Center Mike Franklin was the only significant graduation loss. With the addition of 6'5" Brian Williams and a topflight junior college transfer, 6'4" Gary Yoder, Cincinnati should improve its record despite a tougher schedule.
Coach Gale Catlett's major concern is his team's tendency to lapse into helter-skelter defense. Having coached under Ted Owens, Lefty Driesell and Adolph Rupp, roomed with Rod Thorn and teamed with Jerry West, Catlett, 59-23 after three seasons, understandably has high standards. "The No. 1 thing is getting the good players," he says. "Our alumni have been great, and one of our best recruiters has been Pete Rose. He listens to every game on the radio."
"If they want me to speak to a kid, I will," says Rose. "I do it for the football coach, too. I didn't go to the university, but this is my city."
Rose has helped Cincinnati pull in a bundle of high school All-Americas. "We had five last year," says Jones, "and that was our big problem early in the season. It's not a question of having no differences—you always do. You have to learn to get along with each other despite them." A 17-game trip to Australia this summer helped the Bearcats do just that. Uniting in the face of haphazard scheduling and officiating, they were unbeaten Down Under.
Catlett came home from Australia with a working definition of bearcat. "I wanted to call us the Fighting Bearcats," he says. "When I got to Australia, I conducted a survey and found that the. bearcat is a lazy animal that sleeps all day. It was a great disappointment."
It is unlikely that he'll be disappointed in the Cincinnati breed of cat.
Maybe in the old days summer was the time when a basketball player went home to eat mama's cooking and take his high school sweetheart to the drive-in. But now the sport is a year-round affair. Consider Alabama's 6'9" Center Leon Douglas, a member of the U.S. International Cup and Pan-Am teams this past off-season. At one point he played ball on 42 consecutive days.
Douglas was used often at forward while on tour, and that sharpened his already fine shooting eye. The traveling shaved 20 pounds from his frame, and that has made him a good deal quicker. All of which is very welcome news for 'Bama fans, because Douglas must have an especially good senior year if the Crimson Tide is finally to break the pattern of near-misses that has marred its recent seasons.
Alabama has won 22 games in each of Douglas' previous three years, and Douglas has averaged 16 points and 11.2 rebounds. But the team has had little to show for these efforts. 'Bama is yet to win an SEC championship outright and suffered a 97-94 defeat by Arizona State in the NCAA tournament last year.