Sooner or later it had to come. Someday the good young athletes of Massachusetts would stop swatting away every stray basketball with their hockey sticks and start shooting a few of them. It's happened. Boston College has often been a basketball power, but now it is one that is substantially homegrown. Three-fourths of the starting forecourt in BC's one-guard, four-forward lineup comes from the Boston area. And 6'10" Bill Collins, 6'6" Wil Morrison and 6'6" Bob Carrington can, as the jargon goes, plaaay. Collins is the team's leading rebounder (nine per game). Morrison, the Eagles' most improved player, helped them finish third in the 1974 NIT by scoring 60 points during the tournament. And Carrington. Ah, Carrington. He is one of the nation's top forwards. Fast enough to handle a quick guard on defense, deft enough to hit long jumpers, powerful enough to charge through traffic and double-pump on the way to the hoop, he averaged 19.4 points per game. But his fans don't call him "Superman." Proper Bostonians never exaggerate. They have nicknamed him "Smooth."
The rest of the key men on the squad are not from The Hub. BC scouts went to Cornwall, N.Y. to find 6'11" sophomore Paul Berwanger, nephew of Jay Berwanger, the first Heisman Trophy winner. The Eagles went well beyond the confines of New England for 6-foot playmaker Mel Weldon. The only starting senior, Weldon left Jersey City to become BC's first junior-college transfer and black captain. And where does that deep BC bench come from? Guard Mike Shirey, Swingman Jeff Bailey and Forward Syd Sheppard hail from out-of-the-way places like Chicago and Philadelphia. But they will play, too. After all, despite its famed provincialism, Boston is the cradle of democracy.
That BC's best players should come from hockey territory is only one of several paradoxes surrounding the Eagles. Coach Bob Zuffelato hopes to have a running team, despite its pro size. And for all his redwoods, he must convince skeptics that graduated Forward Mark Raterink, who averaged 13.9 points and eight rebounds, can be replaced. The Eagles also must rid themselves of a tendency toward lethargy that held their record to 21-9 last year. Zuffelato admits, "A few times we just showed up." BC was 6-3 in games decided by three points or less, but some of them—wins over Harvard and New Hampshire, losses to Holy Cross and Boston University—should have been breathers. This season's schedule is even easier than last year's because most of the tough games—Syracuse, Connecticut and Providence—are at home. That means the Eagles are likely to come into the NCAA tournament as the least regarded 22-4 team in America. Only their fans are likely to rate them as highly as that record would seem to deserve.