Three years ago, Robert Lee Sanders was washing dishes at a Bennigan's restaurant in Charleston, W.Va., having decided against attending college. A year later, Pat Madden was a backup quarterback at Auburn. Now, thanks to the persuasiveness of JACKSONVILLE STATE coach Bill Jones, Sanders and Madden are sharing the same backcourt. They should make the Gamecocks, who reached the Elite Eight of last year's Division II tournament, the preeminent team in the land.
Southeast Missouri State wants a shot at redemption after suffering a 27-point defeat by North Carolina Central in last season's national championship game. "We survived with speed and quickness," says Indians coach Ron Shumate. "But we lost to power, speed and quickness." So Shumate went out and got frontline power in freshman center Eelco Derks and 6'8" Thomas Thames, a juco transfer. They'll join a troika of guards, Dwayne Rutherford, Mike Lewis and Earnest Taylor, each of whom scored in double figures in 1988-89.
Kentucky Wesleyan coach Wayne Chapman has led the Panthers to 97 wins and a national title (1987) in four seasons, but he is still better known around the Bluegrass State as "King Rex's dad." This year's team is capable of changing that.
Two other schools could seriously contend for the national title: ALASKA-ANCHORAGE, which upset Michigan last season; and MILLERS VILLE, a team that has won 91% of its home games since coach John Kochan arrived in 1983.