They'll be showing Eddie and the Cruisers, Part 3 down in Fayetteville, Ark. this season. Razorback Coach Eddie Sutton likes his "cruiser" types, those big guards who run the floor like deer, jump out of the gym and have the wiry strength to check big people on defense. First it was Sidney Moncrief, then it was Darrell Walker and now it's senior Alvin Robertson.
That's putting Robertson in some major league company, but he belongs. He's widely considered to be the best guard in the Southwest Conference, and Sutton thinks he'll be a first-round, NBA pick, as were both of the Hogs' previous cruisers. Robertson, in fact, seems to have only one worry: Moncrief had sharpshooting Marvin Delph to help him in the backcourt, and Walker had Robertson. Even so, Sutton should continue the 23-victory pace he has established over the past nine seasons.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to miss Darrell," says Robertson, "particularly on defense. Sometimes I could almost read his mind." The top candidates to replace Walker are senior Ricky Norton and sophomore Willie Cutts, who looks so young he could pass for 14. Cutts would be an apt companion for Robertson, who wears braces—"Everyone's always asking me if I use a steel toothpick," he says—and who tried to grow a mustache in the preseason but failed. "Guess I'm just not mature enough yet," says Robertson.
Youthfulness is hardly a problem for junior Center Joe Kleine, a husky 6'11", 250-pounder who in hairstyle and work habits is reminiscent of a righthanded Dave Cowens. He plays bruiser to Robertson's cruiser and has been known to take a charge 10 times in one practice. Kleine is also the conference's best center not born in Nigeria; after sitting out a season following his transfer from Notre Dame, Kleine averaged 13.3 points per game in 1982-83. Helping Kleine are two unspectacular but solid forwards, junior Charles Balentine and senior Leroy Sutton.
There's no true backup for Kleine, but sophomore Darryl Bedford should help out underneath and could become a starter. So could the Hogs' most naturally talented player, unpolished sophomore Keenan DeBose—"He's got a chance to be as good as Moncrief," says Sutton. Redshirt freshman Mike Ratliff should contribute also. Both are Robertson-like ultra-athletic swingmen. Nobody said this had to be a one-cruiser team.