The two best teams in division II have acquired their riches of talent by means of opposite recruiting strategies. One roams the globe in search of gold. The other mines the territory in its own backyard.
For several years, Jim Casciano of St. Michael's College of Winooski, Vt., has been logging the frequent-flier miles and has signed players from a trio of coasts: East, West and Ivory. The homebody is senior George Daway, a 5'10" guard from Boston; the Californian is freshman forward Bryan Duffy, who's from Arcadia. Then there's sophomore Michel Bonebo, the 7'3", 220-pound center. He has come 4,505 miles from his hometown, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, but he was at home around the basket last season, averaging 7.3 rebounds as well as 7.1 blocks per game.
The season-opening tournament at Kentucky Wesleyan will be a test for the Purple Knights, who may meet their hosts, the defending Division II champions. Kentucky Wesleyan coach Wayne Chapman lost a rare one from his own backyard when his son, Rex, chose to go to Kentucky (he was a star as a freshman last season), but all of the Panthers' five returning players are homebred.
Since 1950, Mount St. Mary's College of Emmittsburg, Md., has played in Memorial Gymnasium, a converted airplane hangar, posting a 348-77 record. Now the Mountaineers are moving to the new 3,500-seat Knott Arena. Though he'll miss the hangar, coach Jim Phelan has plenty of altitude in 6'5" Mike Tate, 7-foot freshman Chris Cavanagh and 6'10" Mike Grimes, who averaged 7.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game last season.
Southeast Missouri State will also occupy a new arena, the Show Me Center (capacity 7,000) at Cape Girardeau. The Indians have four starters back from last season's 20-11 team and two players from their 1986 national runner-up team: Ray Pugh and Carl Nicholson, who spent a year at junior colleges working on their grades.
The University of the District of Columbia boasts a front line averaging 6'9"—all starters from last year's 24-6 team. It also has a 6'7" forward in Cyril Cox, who comes from St. Georges, Grenada. When sports information director Jim McCannon asked for each player's most unusual experience, Cox wrote: "The invasion of my country."
The Nos. 2 and 3 scorers in Division III are back. With Kermit Sharp (28.8 points per game) leading the way, Clark University of Worcester, Mass., could return to the NCAA title game to avenge its 106-100 loss to North Park of Chicago last spring. Ohio Wesleyan's 6'2" senior guard Scott Tedder (28.5 points a game) passed up a chance to play centerfield in the Cleveland Indians organization to finish school and play another season of basketball.
Meanwhile, North Park is shooting for its sixth title since 1978 with three all-conference players, including 6'8" power forward Michael Starks, who had 30 points in last April's title game.
But the team to beat in Division III this season is Southeastern Massachusetts University—"the honest SMU," it has been called. The Corsairs were second in three statistical categories last season. Their .964 winning percentage (27-1) was second only to Potsdam State's 28-1. Their average offensive output of 93.5 was behind only Bishop College's 97.5. And they outscored their opponents by an average of 21.8 points a game, 5.1 fewer than category leader New Jersey Tech. Four starters return for this SMU, including ECAC player of the year Kevin Kolek. The unexpected addition is 23-year-old Waldemar Sender, a 6'8", 205-pound center from Warsaw. Sender defected last January while on tour with the Polish national team. Nebraska Wesleyan's top three scorers, Bill Weed (14.3 points per game), Steve Brugman (13.4) and Scott Miller (12.0), all went to Lincoln's East High and have played basketball together since junior high.
Fort Hays State in Kansas won the NAIA championship in 1984 and '85. It has three starters back from last year's 23-9 team, along with "the Michigan Connection"—three transfers from Hillsdale ( Mich.) College. Not surprisingly Fort Hays coach Bill Morse signals his defense with a special code. He uses towels of five colors: gold and black (the school's colors), and red, white and blue.