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Vanderbilt and Tennessee should pressure the Southeastern Conference leaders. Even with four starters back from a 20-6 team, including two-time leading scorer Terry Compton, the Commodores plan to reshuffle. Jan van Breda Kolff, Butch's son and a record assist man as a 6'8" guard, moves to center. When he is healthy, the Volunteers' 7-foot pivot, Len Kosmalski, is the league's best offensively, but he has to struggle to outrebound the team manager. Board help comes from freshmen Mike Jackson and Ernie Grunfield, the latter New York City's top high school player last year. Mississippi and Mississippi State have experienced teams but not a 20-point scorer between them.
When Duke Coach Bucky Waters unexpectedly resigned this fall, the Blue Devils almost lured 77-year-old Adolph Rupp onto the Atlantic Coast Conference battlefield. "I hated to say no," admitted the former Kentucky coach. "It was the greatest tribute ever paid me." Rupp declined when the death of his business partner left his Lexington farm unattended. Neill McGeachy got the job instead, but he picks up Duke's first loser in 35 years. Virginia Forwards Wally Walker and Gus Gerard are standouts, and freshman Bill Longloh steps in for the departed Barry Parkhill. Tates Locke had his best season in three tries at Clem-son, though 12-14 is not much to build a dream on. Seven-footer Wayne (Tree) Rollins will give the Tigers bark if not bite. Wake Forest, respectable in its first season under Carl Tacy, returns Guard Tony Byers with his 22-point average.
Davidson won its seventh straight regular season Southern Conference title last year, but Furman captured its second consecutive championship tournament. The Wildcats, with five returning starters, are still looking for a big man. Bullish Clyde Mayes and tall Fessor Leonard provide the punch for the inconsistent Paladins, who last year won 20 for the first time since 1954. Morehead State and Murray State are the most likely Fly ( Williams) swatters in the Ohio Valley.
In the 35 years of the NCAA championship, only three Eastern teams have won the title. Excluding Villanova—disqualified after a tournament—only six finished second. Slim pickings, yet understandable considering the 56 major colleges in the region, the innumerable small ones and the legion of outside schools that cull the local product. But if all this has a watering-down effect as far as national championships go, it virtually guarantees the dog-eat-dog rivalries of the region. In Philadelphia, for instance. Penn, one of the few places that seem to collect hot prospects in bundles, fully expects to win the Big Five. Temple, La Salle, which won the NCAA 20 years ago, and St. Joseph's fully expect it will not, and one of them could be right.
Temple, which may be the strongest of the three, is playing under a new coach, Don Casey, who already has made two significant moves. He installed the free substitution system that Dean Smith made successful at North Carolina and he eliminated the cigar that his highly successful predecessor, Harry Litwack, always smoked. Otherwise no change. Four starters are back, including 6'10" Joe Newman, and the Owls have the usual whiz newcomer—this one is Wesley Ramseur. They should improve their 17-win record. Joe Bryant, 6'10" but scholastically ineligible as a freshman, makes his long-awaited debut at La Salle. Even without him the Explorers won 15 games. They expect more with Bill Taylor and Joe DiCocco returning and, when he becomes eligible in December, Varick Cutler, a 6'7" transfer from Maryland. St. Joseph's loses 40 points per game through graduation of Mike Bantom and Pat McFarland. Yet Coach Jack McKinney thinks he has a better shooting team than last year when the Hawks finished 22-6. Only at Villanova is there Big Five woe. Jack Kraft left for Rhode Island after a dozen years and his first losing season. Just in time maybe. Rollie Massimino follows him without many prizes—and without Tom Ingelsby.
In the Ivy League, Gerry Alaimo begins a second term in the resurrection of Brown. The Bruins return all five starters, most noteworthy among them 6'5" Forward Phil Brown, the league's top re-bounder and its ninth-highest scorer. Princeton has 6'9" Andy Rimol and sophomore Guard Armond Hill, and Yale welcomes to the varsity last year's 20-1 freshmen. Poor Dartmouth mourns the graduation of James Brown, Cornell digs out the snowblowers and Harvard warms up a new coach, former Boston Celtic Satch Sanders.
Larry Weise has been replaced at St. Bonaventure by 27-year-old Jim Satalin, an ambitious redhead who may gray early. In December the Bonnies play an away game against UCLA. They have 6'9" Glenn Price and rave over 6'6" freshman Forward Essie Hollis. Niagara will open 8,800-seat International Convention Center in Niagara Falls in January with ever-smiling Andy Walker at forward. He is the best Niagara pro prospect since Calvin Murphy. Canisius starts without starters. All from last season had to be replaced. Yet optimism abounds because of 6'5" Forward Larry Fogle who transferred from Southwestern Louisiana where he was the top freshman scorer. With 6'8" Charles Jordan and Mel Montgomery expected to return in January, the Griffins again are favored to win the Little Three.
Lou Carnesecca returns to St. John's to find the Redmen in a power struggle with once-lowly Manhattan and without Mel Davis, who decided to spend his senior year as a pro. While Carnesecca does have a formidable set of guards in Mel Utley and Frank Alagia, he fears 6'7" Ed Searcy may get lonely under the boards. "Other teams have trees," he says. "We have a sapling."
Manhattan returns 6'10" Bill Campion, whose 15.5 rebound average was seventh in the nation. Charlie Mahoney can score around the key, and George Bucci plays as though he means it. Rutgers has a new coach, Tom Young, explosive Forward Phil Sellers, Mike Dabney and 6'10" Les Cason. Not a bad front line, until it is compared with Duquesne's. Coach Red Manning is luxuriating in able bodies. If either 6'10" Murray Meikenhous or 6'9" Ray Milligan comes through at the post, he plans to move All-America candidate Lionel Billingy, ill at ease at center, back to forward. Look for the Iron Dukes when the regular season is complete.