For decades the end product at quiet, leafy old Davidson College has been a species called the Davidson Gentlemen—hand-polished Southerners of good manners and great learning. The ivy on Davidson's walls is the real stuff; the Rhodes people come there looking for scholars (they have found 14, a remarkable figure for a 1,000-man student body); 70% of the faculty members are doctors of something or other, and it is the last place one would expect to find the best basketball team in the country. But there it is: the fastest, fairest band of educated ruffians around, coached by Charles G. (Lefty) Driesell. Davidson once settled for moral victories (having played the game, after all, like gentlemen), but Lefty will have none of it. "A moral victory," he has scrawled on a raggedy poster over the dressing-room door, "is like kissing your sister." Instead, he demands and gets hard-nosed basketball, a fast-break-first-then-wait-for-the-shot style that last season enabled Davidson to crack the alltime NCAA shooting record by hitting 54.6% from the floor. Four of Driesell's top men are back—the fifth, Captain Terry Holland, is back too, but as a coach—and there are three scholarly marksmen waiting in line for the one open spot on the team. All-America Center Fred Hetzel spent his vacation touring Europe by motorcycle, and the thought of his 6-foot-8, 230-pounder hunched over a bike gave Lefty the jitters all summer. But Hetzel returned—despite one smashup—to resume shooting at an average of 27.3 points per game and grabbing rebounds at an average of 13.5 per game. Circling the big man will be familiar teammates Barry Teague, who directs all the action and whose only liability is his 5-foot-11 height, and Don Davidson and Dick Snyder at the forwards, who are both 6 feet 5 and who averaged 29.2 between them. The open spot at guard will go to Charlie Marcon, a 6-foot-3 senior who played a fierce reserve last season. Two spare forwards, Paul Briggs, 6 feet 5, and Ronnie Stone, 6 feet 3, make up the top of the ready reserves. Of the seven, Hetzel inside and Don Davidson outside should outshoot everyone in the Southland again. Davidson's only fault last year was a tendency to stage fright in tournament play, a problem experience has now solved.
Like other squads farther down the list, this one resembles a football lineup in physical statistics. The only new starter, Guard John Thompson, measures in as the runt of the litter at 6 feet 1, 170 pounds; the rest go up from 6 feet 5 and 200. Each of the four holdovers pulled down at least 200 rebounds last season—a tribute to tenacious shot pursuit and blocking out, because Michigan is hardly the nation's fastest team. No one is likely to outrebound these Wolverines; to beat them, the other team will have to shoot better and more often, and that will not be easy. Michigan's shooting percentage last year was .470, and its scoring average per game 86.4. The off nights and brief stretches of complete collapse last season may have been caused by inexperience; the toughest problem this year will be the schedule, particularly within the Big Ten, which is packed with good teams. Michigan meets two of the better ones—Indiana and Northwestern—only on the road, while its sturdiest competitor, Minnesota, plays them at home. Michigan must win the Big Ten outright to get a chance at the national title. In case of a tie, under an odd conference rule, the team that has more recently represented the Big Ten does not go to the NCAA. But Michigan should need that excuse only if All-America Cazzie Russell's ankle, which he hurt late last season, continues to restrict him. In practice it has not bothered Russell, though he still limps a bit after a rest period. Russell is an enthusiastic young man with a 24.8 average who can do almost anything on the court, and is often compared to Oscar Robertson. Thompson, the other guard, is a steady performer but will have competition from George Pomey and John Clawson, who can swing to forward, and sophomore Dennis Bankey. At center Bill Buntin (23.2, 338 total rebounds) is a smart player with a fine second effort and a good touch out to the foul line. The forwards are well balanced. Captain Larry Tregoning can rebound and shoot if given room, which he will get from defenses that sag onto Buntin and keep an eye out for Russell. But Tregoning is most valuable for his defensive ability. Oliver Darden, 6 feet 7, 220, was considered an even better rebounder than Buntin by some of Michigan's opponents. Pomey, 6-foot-8 Jim Myers and 6-foot-10 sophomore Center Craig Dill give Coach Dave Strack a utility front line that would start almost everywhere else. This Michigan team has created such interest that for the first time students will have to pay—$1—to watch games. It will be a buck well spent.
Last year the Bruins were a near-perfect team, the abilities of the players meshing like the gears of a Ferrari. Any losses in personnel would have ruined UCLA's balance, and the talents of Jack Hirsch or Fred Slaughter will be missed as much as those of Walt Hazzard. Nevertheless the talent left behind and the talent arriving is quite ample. It will make an altogether new UCLA team, and a good one. Coach of the Year John Wooden has only two starters back—Guard Gail Goodrich and Forward Keith Erickson. But juniors Kenny Washington, a springboard forward, and Center Doug McIntosh were the sixth and seventh men on a seven-man team, and both played larger roles as the season wore on. And there are Edgar Lacey, the 6-foot-6 191-pound re-bounder, considered by many the best sophomore in the country, and Guard Fred Goss, who sat out last season. Before his vacation Goss was often rated the equal of Goodrich, and Goodrich is worthy of All-America mention. Goss is not the playmaker Hazzard was, but he is almost as quick and a better shot. Goodrich—"Twig" to his teammates—has gained about 15 pounds (to 170), and the extra weight seems to have given him more drive and range. After these two, Wooden is short at guard and, if forced, must bring Washington into the backcourt. Erickson, a volleyball Olympian, was the team's leading rebounder and is a fine defender; he was the anchor man on the famous zone press. Wooden has not decided whether current personnel will permit him to use the press, but on offense the Bruins will run. Wooden is from Indiana, and they run in Indiana. This team has the board power, with the addition of Lacey, to rely on repeated breaks. Lacey averaged 19 rebounds and 22.9 points with the freshmen, though he is no threat away from the basket. He is not the only bright sophomore prospect; in fact, 6-foot-7 Center Mike Lynn could beat Mcintosh out. Everybody will be pointing for the Bruins and their 30-game win streak; trouble could come in the opener at Illinois this week.
These have not been happy years for Kansas, a school with a basketball heritage of 66 seasons and 899 victories. Dick Harp took over as coach in 1957 to find that everyone in the state expected him and sophomore Wilt Chamberlain to win the national championship. The Jayhawkers finished second, and it was considered a disgrace. Then the record dropped to 32-43 for the last three seasons; home attendance, which averaged 15,500 in 1957, was down to less than 5,000 a game last year. Finally Harp resigned, and his assistant, Ted Owens, stepped up. Owens has tried to base a fresh start on the glories of the past. Kansas lockers have been painted with the names of past Jayhawker greats and photo murals proclaim scenes of old triumphs. Compared to his predecessor, Owens is lucky: there are no illusions about the national supremacy of this team. But with a powerful front line featuring George Unseld, a 6-foot-7 senior, and Walt Wesley, a 6-foot-11 junior, Owens has inherited what looks like the best team in the Big Eight. Wesley, only 19, is burdened with some faults—he plays too erect, drops his hands on defense, lacks a second effort—but he is an eager learner and is slowly correcting these deficiencies. He scored 32 points against Kansas State in his final game last year. Unseld, who averaged 18.4, is also working hard to improve himself. In the past he has tended to tire badly, but Owens believes that this was caused by excess weight; Unseld is 20 pounds lighter than last year's 240, and looks fit. Riney Lochmann, a 6-foot-5 junior who missed most of the 1963-64 season because of a knee operation, is well again and is set as the other forward, but he will have to watch sophomore Rod Franz, whose defensive and ball-handling deficiencies are forgiven as soon as he starts shooting. Guards Del Lewis and Dave Schichtle did not score much but were instrumental in something of a closing rush that Kansas mounted late last year. Even so Schichtle seems to have lost his job to 6-foot-5 Al Lopes, a converted forward in from Coffeyville Junior College. Lewis, a good leader, has an outside shot that might take some of the pressure off the big men. The backcourt's lack of speed will hurt. Owens plans to have his men pick up opponents three or four steps farther out than has been their custom, but they are not quick enough in recovery to gamble too much on defense. Hopefully, the big men will be there if anyone slips through, and Kansas should be able to handle almost anyone on the boards.
The stress is on strength this season at Duke, and many of the Blue Devils, in street clothes, could pass as piano movers. To make matters worse for the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Coach Vic Bubas has not been forced to sacrifice mobility for muscle; in practice the team has been playing the brand of ball that prompts 6-foot-7 senior Brent Kitching to show up wearing a boxer's mouthpiece. Even senior Haskell (Hack) Tison, who rises to a whiplike 6 feet 10, has eight new pounds, added by lifting weights. The overall effect is one of power on every play. There is firm purpose behind it all: Duke has been in the top 10 the last five years and the almost winner of the NCAA title for two seasons, and this year Bubas wants to go the whole distance. Stripped of last year's leaders by graduation, he is designing a new Duke around Center Tison and is surrounding him with strong men. The two 6-foot-6 starting forwards, sophomore Bob Riedy and junior Jack Marin, jointly weigh 410 pounds and run a mean front line. Both will double at center, too, and Kitching will back them up at 210 pounds, mouth guard and all. Stocking the backcourt are Pennsylvania imports Denny Ferguson (6 feet), Steve Vacendak (6 feet 1) and Ron Herbster (6 feet 2), plus New Jersey sophomore Bob Verga (6 feet). It is possible Duke runs the most rugged offense south of the NBA. The team employs a pro-style attack: plays start in set patterns and end up with everybody free-lancing. Tison plays center in the George Mikan tradition, with his back to the basket while the action swirls around him, clapping his hands for the ball and clearing a path on all sides by wriggling his backside. All this will bring many baskets, but Duke's weakness in rebounding may offset that edge. In the Atlantic Coast Conference the whole season is decided in a three-day March tournament, and Duke's enormous advantage here is poise. The Blue Devils seldom lose conference tourneys. It may be subliminal but part of that poise comes from Duke's dressing room: the team brings its own player and rock 'n' roll records to suit up by. The last time Bubas listened in, the Muscles were singing something that sounded like, "We're on our way to the NCAA, yeah, yeah, yeah."
6 SAN FRANCISCO
when the Dons' coach, Peter Peletta, arrived at USF four years ago he lived the first three months at an undertaker's. One day he commandeered a hearse to take him to the airport, and the driver went directly to a graveyard. "This thing steers itself," he apologized. But Peletta made the plane, and things at USF have been up ever since. The Dons have won two straight Western Athletic Conference titles and are being led toward a third by a genuine All-America in Center Ollie Johnson. They have minimal conference competition, and the differences between them and UCLA and Seattle are so small that any one of the three could win in the West without a surprise. Last year USF ran off 19 straight; in the loss to UCLA that broke the string a couple of pairs of tonsils were as responsible as anything else. The tonsils are gone, but the owners thereof—6-foot-9 Erwin Mueller and 6-foot-6 Joe Ellis—are back. The tonsils had greatly hampered their breathing, and both tired desperately against UCLA after USF had gone ahead by as much as 13 points. Ellis and Mueller, juniors now, were worked into the starting lineup at just about the time the team started clicking, and they give topflight help to Johnson. Ellis, so graceful, is quick enough to handle the small guards on defense and is tough enough to move up front and fight off the boards. Mueller, another superb defender, will start at one forward and Dick Brainard, a 6-foot-4 senior, will be at the other. Reliable if unspectacular, Brainard is a good shot. Most of the Dons are. The team was fifth in the country at .483 last year. Only one soph has made the squad and only two regulars were lost, so the players have no problems with familiarity of style. The big concern must be with depth up front; Ellis is so good at moving the ball that he cannot be released for fulltime forecourt work. He will team in the backcourt with 6-foot-2 Russ Gumina, who had to be rushed along last year as a sophomore, but should be smoother as a junior. Senior Huey Thomas has speed and may get the call against opponents who like to run. The one sophomore, Larry Blum, could pass and shoot his way right onto the first string before too long. Blum is only 5 feet 11 but he can shoot—he broke Bill Russell's freshman record—and he has both the eyes and the hands of a passer. Johnson was fifth in the nation in shooting percentage and 10th in rebounds, and opponents will have to concentrate on him. When they do, it should open things up for Ellis and Mueller. These fellows are not going to drive Peletta to a graveyard.
7 NOTRE DAME
it is impossible to ignore the similarities between Notre Dame's new football and basketball coaches. Ara Parseghian and Johnny Dee are both 40, each has a wife and three kids and, says Dee: "We were both better basketball than football players." A lawyer who has coached winners in college, AAU and pro ball, Dee inherits a losing (10-14) team and still has the courage to say in advance that "basketball is 80% coaching." Fortunately, as Parseghian did, Dee picks up a losing team that is chock-full of potential. The Irish had it last year, too, but the former sophomore stars suffered a junior letdown. Now they are seniors and, hopefully, ready to go again. What killed Notre Dame last season was, first of all, slovenly defense—opponents averaged 83.9 and topped 100 five times—plus sloppy ball-handling and inconsistent rebounding. The last was true despite the fact that 6-foot-6 Ron Reed and 6-foot-9 Walt Sahm each picked off 17 rebounds a game, to rank sixth and seventh in the nation. Dee figures to improve the defense, in one way, simply by disciplining the offense. The Irish will do no free-lancing but will stick to 16 basic plays. The shooters, led by Larry Sheffield (22.3 average) and Reed (20.0), are there, and if the defensive rebounding holds up, the Irish will run, run, run like the Gingerbread Boy. With junior Bucky McGann taking over much of the playmaking, Sheffield should be able to get off his dependable jump shot more often. He has the good moves, and so does Reed. At times Reed may switch to a high post and send the rugged Sahm to a corner. McGann, 6 feet 2, may also move into the high pivot. Jay Miller will be in one corner except when McGann goes into a post. Then Reed and Sahm will work the corners. Sahm is also a scorer, though on this team his 17.4 average was only third-best last year. These combinations, Dee thinks, make eight men out of his top five, and he has plenty of reserves. "This team," he says, "is pretty close, physically, to what I consider ideal."
Adolph Rupp says he was particularly "distressed" when the Kentucky football team collapsed early and got people thinking about basketball so soon. Not much sympathy is indicated—Rupp always sings the blues in November. His smallish Wildcats are talented, and the 11,666 people who months ago bought out Memorial Coliseum for the season should see another contending Southeastern Conference team. Though once again Kentucky goes to war without a big center, the assets of this squad conjure up images of past championship teams. Every good Rupp team has been built around strong, quick guards, and he's got them again. Tommy Kron, a 6-foot-5 junior, will handle one backcourt spot unless frontline deficiencies force Rupp to move him there. Kron probably will team with senior Terry Mobley, who is a hefty 6 feet 2. Mobley has to beat out Randy Embry, and though Embry is the better shot, he is only 5 feet 11, so Mobley's size and his ball-handling ability are likely to win him the position. Then there is Louie Dampier, a 6-foot sophomore who is being compared to Ralph Beard. Deadeye out to the circle—he hit 50% with the frosh for 26.7 per game—Dampier could force his way into the starting lineup by midseason. With Cotton Nash and Ted Deeken gone, the attack should be more fluid, as it was in those years when the guards played the key roles. But 6-foot-6 Center John Adams still has an important part to play, especially on the boards, and if he does not continue the improvement he began to show toward the end of last season, Rupp will have a serious problem. He will have to bring Larry Conley into the pivot, and Conley is only 6 feet 3. With Adams at center, Conley will play forward, where he is best suited. He and Pat Riley make the corners as strong as the guard positions. A 6-foot-3 sophomore, Riley is from Schenectady, N.Y., where he came within four points of Barry Kramer's career scoring record—and he can rebound, too. Another sophomore, a 6-foot-2 leaper named Gene Stewart, will fill in up front. Despite a significant increase in team speed, the defense does not yet appear as sharp as that of past seasons. Kentucky will return to a man-to-man defense, basically, this year but will use a 1-3-1 zone on occasion. Last season, after resisting for 33 years, Rupp finally tried the zone. Evidently he wasn't completely satisfied with the results.
For decades Minnesotans stocked their state university's basketball roster with muscular plodders fresh out of the 10,000 lakes. But they finally have given up and are recruiting out of state. The result is that for the first time since 1937, when Coach John Kundla was himself the star, the Big Ten title trophy could come to Minneapolis. The Gophers finished a game out last year, but they trounced Michigan 89-75 the last time the two teams met and, significantly, they did it the way people used to trounce them—agility over brawn. But those speedy out-of-state sophomores had a lot to assimilate last year. Kundla admits that he was almost ready to cancel his set offense when the team finally began to show it could follow the patterns at New York's Holiday Festival last December. The Gophers have no such option on defense—they must be harassing, particularly up front, because they lack height. This team must move to win, a fact that has been impressed upon it in fall scrimmages against a tall and classy freshman group. Both guard positions are set—juniors Archie Clark, 6 feet 1�, and Don Yates, 6 feet 3. Clark can be described simply as an all-round player, exceptional on defense. A mature undergraduate, he is 22—Minnesota found him in the service, where he was All-Air Force. Yates, from Uniontown, Pa., has bursting speed and exceptional jumping ability. Wes Martins is only 5 feet 11 but has a good shot, which makes him the right sort of man to rush in for a quick score. Mel Northway, 6 feet 8, 225 pounds, is sturdy and reliable in the post—a youth cast in the old Minnesota image. He sacrifices his own scoring potential—and he has a good short touch—by setting up the speed kids for drives and quick jumps. Kundla hopes to free Northway more this season with a double-pivot offense. The Gophers are set at one forward spot with Lou Hudson, a broad-shouldered 6-foot-5 North Carolinian. Hudson led the team last year with 18.1, and though he tends to tire, he is still the biggest threat on a well-balanced squad. The other corner post is currently assigned to Terry Kunze, a sophomore gun who failed to fire much last year. Kunze, 6 feet 4, has been moved from guard, and he does not look comfortable in the forecourt. He will have to do a better job working the boards to fend off Dennis Dvoracek (6 feet 6), who was no more than a spot player last year. Minnesota is one big forward away from being as good as anyone—which is just about what they said about UCLA last fall.
10 BRIGHAM YOUNG
When Stan Watts and his kid brother, Nick, were collegiate basketball stars, Mother Watts admonished Nick: "Always pass the ball to Stanley, son." This was unusual advice, because Stan played for Brigham Young, and Nick for Utah. "BYU deserves to win sometimes," explained Mrs. Watts, with unassailable motherly logic. Stan Watts is now head coach at Brigham Young, and this is the year BYU will win, not only sometimes but most of the time. A rival coach in the Western Athletic Conference says, "BYU's second team could win the WAC championship—if anybody could tell which was the second team." One surefire clue is to look for Center John Fairchild; the team he is playing on is the first team. Fairchild is 6 feet 8, a senior, skinny, at times lazy, dark and handsome. Unlike most big men, he is an extremely accurate shooter from the outside. If Brigham Young's foes know about Fairchild, they do not know all that goes with him, i.e.: the four other starters from last year's slow-to-jell team, a couple of frontline reserves, and the intact five-man 1963-64 freshman team, which won 14, lost none and averaged 109 points to 74 for its opponents. There is so much talent that shiny-pated Watts is almost embarrassed. "We have more depth than I can ever remember," he says. The deepest part of that depth is Craig Raymond, a near facsimile of a redwood tree. Raymond is 6 feet 11, and when he sweeps the boards, he passes off in almost the same motion that gets him the ball. With Raymond rebounding, the Cougar trademark—the fast break—should be more effective than ever. (BYU, unfortunately, thinks defense is something best left to McNamara.) If Raymond isn't the first of the sophomores to become a starter, Gary Hill will be. Hill is the alltime best Utah prep star, a fine shooter and salt-flat fast. In early practice sessions Watts had a "first" team of Fairchild at center, Mike Gardner, Dick Nemelka and Jeff Congdon (all lettermen) alternating at guard, and junior Steve Kramer teaming with senior Bob Quinney at forward. They are all hustling because a lot of likely lads want to play. Aside from poor defense, one question remains. Can all that talent flower fully under Stan Watts's genteel prodding? Watts is an extremely soft-spoken, low-key gentleman whose wildest tirade in 15 years as a coach was the remark to a losing team, "You fellows were pretty sloppy." At the moment, however, the Cougars seem mean and sassy.