The other reason for keeping White in the backcourt is Forward Ray Murry, a JC transfer who eats his spinach and often his opponent's lunch. Murry is only 6'5", but he weighs 225, most of it sinew. "Some people think I should be playing football," he says. Edwards probably will solve the dilemma by swinging White between guard and forward and alternating the two others, pulling Ransom into the pits for a fresh supply of chips while Murry blocks and tackles. Another starter will be 6'8" Carl Bird, a consistent 12.7-point, 4.9-rebound performer.
Because of the school's reputation for activism, Edwards felt some trepidation when he arrived at Berkeley three years ago. But things have changed. Cal may bomb some people this year, but the victims won't be bankers.
Since the Auburn press guide does not bother to report that Coach Bob Davis' doctorate is in education, the logical assumption is that his Ph.D. is in comedy & torture. While coaching at Georgetown (Ky.) College, Davis once got so angry at his players during a game that he left the bench, went up in the stands and sat down to read a newspaper. Another defeat so enraged him that he locked his team in the dressing room all night.
Wherever he has coached, Davis' players have been provoked by his needling, his cynicism, and by jokes laced with razor blades. Yet Davis' style has served him well. By the time he was 45 years old, he had won 452 games coaching in small-college competition. When he inherited a 6-20 team at Auburn two years ago, Davis was expected to improve the situation. The only question was whether any Tiger players would live to tell how he did it.
After they were shelled 93-65 at Mississippi early in the 1973-74 season, Davis let his Tigers out of the dressing room—not for the trip back to Alabama, but for a two-hour late-night practice.
At home, Davis pushed his players through three-a-day drills, but matters did not improve. Finally, during a 96-51 thrashing at Vanderbilt, Davis turned to his assistant coach, John Lykins, and screamed, "Why don't you go out and get me some players I can win with!" Lykins was so startled that he immediately got up from the bench, left the gym and was not heard from for 16 days.
That first team of Davis' was not as bad as all this sounds. It beat Kentucky 99-97 late in the season and finished 10-16. Guard Eddie Johnson topped the SEC with 22.3 points per game as a freshman, and classmate Pepto Bolden led the conference in rebounding. Bolden scored 27 points in the first game last year to launch an 18-8 season. It is an index of the Tigers' growing strength that Bolden will not start this year.
Gary Redding, a reliable 6'6" senior, mans one forward position. Opposite him will be Mike Mitchell, a rugged 6'8", 215-pound sophomore who likes to sew. Mitchell is one of those players that Lykins was chased out to recruit, and he starred in last year's 90-85 defeat of NCAA runner-up Kentucky with 31 points and 15 rebounds. Another of Lykins' prize catches is Center Myles Patrick, who may have improved his shooting enough to hold back 6'8" Cedrick Hordges. Hordges is a cocky freshman who thinks he can do anything on a basketball floor, and he may very well be right. Guard Stan Pietkiewicz is an accurate shooter if allowed to stand and aim. Finally, there is Johnson, who remains one of the finest unheralded players in recent memory. He averaged 20.9 last year, was fourth in the nation in free-throw shooting (.879) and is quicker than a flick of your Bic.
The key to Auburn's season lies in the Tigers' ability to play as a team. They committed 36 turnovers in one game last year and sometimes reverted to an uncontrolled offense. But they have two powerful incentives for getting together. One is the possibility of an SEC championship. Another is avoiding the merry ministrations of Dr. Davis.