Western Kentucky lost only two people from last season's 23-8 team: 1) its leading scorer and 2) the best player in its history. The Hill-toppers will replace the former, 6'1" guard Billy Gordon (14.1 points per game), with 6'4" redshirt Roland Shelton. The man replacing the latter stands 5'8", weighs 200 pounds and wears glasses. Upon meeting him, says forward Kannard Johnson, "We all looked at each other and said, 'He's the new coach?' "
Coach Murray Arnold isn't the insurance salesman he appears to be. He left an assistant's job with the Chicago Bulls to replace Hilltopper legend Clem Haskins, who has moved on to the University of Minnesota. From 1980 to '85, Arnold's Tennessee- Chattanooga teams ranked fourth in winning percentage in Division I (135-46, .746).
At Western he has players with the talent and experience to do what Chattanooga did: run and press. Forward Tellis Frank is 6'10" and agile enough to play point on the press. Clarence Martin, 6'8" and 235 pounds, is the strongest man in the Sun Belt Conference. Somewhere in between is the 6'9", 220-pound Johnson, whose weightlifting increased his shirt size from "real loose to tight."
The veteran Hilltoppers have gone from tight to real loose. And they've got Arnold for insurance.