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Gaillard, a man with a gambler's mustache and charmer's smile, had to be a consummate recruiter to be able to attract Boynes and the Dons' other bluechippers. When he took the USF job in 1970, the school's recruiting budget was $1,000, just about equal to his phone bill alone last year. Gaillard is helped by a booster club that sweetened his salary when Long Beach State tried to lure him away a few years ago. "I won't have to worry about meat prices," he said then. Gaillard's relentless schedule confounds even some of his energetic peers. Nevada-Las Vegas Coach Jerry Tarkanian said last year that Gaillard was hurting his 1974-75 team by spending so much time away from home. Tarkanian was after Hardy, too, but Gaillard's estimated 50 visits landed him. And despite their coach's travel, the Dons finished second in the West Coast Athletic Conference.
Gaillard approaches everything that interests him with boundless energy and considerable skill. He took up golf while in college and, by practicing daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., became a scratch player. He went to the semifinal round of the California match-play championship last summer. Now he somehow finds time to spend hours at the San Francisco Racquet Club trying to perfect his tennis backhand. He was a star during his own basketball-playing days at USF, and his single-game high of 41 is still the school record.
Since returning to San Francisco as coach, Gaillard has compiled a 100-43 record and guided the Dons to three NCAA tournaments, where they have twice been beaten by UCLA. His record is among the best in college basketball, yet he can walk through cosmopolitan San Francisco and hardly draw a second glance. His former assistant coach, Phil Stumpo, is a popular Bay Area entertainer. When Gaillard is in the audience, Stumpo introduces him as " John Newcombe" because, says the coach, "People around here don't know me."
His recognition level will improve as his current team matures. Right now, almost every player on the squad believes he should be a starter. "Sometimes I think the coach over-recruits," says Russ Coleman, a first-stringer last year. "There aren't any hard feelings, but the freshmen have replaced three guys, and it's hard to cope with."
Coleman usually comes into games because of lack of leadership among the young starters. Several things happen immediately. First, he nervously sticks out his tongue, then he gets the offense moving. Against Oral Roberts in the opening round of the Cable Car Classic, the pregame handshake was the last display of teamwork by San Francisco's starters and the Dons quickly fell behind 33-20. In stepped Coleman. He scored 16 points and had seven assists and five steals in 26 minutes. USF won by 22.
"We're playing a lot of guys and everybody gets his shot, so there shouldn't be any complaints," says Cartwright. And he's right. All but one player on the traveling squad is averaging at least 10 minutes a game. The lone exception is Guard Sam Williams, a JC transfer and brother of the Golden State Warriors' outstanding rookie, Gus Williams. But when USF began to let down against Niagara, it was Williams who came off the bench in the second half and turned the game around with nine points and four assists.
The excellent performances of the other newcomers have tended to obscure the fact that Cartwright, who came to USF after being the most widely recruited high school center in the country, has been slow to adapt to the college game. Few big men have ever been dominant as freshmen. Of this year's best, Alabama's Leon Douglas was inconsistent in his first season and Indiana's Kent Benson hardly made an impression at all. Cartwright's average of 10.4 points per game and his .510 shooting percentage are not bad, but he has experienced myriad troubles. First, he was overweight, then his back bothered him and finally his knees ached. Now Cartwright's biggest problem is that he gets knocked around, even in practice, when senior Howard Smith, chagrined over the loss of his starting position, muscles him. "Billy doesn't understand that Howard can elbow him in the mouth and not mean anything by it," says Gaillard. Says Cartwright, "Howard's a competitor, but sometimes you feel like murdering him."
Gaillard almost jumped up and cheered when Cartwright elbowed an opponent to the floor in one of the Hawaii games. "Bill looks young, but I've never seen him intimidated," he says. "They can knock him down but they can't scare him. And it's nice that we've got Smith and Hardy around to pick him up. The other guys have to look at them, too."
One glance at Hardy should be enough to scare anyone thinking of roughing up Cartwright. The San Francisco newspapers run pictures of him that would be more appropriate on post-office bulletin boards. When Gaillard recruited Hardy, some people called the dour-appearing youth "a program wrecker." Actually, he is soft-spoken and diligent, and even has a sense of humor. He gave himself the nickname "Trouble" and painted it on the sides of his $8,000 souped-up van. He leads the team in rebounding (11 per game) and blocked shots and is shooting 87% from the free-throw line.
"Some people think the crew-cut kid automatically tries harder," says Gaillard. "They look at our guys wearing their hair in braids and ask, 'Any problems?' Everybody says that we must have dissension, that there is no way I can keep everybody happy. Well, they're right. I can't keep them happy. They have to keep me happy." Perhaps that is why Guard Marlon Redmond recently gave Gaillard the all-league award he won last year. Redmond is the only returnee in the starting lineup.