"Ninety percent of Einstein's solutions were wrong," says LSU coach Dale Brown. "And Jonas Salk had years of failures before he got the polio vaccine to work." Above Brown's head—blink!—the tiny bulb of discovery has lit. "Last year we were overpowered and outmuscled too often," he says. "When the season ended I told [assistant coach] Ron Abernathy, 'We've got to get us some big men. I don't care if we have to go to Uranus to find them.' "
Brown went to Yugoslavia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands, while Abernathy worked the rest of the solar system. Their haul: 7'1" Zoran (Z) Jovanovich, 19, of the Yugoslav army; 6'9" Jose Vargas of the Dominican Republic; and, best of all, 6'8", 240-pound John Williams of Los Angeles (page 120), who controls the court like the Brother from Another Planet. "I don't think we'll get pushed around much now," says Brown. Williams led Crenshaw High to the L.A. city championship last season, averaging 28.7 ppg and 14.1 rebounds. Add to all those newcomers spidery, 6'8" junior Jerry (Ice) Reynolds, last year's leading rebounder and ball stealer, and 6'8" sophomore Nikita Wilson and you begin to see one of Brown's real challenges: choosing his lineup. The other: keeping that lineup eligible. Look for Reynolds at off-guard, with Vargas, Wilson and Williams up front. But with either Derrick Taylor or Anthony Wilson at point guard, where do the Tigers put 6'6" junior swingman Don Redden? And what about the other Yugoslav freshman, a floppy-haired guard named Neboisha (Pistol Pete) Bukumirovich?
You can bet that Brown will keep experimenting until he gets the formula right and—blink!—the Tigers might just light up the NCAAs.
November 26, 1984