The Seminoles are strong up the middle with Lawrence McCray, one year older and 20 pounds heavier, at the low post and dependable Reggie Royals at the high post. That perpetrator of larceny, Otto Petty, who alternated at one guard with Greg Samuel last year, has moments when he runs the offense as well as anyone. Just a split-second slower than a hummingbird, he also has been known to throw perfect passes to infinity. Sophomore Dennis Burke, slightly more conservative, should provide consistency when Petty isn't humming.
Florida State lost three valuable men, Samuel, Rowland Garrett and the versatile Ron Harris. But as Petty says, "We lost three pretty good dudes and got ourselves four pretty good dudes in return." Burke and 6'9" freshman Greg Grady are both out of the New York area and will be eased in gradually. Two spectacular junior-college additions will complement King and Cole. Benny (Glide) Clyde, who has moves the dancers down at The Electric Eye, the town's soulful disco, would appreciate, is one. He moves smoothly upcourt and then suddenly takes off to drive on the basket or catapult himself to the top of Tully Gym for a one-handed rebound.
Showman Durham also has an O.J.—as anybody from orange-juice country should—Otis Johnson, to be more precise. O.J. is simply a stronger version of Clyde. Where Clyde will finesse opponents, O.J. will hit them like a glass of the stuff on the morning of a hangover. "The Man," which is what his players call Durham, has shown every indication of being pleased with either result. Clyde has a reputation for being belligerent, but King, his roommate, says, "He does not smile much and people think he's mean. But basically he's a pretty good guy." Well, it's not a rave review, but there will be plenty of those before next spring. On with the show and the high flyers.
Lefty Driesell, who has enjoyed neither luck nor success in tournament competition over the years, went out a winner for the first time last spring. Although the NIT championship was not exactly the one Maryland was after, it did relieve certain early aggravations and give the Terrapins precisely what they deserved. "I was emotionally worn out when it was over," says Lefty. "It was a very tough year. We started slowly and played badly. When we finally came on at the end we were playing great. I figured I deserved a rest so I took my family to Florida. But then I started worrying about next year and what all the other coaches were doing to get ready. I was home in four days."
Driesell, by his own admission, really does not have that much to fret over. After welcoming back the eight top players from a 27-5 team, he said, "This is the best situation I've ever been in. The only thing we have to worry about is overconfidence."
There seems little danger of that taking hold, especially with so many newcomers pushing veterans for playing time if not starting jobs. Big fellows like sophomores Owen Brown and Tom Roy. Little fellows like freshmen John Lucas and Maurice (Mo) Howard. From them should come the strong rebounding forward and the steady backcourt hand to help make a good team a better one. Game after game last season it was plain that if just one person could move the ball consistently the Terps would be terrors.
The most prominent returnees arc Tom McMillen, the 6'11" shooter who plays excellent defense, and Len Elmore, a superb rebounder and shot blocker. McMillen has survived what Driesell feels was the most pressure ever to face one of his players. "People have to realize that Tom is not a dominant-type player like a Jabbar or a Thurmond," says Lefty. With fewer responsibilities around the basket, the NIT's Most Valuable Player should be even more effective. Nobody ever has doubted that he can shoot. And nobody ever has doubted Elmore's abilities under the basket, although there is some question whether his knees, often hurt, can stand up to the pounding they get all season long.
Dependable Bob Bodell brings his long-range scoring eye to one guard position, and Jim O'Brien, the team's second-leading scorer behind McMillen, will again be effective coming off the bench. Because of knee trouble and general inconsistency, Howard White may lose out to Lucas, a Junior Davis Cup tennis player who would be happy to decide the position with a Ping-Pong match. "After all," asks Lucas, "you want to go with a winner, right?"
Maryland most likely will be less susceptible to the hazards of Atlantic Coast Conference road play where all of their losses came last year. But the ACC tournament presents another problem. For mental and physical agony, Lefty believes it is tougher than the final round of the NCAA. Of course, never having played there, he doesn't really know. But he'd like to find out—and possibly will.