Particularly Encouraging to Daly in the Varese game were the performances of big man Henry Johnson, playmaker Mark Lonetto and high-scoring Keven McDonald. Clearly, Daly had cause for optimism.
Sad to say, Daly never found out how good his team might have been, for on the day of the first game of the 1975 season the 6'11" Johnson came down with appendicitis. Then he suffered complications, his weight fell from 215 pounds to 178 and he missed the entire season.
Without Johnson, the Quakers were 17-9 and second in the Ivy League. Now Johnson is healthy, his weight is back to 215 and he is honing his reflexes and his close-in shots. Johnson is not a dominant center (he averaged 10.8 points and seven rebounds as a junior), but he can be intimidating on defense and productive on offense. Back, too, are Lonetto (an 11-point scorer) and McDonald, who was the ECAC Rookie of the Year last season, averaging 18.9 points and 7.4 rebounds.
Freshmen are not permitted to play varsity ball in the Ivy League, but the shifty-nifty newcomers who were 17-1 for Penn last year are now eager sophomores who will help the Quakers feel their oats. Most prominent among them may be 6'1" Guard Bob Willis.
"He's got me excited," says Daly when speaking of Willis, who averaged 12.7 points per game as a freshman. Willis is an exceptional leaper who can dunk the ball backward. What really excites Daly, though, is that Willis "runs the fast break better than anyone since I've been here."
Other sophomores who give Daly a few tingles are Tony Price (21.3 points, 10.8 rebounds), rugged 6'8", 215-pound Matt White (10.1 points, 8.4 rebounds), Tim Smith, Ed Kuhl and James Brown, a 6'2" guard who has run the 100 in 9.2. "I can't hide it," Daly exults. "We've got talent. What I like about coaching is that it's not an everyday boring existence." But then Daly must have known that back in the ninth grade.