This season the Hawks will go into a 1-2-2 to give Bantom more mobility and an opportunity to increase his 22-point scoring average. Forward Pat McFarland (18 points) and Guard Jim O'Brien, who for no strong reason shot little last winter, are other sure shots. O'Brien may lose his job by midseason to sophomore Fran Rafferty, whom McKinney identifies as "a real Philadelphia guard—they're such animals." The other starting guard will be the capable Mike Moody, who returns from a year's probation. Bantom, who fouled out of five games and accumulated 93 fouls in 28 games, must get more help on the boards from Bob Sabol, who does exceptionally well for a 6'4" forward but gets knocked down about 105 times a game. Fortunately, he is used to playing hurt. Kevin Furey, taller but somewhat less effective than Sabol, should improve and help out all around. Swingman Lou Peltzer already has and surely will play in some spot.
While Bantom was training for the Olympics, the rest of the team was touring Europe on its own and playing national teams, including Russia's. The 19-9 outfit of last season could be live games better this time around, which, all things considered, should be identity enough.
Overlooking the immaculate campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah is the newest temple of the Mormon Church. Its golden spire climbs just high enough into the sky to be seen half a mile away at the J. Willard Marriott Center, the second most important building on the priority lists of Provo Mormons. It is here that some 23,000 of the faithful will gather this winter to chant praises to that conglomeration of Yugoslavs, Finns, Indians, Utahans and Californians—otherwise known as the BYU basketball team—that hopes to win a record-setting third consecutive Western Athletic Conference crown, the Lord willing.
If He is, the rest of the responsibility could well be shouldered by the Clown Prince of Yugoslavia, Kresimir Cosic (Kresh-a-meer Cho-sitch), the 6'11" center who leads fast breaks, shoots a deadly dipsy-doodle hooker and disarms the fiercest of opponents with a grin that monopolizes his face. The smile may be on the wane this year because a limitation imposed on foreign athletes has made the 24-year-old Cosic ineligible for NCAA playoffs, should BYU get that far. So there is already talk in Provo that second-best may be better this year because the conference runner-up traditionally receives a bid from the National Invitation Tournament where Cosic, BYU is hoping, would be made eligible.
For a while this fall there was some question of whether Cosic would be eligible to play all. When drills opened in mid-October, he was nowhere to be seen and word was out that he was either 1) scouting for the Mormon Church in Yugoslavia, 2) recovering in Zadar from an illness he had contracted while on church assignment, 3) playing in China with a European all-star team—which indeed he had been doing earlier—or 4) none of these. The nones had it. Cosic simply was having trouble making plane connections in France, which was no way to treat a first-year coach, Glenn Potter, who was admitting freely that he had bought up all the goats' milk and Maalox in the Utah Valley. Cosic did arrive just in time for his fall classes.
Potter's nervousness was doubly compounded. Not only did he have the onerous chore of taking over a winning basketball team, but he was following the eminently successful and popular Stan Watts, who in nearly a quarter century at BYU compiled a 410-253 record, including two NIT titles. Luckily, Potter has come up with some of the quickest hands in the West in Guards Doug Richards, Belmont (Bill) Anderson and Grig Clawson, all fine shots and—surprise!—all from Salt Lake City. Anderson will add board strength with his 36-inch straight-up leap. "He just sorta floats up there," said one admirer. Brian Ambrozich will play one forward and possibly Cosic the other, with senior Jay Bunker trading off at center with 7-footer Steve Lackey. Complementing these are several other good forwards. If the combination works, too bad. BYU will be in the NCAAs without Cosic, and as religious folk well know, many are called but few are Cosic.
NEW MEXICO STATE
At the annual meeting of Missouri Valley Conference basketball coaches, New Mexico State's Lou Henson made a startling revelation before the society he had just joined. "We plan to use the Wishbone in our offense this year," he said. The Tulsa Kiwanis Club, hosts of a luncheon for the affair, politely applauded the announcement. Later on a newsman approached Henson and asked hesitantly just what was a Wishbone offense—in basketball. "One that scores about 45 points a game," the coach said.
Henson had to be kidding. For six years his Aggie squads have averaged 81 points, and John Williamson, the nation's sixth leading scorer and straightest shooter in the Las cruces area since Billy the Kid, could toss in 45 himself. "John is like a good pool player who knows how to handle the cue ball. He takes few bad shots because he seldom shoots out of position," says Henson. After sputtering early, the Aggies caught fire toward the end of last season. A final-game win over Marquette at Pan American Center, in which Williamson scored his team's last 12 points, was the highlight of a surge that included 19 victories in the last 22 games. The Aggies would like to keep the hot streak going, but that will not be so easily accomplished now that they have joined the Missouri Valley people. Still, says Williamson, a junior now, "We've played together a year. We've learned a lot. We'll be better this time out."