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Well, the son of the undertaker is gone, and it's like the old days again for Marty and his Bronx buddies. "Wha duh ya wanna do?" one of them would ask the laconic Marty (when Ernest Borgnine was playing the role). "I don oh," he'd answer, "wha duh you wanna do?" Last year nobody asked. They marched over to Rose Hill on Fordham Road and watched the Rams of Digger Phelps. It was the kind of show they knew and loved. New York basketball, all scrap and drive, "Duh bigga dey ah, duh hoddah dey fall." Before the season was over Notre Dame did fall and Marquette just managed to keep its balance in overtime.
The new season brings Hal Wissel as coach but no Martys to Fordham Road. Wissel left Lafayette (and Tracy Tripucka, the East's leading returning scorer) to replace Phelps and the one-year miracle. Wissel inherited starters Ken Charles and Bart Woytowicz and the cry has to be, "Waid a next yeah." Rutgers also has a new coach, but next year may not be Dick Lloyd's problem. Bill Foster, who departed for Utah, left Lloyd with John Somogyi, the New Jersey high school career scoring leader who came home after spending two years at New Mexico. Somogyi will wear No. 14, once the number of Bobby Lloyd, the All-America and Dick's younger brother. A supporting cast of 6'9" Gene Armstead, Steve Kaplan and Vinnie Roundtree will make Rutgers almost as attractive as its crosstown affiliate, Douglass College. Miss New Jersey, Miss Black New Jersey, Miss Teen-Age America and Miss Bikini U.S.A. all attend Douglass.
Philadelphia's Big Five has hired its own advertising and public relations agency, perhaps in the wrong year. Aside from Penn, only Villanova has the sort of team Philadelphia has grown accustomed to. Three starters, rugged Hank Siemiontkowski and Guards Chris Ford and Tom Inglesby, are back from the Villanova team that lost the NCAA championship game to UCLA—and the season by forfeit when star Howard Porter was declared a pro. Temple, La Salle and St. Joseph's play the feisty defense the city is noted for and each could be a spoiler. Temple especially. The Owls generally seem to start slowly, but then Coach Harry Litwack subdues his gnawing ulcer and things begin to happen.
In the rugged Ivies, Princeton is only third, but what a third. Shooters Brian Taylor and Ted Manakas have a friend in 6'10" Andy Rimol. Columbia, making new moves, has talented sophomores, and Dartmouth will add Bill Raynor to a team that already includes Paul Erland and James Brown, Hanover edition.
Three positive dark horses all come from the Pittsburgh area—Duquesne, Pitt and St. Francis. Lionel (Big Train) Billingy and Billy Knight will make their debuts for the Dukes and Panthers respectively, and St. Francis has Kevin Porter, a deadly shooter and passer.
Rhode Island may become the best in the Yankee Conference and one of the best in New England, if its transfers come through. Tops among them is Don Blackman, 6'8", from Duke. West Virginia's Wil (one L) Robinson, one of the nation's better guards, singlehandedly makes the Mountaineers a sleeper. In St. Bonaventure country, Syracuse, Canisius and Niagara, with Cleve Royster moving up from the freshmen to help Marshall Wingate, are around to pick up the pieces should the Bonnies fall apart. Georgetown, George Washington and American University, with outstanding rebounder Kermit Washington, each has at least one good player.
Between them, Kansas and Kansas State have won the Big Eight title 17 times since 1950, and one or the other should win again, although neither will dominate the conference as Kansas (14-0) did last year. State is strong, tall, experienced, not very quick and the league favorite. KU's guards, Aubrey Nash and sophomore Tom Kivisto, are so good that All-America Bud Stallworth has been moved to forward. However, the Jayhawks have not found a Clyde Lovellette, Wayne Hightower, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Bridges or (most recent of the big men) Dave Robisch to play the pivot. Oklahoma will be close if it can overcome its lack of reserves, but the most exciting team should be Iowa State, a lowly 5-21 last season but now in the hands of Maury John. He proved himself as a junior-college recruiter almost without peer when he was at Drake, and already he has at least three transfer students starting.
Not that they needed assistance that much, but fate and funds lent helping hands to Ohio State and Minnesota in the Big Ten when Michigan lost Ken Brady and Indiana lost George McGinnis, who traded his last two years for a contract with the Indiana Pacers. Brady, a 6' 10" monster and the central figure in the Wolverine offense and defense, had knee surgery in October and will not be back until January at best. Until then, Henry Wilmore will have to work his abundant talents overtime to get the points while replacement Center Ernie Johnson goes after the rebounds. Indiana's new coach, Bob Knight, would like the Hoosiers to forget their impetuous past, play defense and look for the good shot. That kind of gamesmanship and Joby Wright's decision to remain in school even after his name appeared on an ABA hardship list should compensate somewhat for the loss of McGinnis and all those football games. There are talented individuals throughout the league ( Illinois' Nick Weatherspoon is one, Wisconsin's 6'9" twins, Kim and Kerry Hughes, are two others), but Purdue is the only other team likely to be in contention for the championship.
Drake's Bulldogs, who represented the Missouri Valley in the NCAA tournament last year, have lost their bite with their coach and four starters gone. St. Louis and Memphis State should push Louisville. " Miami's Midgets" have grown up. Their tall sophomore class, which beat Ohio State, Purdue and Kentucky as freshmen, should help them repeat as Mid-American champions.