- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Six teams from the South, five from the Midwest and a scattering from other sections will be among the leading contenders for No. 1 national ranking. The list, compiled by Joe Jares, Curry Kirkpatrick, Peter Carry and Billy Reed, is followed by scouting reports on other outstanding teams in the country and a look at the small colleges, Kenyon of Ohio in particular, and at the parlous state of ball handling.
"I think that very conceivably we could have the finest front line that college basketball has ever had," says UCLA Coach John Wooden. Of course, any front line that had Lew Alcindor at center would be scary, even if the two forwards were Tom Thumb and Tiny Tim. Alcindor's attributes, aside from playing musical instruments, are reasonably good basketball skills coupled with height—officially 7'1�", although Centers Rusty Clark of North Carolina and Dennis Awtrey of Santa Clara, rafter scrapers themselves, claim he is at least 7'3".
Whatever his exact measurements, Alcindor has dominated the college game for two seasons and most likely will rule this one. And the Bruins have considerably more than Tom Thumb and Tiny Tim to help him.
There is 6'5" Lynn Shackelford, whose strange, long-distance jump shot makes him the perfect complement to Alcindor; 6'6" Curtis Rowe, who averaged 32.6 points and 18.5 rebounds on last season's undefeated freshman team; 6'8" Sidney Wicks, a tough rebounder who averaged 26 points a game in junior college; and Jim Nielsen, an unpolished but effective boardman. If Alcindor gets injured or tired, in will go 6'8�" Steve Patterson, a red-shirt last season who in practice gave Alcindor some of his toughest games of the year.
But somebody has to shepherd the ball upcourt. Tricky Mike Warren used up his eligibility, and Lucius Allen is also gone, having managed to avoid classrooms but not marijuana and the law. So Wooden must do some fancy transplants. "We just don't have any as good around," he says, "but neither does anyone else."
One transplant patient is 6'3�" Kenny Heitz, who started at forward on the national championship team two years ago but rode the bench most of last season. He is deft and imaginative at getting the ball to Alcindor but still feels more at home in the corner. Bill Sweek, another ex-forward, seems to be the Bruins' best at leading the breakneck fast break. But the search for a backcourt man might end up with Wooden getting out the old Purdue sneakers and having a go at it himself, particularly if Don Saffer, the one man who has played the position before, doesn't recover from a back injury.
Spero as a name may have meant nothing before last summer, but for 20 years it has stood for beer, burgers and basketball in Chapel Hill. Spero Dorton, who runs the Goody Shop, one of the land's best campus drinking emporiums, says of the Vice-President elect: "He spells his name with an I, I with an E. We're supposed to use Y. But it's been a good year for us Greeks. Now if Carolina can play some basketball, everything will be perfect."