEGE
Sooner or later it had to come. Someday the good young athletes of Massachusetts would stop swatting away every stray basketball with their hockey sticks and start shooting a few of them. It's happened. Boston College has often been a basketball power, but now it is one that is substantially homegrown. Three-fourths of the starting forecourt in BC's one-guard, four-forward lineup comes from the Boston area. And 6'10" Bill Collins, 6'6" Wil Morrison and 6'6" Bob Carrington can, as the jargon goes, plaaay. Collins is the team's leading rebounder (nine per game). Morrison, the Eagles' most improved player, helped them finish third in the 1974 NIT by scoring 60 points during the tournament. And Carrington. Ah, Carrington. He is one of the nation's top forwards. Fast enough to handle a quick guard on defense, deft enough to hit long jumpers, powerful enough to charge through traffic and double-pump on the way to the hoop, he averaged 19.4 points per game. But his fans don't call him "Superman." Proper Bostonians never exaggerate. They have nicknamed him "Smooth."
The rest of the key men on the squad are not from The Hub. BC scouts went to Cornwall, N.Y. to find 6'11" sophomore Paul Berwanger, nephew of Jay Berwanger, the first Heisman Trophy winner. The Eagles went well beyond the confines of New England for 6-foot playmaker Mel Weldon. The only starting senior, Weldon left Jersey City to become BC's first junior-college transfer and black captain. And where does that deep BC bench come from? Guard Mike Shirey, Swingman Jeff Bailey and Forward Syd Sheppard hail from out-of-the-way places like Chicago and Philadelphia. But they will play, too. After all, despite its famed provincialism, Boston is the cradle of democracy.
That BC's best players should come from hockey territory is only one of several paradoxes surrounding the Eagles. Coach Bob Zuffelato hopes to have a running team, despite its pro size. And for all his redwoods, he must convince skeptics that graduated Forward Mark Raterink, who averaged 13.9 points and eight rebounds, can be replaced. The Eagles also must rid themselves of a tendency toward lethargy that held their record to 21-9 last year. Zuffelato admits, "A few times we just showed up." BC was 6-3 in games decided by three points or less, but some of them—wins over Harvard and New Hampshire, losses to Holy Cross and Boston University—should have been breathers. This season's schedule is even easier than last year's because most of the tough games—Syracuse, Connecticut and Providence—are at home. That means the Eagles are likely to come into the NCAA tournament as the least regarded 22-4 team in America. Only their fans are likely to rate them as highly as that record would seem to deserve.