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Five to Watch
It is hard to imagine that anything among the Colorado Rockies could come up short, but that is what has happened to the University of Colorado Buffaloes, who are tall in every way except height. With a few more inches here and there they might have made the top 20. Still, they will be very much worth watching. not necessarily because they will finish in the next five—they likely will not—but because, like Louisiana State, Purdue, Boston College and Oregon, they are an interesting team that has not been heard from much recently but will be soon. What the Buffaloes have instead of height is Lee (Harpo) Haven, whose blond locks will be reflecting the dim light of the CU field house as he leads a fast break. Haven is one of the scrappy players who helped unflappable Sox Walseth become the Big Eight's 1972-73 Coach of the Year by hanging up a 9-5 league record. Junior-college transfer Tony Lawrence and Scott Wedman, a 6'7" senior and one of the country's better defenders, can both score in Walseth's patterned offense.
Another Coach of the Year was Louisiana State's Dale Brown. Late-season SEC wins over Alabama and Tennessee led the Tigers to a 9-9 league and 14-10 overall record and helped Kentucky (ho-hum) take the conference title again. In his second year Brown has a solid nucleus in a backcourt of Mike Darnall and Eddie Palubinskas and an interchangeable frontcourt of Collis Temple, Wade Evans, Randy Herring, Ed LeBlanc and John Engquist. Temple developed into a surprisingly accurate shooter last season after he was advised to soak his hands in hot water before games and during half-time. The best of five promising newcomers is Glenn (Hondo) Hansen, a transfer from Utah State who can play every position but center. Dennis Wolff, a superb passer, provides depth in the backcourt. Brown, called " Billy Graham in Sneakers" by the local press, has a reputation for getting maximum performance from his players. In a well-balanced league, maximum might be just enough.
Purdue, mother of astronauts, NFL quarterbacks and Heisman Trophy losers, has been missing its share of hot-shots lately, and no one is more concerned about this post- Rick Mount state of affairs than second-year Coach Fred Schaus. So far he is coming in third to those other state rivals. Digger Phelps at South Bend and Bobby Knight at Indiana, which is not particularly pleasant for a man who had become accustomed to better things as coach and, most recently, general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. Still, Schaus managed a 15-9 record in his first Purdue season—mainly because he instituted the same UCLA track conditioning program that Bill Sharman used to transform the Lakers into an NBA champion—and his Boilermakers could improve with John Garrett and Frank Kendrick scoring and Bruce Parkinson directing matters. Now if Schaus can come up with some supers, he should not mind those season-ending games at Indiana so much.
Mel Weldon of Boston College thought "the whole world was coming at me" when he was playing for the U.S. at the World University Games this summer. Turned out it was only the Cuban team. Life will be slightly less precarious this winter as Weldon tries to make the Eagles highflyers again. A Tiny Archibald-style guard from Jersey City via junior college, Weldon will be abetted by some fine homebreds, among them Bob Carrington, Wilfred Morrison and Bill Collins, and Syd Sheppard from Pennsylvania. Coach Bob Zuffelato expects to use a free-lancing offense featuring a point guard and four mobile forwards and to substitute freely enough with Team Captain Dan Kilcullen, Jere Nolan and Mark Raterink to wear down opponents. Weldon eventually wants to enter social work so he can "help the people." Boston College is his first case.
Ron Lee, the son of a Boston motorcycle patrolman is one local product that BC let get away—all the way to Oregon. He averaged 19 points a game last season and became the first freshman ever named to the All-Pac Eight first team, but he is not all Coach Dick Harter is relying on to do something about the UCLAs, USCs and Stanfords his Ducks have to face. A promotional picture that shows all five Oregon players in a pileup for a loose ball is what Harter has in mind, the Kamikaze defense that worked well for him at Pennsylvania. Harter says, "We'll be clean but tough." Two of his toughies are Steve Manker, a 7-foot center from Des Moines, and former Pennsylvania high school star Stu Jackson, but it is Lee, whose brother Russell plays for the NBA Bucks, that Harter counts on most. Among other things, Lee does sleight-of-hand card tricks in his spare time. Now, if he can make UCLA disappear....
Independence remains a respected calling in this region where such loners and non-joiners as South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Jacksonville continue to send out teams that, respectively, have had five straight 20-win seasons, an NIT championship and, in the cases of the Seminoles and Dolphins, berths in two of the last four NCAA finals.
Jacksonville has its usual plethora of height and might, most of it experienced, but the Dolphins could have trouble adjusting to the unfamiliar personality and methods of Bob Gottlieb, their third coach in five years. "I may be guilty of doing too much too soon," the former Kansas State assistant admits. Flashy Henry Williams and menacing Butch Taylor are two of the four starters back from last year's 21-6 team.
Transfers and dropouts have left Florida State's Hugh Durham with a young group-but without the dissension that helped create an 18-8 disappointment last year. Defending NIT titlist Virginia Tech, a late-blooming 22-5 surprise in 1973, returns nine of its first 10, though the absentee, leading scorer Allan Bristow, may be irreplaceable. South Carolina lost both its rebounder and its point producer, but skinny Alexander English and Brian Winters provide more than a little of both. Centenary's super big man, Robert Parish, would have ranked high nationally in both scoring and rebounding with 23.0 and 18.7 averages last year if the NCAA recognized the Gents as, well, gentlemen. But the NCAA does not and will not until the Louisiana school repents for a long list of rule infractions. Georgia Tech and Tulane are in better social standing, though new Coaches Duane Morrison and Charles Moir, both up from the smalls, would prefer improvement to popularity. Four returning starters buoy optimism at George Washington, whose 17-9 record last year was the school's best in 17 years.