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Two other starters, Fran Costello and Charlie Crawford, return, as does Nehru King, a valuable sixth man. Kevin Stacom, a transfer from Holy Cross, probably will start at guard with DiGregorio. "We can be better from a standpoint of how well we play, if not our won-loss record," Gavitt says. The Friars were 21-6 last year and could improve if—among other things—Costello, an agile 6'8" swingman, shoots more often. Costello has been known to wear his custom-made bowler and spats or a zoot suit on occasion. He has also referred to himself as an anachronism, but he just may have the last word on Alumni Hall: "I know the Civic Center will be great for the program and I'm pleased. But personally 1 will miss the viable audience response at Alumni Hall."
When you've got it, flaunt it—don't make turnovers. That, essentially, is the philosophy of Gale Catlett, the young, enthusiastic and untried coach who has plans to shake off the dust coating on Cincinnati basketball. Cincinnati fans will be escorted to their seats by demure young ladies, the team will take the floor in snazzy redesigned uniforms and then unveil its nifty new ball handling and pregame routines. The arena will be darkened, the starting lineups will run through a spotlighted hoop to be introduced and girls in hot pants will sing the national anthem. The best will follow, for this year's team could be stronger than any since the Bearcats won national titles back in 1961 and 1962.
Since those days, two coaches, Ed Jucker and Tay Baker, abruptly announced their resignations in midseason. Even though Cincinnati has had 19 straight winning seasons, home crowds began dwindling a few years ago and the always vocal alumni clamored for something besides passing drills. Catlett will give them a pro-style running game and multiple defenses plus pattern basketball on occasion. His theories are a m�lange of ideas picked up during stints as an assistant coach to Lefty Driesell at Davidson, to Ted Owens at Kansas and to Adolph Rupp at Kentucky. In an obvious effort to relate to the players on a team that was openly critical of Baker last year, Catlett has retained his predecessor's assistants, none of whom is over 34 years of age.
Following Baker's announcement of his resignation, Cincinnati won 10 of its final 12 games, beating such nationally ranked teams as Florida State, Jacksonville and Southwestern Louisiana. "Once the pressure was off Tay," explains senior Guard Dave Johnson, "he took it off us. He'd come into the locker room, laughing and joking and say, 'Just go out and play.' And that's what we did." Earlier in the season the abrasiveness of young sophomore Lloyd Batts, plus rumors that Batts and Derrek Dickey were talking to the pros, contributed to some lackadaisical performances, especially away from home.
Catlett has everyone back, plus a junior-college transfer, Ron Hightower, who can play forward or guard. Assistant Coach Tony Yates, the floor leader of those NCAA title teams, thinks Hightower will move right into the starting lineup and Catlett agrees. Batts and Dickey averaged 36 points and 20 rebounds a game between them last year, but the Bearcats missed muscle in the middle. There are hopes that sophomore Mike Franklin, who weighs 235, can supply that. With a plethora of big men that includes junior Jesse Jemison, Catlett probably will use a one-guard offense with four wing men, letting either Johnson or junior Dan Murphy run the show.
That takes care of the team, and those mettlesome alumni are taking care of Catlett. One fellow chipped in with a nice deal on a Cadillac, a real-estate man found the coach a $65,000 house and one day in the fall another supporter mowed Catlett's lawn. Obviously, some people think the Bearcats are ready to run.
Cazzie Russell was a legend in the Big Ten. Take Crisler Arena, where the Wolverines have played basketball since 1967. In Ann Arbor it is known as "the house that Cazzie built" even though he played his last college game a year before it was opened. Russell laid the foundation for its construction by leading the Michigan teams of 1964-66 to three consecutive conference titles, something old Yost Fieldhouse had not seen in 16 years. Back then, his baskets produced a sizzling "Cazzie R-r-russell" from the public-address announcer. And now that R-r-russell will sound again, many times over, with a slight variation. It will be "Campy R-r-russell."
Campanella Russell should be every bit as good as his name sounds. A 6'8" forward, he was selected as the outstanding high school player in the country two years ago. He is from nearby Pontiac, where main street is named Wide Track Drive, and that's a pretty good description of Campy's move to the basket when he vrooms past a defender. His presence in the Michigan lineup will, among other positive things, relieve All-America Henry Wilmore from the pressure of all those "...best since Cazzie Russell" headlines, and he will make the Wolverines a more powerful contender than they have been recently with only Wilmore's brilliance to sustain them.