More than ever before, multiple defenses have become an integral part of college basketball. Last week coaches everywhere were busy shifting their teams in and out of a wide variety of zones and presses. Typical was Nebraska's use of a zone press, man-to-man press, straight zone and man-to-man against Oklahoma State. But perhaps the most successful exponent of the trend was Providence's Joe Mullaney, an expert in the art of combinations and zones (SI, Dec. 7). Mullaney's variable defenses have worked so well that at week's end Providence was the nation's only unbeaten major team.
THE TOP THREE:
1. PROVIDENCE (11-0)
2. ST. JOHN'S (9-2)
3. ST. JOSEPH'S (12-1)
Only minutes before his team was to play Bob Cousy's Boston College club, PROVIDENCE'S Joe Mullaney gathered his young players around a blackboard in the locker room and plotted a 1-2-1-1 zone press for use against the Eagles. The zone was designed to cut off BC's fast break and keep the ball away from 6-foot-8 John Ezell and Willie Wolters underneath the basket. It worked beautifully. The hustling Friars harassed Boston College's guards, and Providence led 26-8 after 10 minutes. After that it was easy. Bill Blair and Jim Walker, a slick, 6-foot-3 Cousy-type backcourter who sets up, ball-handles, shoots, drives and even rebounds with consummate skill, each scored 28 points, and the unbeaten Friars won 89-79. Three nights later Providence went back to its combination defense (for only the third time this season) against Canisius. It smothered the Griffs, Walker got away for 27 points and the Friars took their 11th straight, 86-60, in Buffalo.
For more than a half, DAVIDSON'S celebrated 6-foot-8 Fred Hetzel hardly looked the part of an All-America against NYU in New York's Madison Square Garden. First Clem Galliard and then Ray Bennett, both just as big as Hetzel but tougher, guarded him so relentlessly that he had only a single field goal and Davidson was behind 47-42 with 17 minutes to play. Then Coach Lefty Driesell sent in Don Davidson, who had been held on the bench with an ailing instep, to play the high post and Hetzel moved to the side. Almost immediately, the poised Wildcats began to assert themselves. They opened the middle for drives by Hetzel and Charlie Marcon, Davidson (the player) fought for rebounds, Dick Snyder, who scored 26 points, threw in jumpers, and NYU quickly faded. Davidson won 82-73, but Hetzel was not happy. "I'm just not a Bill Bradley," he explained dejectedly.
St. John's, still savoring its Holiday Festival victory over Michigan, was almost brought up short by George Washington. The flat Redmen had to go into overtime to beat the Colonials, 72-70, on sub Henry Guess' tip-in. But St. John's was sharper against Loyola of New Orleans. The Redmen routed the Wolfpack, 74-54.
Philadelphia's Big Five (page 18) had only one internal test, and VILLANOVA hammered La Salle 86-72. Its other members concentrated on out-of-towners. ST. JOSEPH'S routed Lehigh 85-55 and Boston College 93-71; TEMPLE trounced Delaware 65-46 and Navy 67-60; PENN, already bruised by La Salle and Temple, took out its vengeance on fellow Ivy Leaguers, beating Brown 73-63 and Yale 80-64.
Princeton, the Ivy favorite, had a scare. Bill Bradley, held to 14 points in 40 minutes by Yale, finally beat the Elis 57-56 with seven points in overtime. Bradley then scored 38 points as the Tigers smashed Brown 80-58. CORNELL, after a big 106-96 win over Syracuse, took Dartmouth 95-91 and Harvard 91-53.