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7 SAN FRANCISCO
Willie McCovey is gone: John Brodie is going. Even Mayor Alioto wants out of San Francisco, preferring the governor's mansion in Sacramento. All the old boys seem to be leaving the city by the bay. But it is young boys that concern Bob Gaillard, the bright, mustachioed coach at USF; he needs them to start arriving. The Dons have won two straight WCAC titles almost entirely with players from within a radius of 15 miles of all those bridges. Now, with Jerry Tarkanian bringing his recruiting road show to league-member Las Vegas, Gaillard feels he must go national to keep up. "The City doesn't mean much to high school kids," he says. "If we recruited 25-year-olds, we'd rule the world."
Gaillard does well enough; this year the Dons have their best team since Bill Russell left to shoot hoops for LONG D-I-S-T-A-N-C-E. Of USF's five defeats last year, two were to UCLA on the Bruins' court and two others were by a single basket. Gone from that team are Snake Jones and Mike Quick, whose outside shooting will be hard to replace. But the team does keep smooth Phil Smith, a senior who three years ago walked onto the campus unnoticed and without scholarship and became USF's best backcourt player since K.C. Jones. Smith is sinewy, deadpan, unselfish and still unnoticed—except in the box scores. The UCLA people consider him the best player they faced last year and he may be the first guard drafted by the pros. John Boro returns to play sixth man and shoot against zones, and newcomer Russ Coleman is a pleasant surprise, but Quick's starting spot should go to 6'1" Tony Styles, a blur with the ball out of Iowa Central Community College who will take some pressure off Smith's bony shoulders.
In Kevin Restani and Eric Fernsten the Dons have up front two big men (they're both 6'9") who complement each other perfectly. Restani lacks fire and is slow, but he is an excellent shooter-passer and a threat to score from anywhere. Fernsten does not score but he doesn't let anybody else do it, either. Depth prevails at the other corner Where sophomores Howard Smith and Richard Johnson and multitalented freshman Jeff Randell are competing. Rebounder Smith looked good in preseason, but the 6'5" Johnson is a valuable swing man and Randell also will play a lot.
It is a confident, intelligent, close-knit group that Gaillard has assembled on The Hilltop—probably to play UCLA twice again (in the Bruin Classic and the NCAA regionals). Too bad. Gently flow the Dons, who otherwise might rage through the West.
Everybody knows about Maryland: crab cakes, Spiro and Ball-er-mer Street. Now there is another spicy item. The Maryland basketball team is as tasty as a chef's delight; it can draw raves like a Broadway smash—and at times is as disappointing as bad burlesque.
True the Terps have tweaked opponents for 50 victories, an NIT championship and an NCAA berth in the last two years, but somehow there were greater expectations. This could be the year of fulfillment.
Those super-sophs of a few years back are now superduper seniors. Tom McMillen should become the school's alltime scoring leader sometime this season, and his partner on the front line, Len Elmore, has recovered from a foot injury that crimped the team's style late last year. McMillen has put on weight, Elmore has taken some off, and that means a balanced diet that opponents should have difficulty digesting.
After a freshman debut that was simply sensational, floor leader John Lucas is looking to improve on the Terrapins' finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference. "I think the team will be closer together this year," says Lucas, who spent his summer "playing ball three times a day, morning, noon and night. It's a funny feeling not being on top. I've always been on top all my life."