Coach Beryl (the Peryl) Shipley, Bo Pete Lamar and all the rest have even kept in good humor while being subjected to all kinds of innuendo, insults and "Hey, Big Spender" tunes from opposition bands. "I was supposed to have received $100 after a game we played and Roy Ebron $450," jokes Lamar. "Now, man, that sounds kind of backwards, doesn't it?"
During recent months Lamar has become a proud father and a complete player; the formerly morose Ebron—whose white headband makes him look like someone the MASH people lost hold of—has stopped loafing; and freshman Larry Fogle has quelled his tempestuous personality enough to help considerably. No fewer than eight Cajuns could have a future in the pros, and when this team is zooming and unworried by what it considers biased referees, it is nearly impossible to contain.
Kansas State, whose Jack Hartman bemoans the worthlessness of his Tartan floor, the lack of media attention for his team and hot water in its showers, will get first crack at USL. His Wildcats have strong Steve Mitchell and Larry Williams up front, feisty Lon Kruger in backcourt and a fine sense of discipline and coaching. They are the soundest team in the regional, but they are used to playing with that old 30-second clock on the Big Eight wall. The quicksilver Cajuns should easily beat the K-State zone down the floor, and when they do not Lamar will fire his grenades. The Wildcats should learn quickly enough that Bo Pete can get off a lot of grenades in 30 seconds.
In the other half of the draw the Happiness Boys of Memphis State will meet South Carolina's Kiddie Korps. Though Frank McGuire talks a lot about freshmen Alex English and Mike Dunleavy, the Gamecocks continue to play their awful "passive" zone and they have to rely too much on smooth senior Kevin Joyce to carry them.
The man with Ulster in his eyes will not be enough against the hungry Tigers from Memphis, whose Larry Kenon should have a field day inside against South Carolina's 7-footer, Danny Traylor. If there must be a dark horse, Coach Gene Bartow's Memphis team is a good choice. Besides having rebounders Kenon and Ronnie Robinson, who can go get the ball with anybody, and Larry Finch, who smiles all the time he is killing an opponent softly, the Tigers may-bring along their Shaft fan, Isaac Hayes, to do his number.
Still, Memphis State is not a tournament-tested club and its lack of quickness will be a major factor against a foe like Southwestern Louisiana. It is obvious now that the Cajuns have become almost passionately motivated by their indictments and they are primed to un-limber on anyone who gets in the way. This tournament may be USL's last before banishment ("It's a shame they're in," says the NCAA's Tom Scott. "I hope they get beat quick"), and the Cajuns want it to be memorable.
The surprise of the year in the Mideast is the appearance of Austin Peay ("didn't he play opposite Nita Naldi in The Loves of Satan?). In reality, Austin Peay is that wild team that came from last to first in the Ohio Valley and did it under a Lake and through a Fly. Coach Lake Kelly and freshman James (Fly) Williams qualified last week when the Governors made enough of the 53 shots they cast off in the first half against Jacksonville to hang on at the end so Fly could score the winning basket in a 77-75 victory.
"I hadda pop the top," said Fly.
It has been a storybook season for high-scoring Williams, who because of his nickname has had to withstand fly-swatters, flypaper and at least one baiter dressed as a can of Raid. But it isn't over yet. Sheer, raw speed will stand the Governors in good stead Thursday in Nashville against a Kentucky team that has never been accused of setting sprint records.
The Wildcats, appearing in their 21st NCAA tournament (a record), have had quite a fairy tale of their own going this March. At one point they were 3-3 and being booed at home. Worse, they were being ignored by everyone except Adolph Rupp, whose slings and arrows kept zinging into the back of first-year Coach Joe Hall.