Houston, another strong independent, has Louis Dunbar back—all 6'9" of him—and he could play guard, where he averaged 21 points. Freshman Otis Bird-song sounds as if he should be with the Supremes, but he plays the backcourt well enough to probably move Dunbar to forward. Pan American is rebuilding under humorist-Coach Abe Lemons, who will have some tall tales to relate. Another Texas outfit, UTEP, will contest Arizona, New Mexico and Utah for Arizona State's Western Athletic Conference title. Coach Don Haskins has Gus Bailey, who could play for anybody, and two-year starter Beto Bautista, who can run the offense in his sleep. And, if he recovers from a knee injury, James Forbes, another former Olympian.
New Mexico's Bernard Hardin is the equivalent of UTEP's Bailey and he plays for a coach, Norm Ellenberger, who has a way with young men, witness his 21-6 team of unknowns last season. Utah Coach Bill Foster expects improvement now that Mike Sojourner and Luther (Ticky) Burden have acquired experience. And Arizona State has the height in Ron Kennedy, Mark Wasley and Scott Lloyd to chase after its own WAC title.
Stanford, with 7-foot Center Rich Kelley, gave UCLA trouble last year and could be the surprise team of the Pac Eight. Washington Coach Marv Harsh-man grew his hair longer and added a mustache. He is still a good coach, but that never seems to be enough. San Francisco and Nevada-Las Vegas do not have a monopoly on all the good players in the West Coast Athletic Conference. Lloyd McMillian (brother of Buffalo pro Jim) and Luther Philyaw are at Loyola, Pete Padgett at Nevada-Reno, Frank Oleynick at Seattle and the alleged Super Six at St. Mary's.
Southern Methodist was a disappointing fifth in the Southwest Conference mostly because Ira Terrell, Sammy Hervey and Zack Thiel could not get their act together any more than could their feuding coaches. Coach Bob Prewitt says things have settled down. "We have a very positive attitude. Last year is forgotten." Amen to that and hello to tomorrow. If Larry Robinson is healthy, he and Harry Larrabee could make Texas a contender. Weber State does not always win the Big Sky title, but it has taken six straight and eight in a decade, and Coach Gene Visscher is ready again. Denver, with four starters returning, possibly will make a postseason tournament, and defense-minded Air Force could have its finest team in Academy history.