The Warriors are small, young, inexperienced and not very deep. The only senior starter, Guard Marcus Washington, is a poor shooter from anywhere on the court. But he offers the mature leadership the team needs. "There were jealousies last year," he says. "This year there won't be so much hassle."
It is difficult to presume who would hassle 6'9" Maurice Lucas, whose 11 rebounds and 15 points per game credentials are the team's best. When last observed, Maurice was pitching quarters on the gym floor, clad only in nylon briefs. Lucas needs the sartorial advice that freshman Bo Ellis can offer. Skinny Bo is interested in fashion design. Better, he can score. Earl Tatum, who played little as a 6'5" guard, switches to forward.
The real guards are Washington and Lloyd Walton, who sat out last year after transferring from Moberly JC and signing, for a while at least, at Jacksonville. Walton (doesn't everybody have one?) wants to break Dean Meminger's three-year assist record in two years. Somebody tell Lloyd that Allie McGuire holds the Marquette assist record.
And somebody else tell America that a coach and a team that are 25% serious have, the last five years, won 88% of their games and played the nation's third best defense. All of this with Al McGuire in self-described "retirement" and without chalk drills, films or very much offense. Somebody's conning somebody, right, Al?
It may never reach the popularity of some of those dances they do on American Bandstand, but Dick Clark—a Syracuse graduate—should pay heed to this one. When the Gorilla catches on, historians will record that it started at Manley Field House on the Syracuse University campus and its founder was neither Hank Ballard nor Chubby Checker. Dennis (Sweet D) DuVal does the Gorilla, and all his teammates just die to copy his moves.
Coach Roy Danforth lines up his basketball team, each man at arm's length, and sends DuVal to the front. Sweet D slides. The team slides. Sweet D glides. The team glides. He moves his hands. They do, too. He walks, he talks, he crawls on his belly. Ditto the team. It is all a reaction drill the Orangemen have developed to keep themselves just a fraction quicker than their opponents, and it and some very good players helped them post a 24-5 record last season, the most wins ever by a Syracuse team.
Three starters—DuVal, Rudy Hackett and Bob Dooms—return from a team that finished 14th in both wire-service polls. Jim Lee, the sixth man, gains a starting position in the backcourt with DuVal, who moves more like his idol Dave Bing the longer he plays at Syracuse. DuVal scored at a 19.5 rate and totaled 113 assists last season. Lee, who appeared in every game, shot 44% as a sophomore and complements DuVal's spectacular moves with his consistency.
Hackett, at 6'8" the tallest man on the squad, plays forward, while Dooms, 6'5", is the center. It all seems kind of small by modern standards, but DuVal says, "I guess on paper you could say that, but what counts is what takes place on the court." He means, of course, that the team has its share of leapers. Dooms is a steady rebounder; he does not give away his position. Hackett rebounds, too (10 a game in 1972-73), and he has added 20 pounds, mostly in the shoulders, to the 190 he carried last year.
The Orange had counted on Fred Saunders, a 6'7" transfer from Southwestern Louisiana who enrolled at Syracuse this fall, to provide them with even more strength under the boards, but NCAA detectives put a hold on that action. Too bad, but not fatal. The schedule is not overly tough and there is plenty of additional help to come from the likes of Tom Stundis, Steve Shaw and Scott Stapleton, all of whom played last season, sophomore Mark Meadors, who did not, and Chris Sease, a non-predictor. The Orangemen will have them dancing in the aisles at Syracuse whether it's the Gorilla or not.