SI Vault
 
THE TOP 20 TEAMS
December 01, 1969
Not in four years has anybody dared pick against UCLA. Even with Lew Alcindor gone, to do so now is still chancy. John Wooden's teams have always been good and this year's edition is no exception. But the Gamecocks of South Carolina, an almost all-New York team, and the Aggies of New Mexico State, not to mention Purdue with Rick Mount, may have enough finesse and—most of all—enough desire to unseat college basketball's biggest winner
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 01, 1969

The Top 20 Teams

Not in four years has anybody dared pick against UCLA. Even with Lew Alcindor gone, to do so now is still chancy. John Wooden's teams have always been good and this year's edition is no exception. But the Gamecocks of South Carolina, an almost all-New York team, and the Aggies of New Mexico State, not to mention Purdue with Rick Mount, may have enough finesse and—most of all—enough desire to unseat college basketball's biggest winner

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Florida State lost only one starter but the newcomers are so good that they have taken over three jobs. In Durham's 1-3-1 offense sophomores Rowland Garrett, 6'6", and Ron Harris, 6'4", play the wings with Vernell Ellzy, a 6'4" gazelle from Seminole JC, moving into the low post. Garrett broke all of Cowens' freshman scoring records last year while Harris, less spectacular on attack, is probably the best defensive player. Senior Randy Cable has shooting range and will come in against zones. Back for his second year as Florida State's quarterback is Skip Young, who was thrust into the point position by default last season and, after a period of unsteadiness, finally began passing the ball.

Durham has a stronger bench this year and hopefully his team can avoid the strange pits it fell into last season—losses to lightweights like Kent State, Rice and Georgia Tech. Recently his 9-year-old son made 952 layups out on the backyard hoop. He was going for 1,000 straight, but he didn't get there. Hugh Durham, going just as hard for the national rankings, should.

10 NORTH CAROLINA

Dean Smith is a latent Marine drill instructor. After putting his players through a grueling two hours of practice, the Tar Heel coach stops pampering them and makes them run enough wind sprints to wear out a mechanical rabbit. They sprint a quarter length of the court, touch fingers to the floor and sprint back, then sprint to half-court and back, three-fourths of the way and back, the full length and back. They do this over and over, until their tongues are dragging on the floor—all but Charlie Scott's, that is. During one preseason session, he finished half a court length ahead of everybody else, barely puffing.

After two regional championships and an Olympic Games gold medal, Scott is back for his senior season at Chapel Hill, and it should be fun because he is one of the best all-round players in the country. As a junior at forward and guard, he averaged 22.3 points a game, scored 40 points against Duke in the ACC tournament title game and 32 more and the winning basket against Davidson in the East final. Then he stepped into a telephone booth for a quick change and came out a dean's list student.

It is of some comfort to Coach Smith that, in tight situations, he can order his other people out of the way and let Scott go on his own, but the preferred, calmer style at North Carolina is a tough man-to-man defense, intelligent shot selection and tall rebounders. The important man in Scott's supporting cast of characters is 6'10" junior Center Lee Dedmon. According to Smith, he must develop into the Atlantic Coast Conference's best pivotman if the Tar Heels are to retain their title. The problems are that North Carolina lost starting Guard Dick Grubar, 6'10" Center Rusty Clark and 6'8" Forward Bill Bunting, and Dedmon, who was not discovered by his Baltimore high school coach until his junior year, has had a great deal of catching up to do.

Fortunately, Smith and his smooth assistants have their usual abundance of replacements on hand. The sophomores this time are 6'5" Dennis Wuycik and 6'2" Steve Previs from Pennsylvania, and 6'6" Bill Chamberlain, a quick and talented player from Long Island. All three were rabidly chased by top schools, and all three could start.

Which puts it up to Scott. Because of the team's inexperience, Scott will have to keep his mind off his promising future in pro basketball, law school and politics and concentrate on beating South Carolina and Duke. "It brings on a challenge," he says. "I'm just hoping we can jell." If they do not, Scott will take the ball. Anytime he goes one-on-five, Tar Heel chances are good.

11 VILLANOVA

Nine years ago when the head basketball coaching position at Villanova opened up, the wife of the coach at suburban Malvern Prep egged her husband into applying for the job even though Philadelphia newspapers had already conceded it to a number of big-time coaches. Two weeks later Jack Kraft was called out of a PTA meeting at Malvern to attend a midnight interview on the Villanova campus and three hours after that Villanova offered him one of the genuine plums among college coaching jobs. "I was dumbfounded," Kraft remembers. "I didn't hesitate, though. I knew I wanted the job and I accepted right then."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13