As befits realists who will start competing in the murderous Missouri Valley Conference next year, Louisville will try to get the most fun it can out of this season. A new practice gym is almost finished, and the Cardinals have fixed themselves up with a comparatively easy schedule that includes 16 (of 24) home games. Louisville also has its first Negro players, and one of them, muscular sophomore Sam Smith, should be starting in the pivot after a few games. With him in an able front line are senior Ron Hawley and a dead-eye long drink of water (6 feet 7, 180 pounds) named John Reuther. The Cardinals should earn a tournament berth; then on to the MVC. Shudder.
The Gophers have not won the Big Ten title since 1937, when Coach Johnny Kundla was a star. Now, following the lead of Football Coach Murray Warmath, Kundla has started looking beyond the ten thousand lakes for help, and this year the homebreds on the roster will be joined by three out-of-state sophomores—Archie Clark, Louis Hudson and Don Yates. All are Negroes; no Negro has ever before played varsity basketball at Minnesota. These youngsters will lose games with typical sophomoric mistakes but will win others with the speed for which Kundla chose them.
Larry Glass takes over as coach with one varsity guard, Davis Cupper Marty Riessen, in Australia and with two varsity centers limping on bad knees—but oh those kids! The freshman team is probably the best in the country. Freshman Coach Jim Bragiel turned on more charm than anybody else, and the Wildcats came up with five midwestern all-staters, including most-wanted Ron Kozlicki of Palatine, Ill. Still, with luck, the varsity will not have to lean on wait-till-next-year talk exclusively. Guard Rich Falk and Forward Rick Lopossa can score, and if sophomore centers Jim Pitts and John Printen come through, the Wildcats could make a run at the Big Ten title. Pitts has the ability to stand out, but his interest in basketball seems a bit lukewarm.
Four starters are back (one is back all the way to a reserve role) to give the Cowboys their best team since they made the Big Seven eight. Coach Hank Iba, patron saint of ball control, is so eager that he even admits to the heresy of longing to try a running game. He never had the horses till now, he says. Unfortunately, Iba's bench is too thin to risk it—he will have to retain his slowdown style most of the time. There is enough well-disciplined talent here, however, to battle Kansas State all the way for the Big Eight title.
Though Yale will supply some competition, the Tigers probably have the two best teams in the Ivy League. The varsity has All-America Bill Bradley, and the freshmen are already as good and soon may be better than their elders. Coach Butch van Breda Kolff has been more than successful at recruiting high-scholastic-average players—and next year the Tigers will be a bona fide national power. This year, waiting for the frosh, they are a vaudeville act. To show oft' Bradley to the alumni, the team is booked for three Christmas tournaments (only six other teams in the country play two) and for a one-night stand at Washington U in Bradley's native Missouri.
The basketball outlook was so bad here until Coach Fred Lewis arrived two years ago from Southern Mississippi that Syracuse could not even give away basketball scholarships. The team lost 27 at one stretch, an NCAA record. Alumni felt disgraced. With Lewis, Syracuse went to 8-13 last year, and the figures should at least be reversed. Lewis has a spectacular sophomore, Dave Bing, and Chuck Richards, 6-foot-8 transfer from Army, among other goodies. The schedule is going national, there is another good freshman team and the town of Syracuse, which just lost its pro team, has something to be proud of again.
Except for Guard Fred Goss, who has quit to concentrate on studies, the whole Bruin team that won the Big Six last year is back. UCLA could repeat, but its lack of height again will make things tough. Flashy Walt Hazzard still leads the Bruins. He is one of the best offensive players in the nation and one of the worst defensive players on the Coast. As he goes, so go the team's chances.
In the Mid-American Conference the Broncos' little (5 feet 9) Manny Newsome has led scorers two years in a row and, despite the fact that a large percentage of the league's best players are back, Manny should win again. Western itself will have a much more difficult time beating out Toledo for the title. But anyway games are always fun with the Broncos, who run and shoot relentlessly and can scare anybody on those things called "given nights." Since Coach Don Boven's team plays one of the toughest early-season schedules in the country, chances for given nights abound. The Broncos could shake up Loyola and Notre Dame early, since they catch them both at home in Kalamazoo in December.