And there's the rub. Last year the Bearcats lost six games to teams they might have beaten; each time they were dismantled. The season ended in a bizarre 78-77 loss to Notre Dame. Cincinnati led by one and had the ball out of bounds with five seconds showing on the clock but lost the ball on a stalling violation and the game on a tip-in at the buzzer. "Sometimes when you have so much talent," says Yoder, "it's easy for guys to try to do it themselves and not to blend their talents with others." Accordingly, the players speak of their 1976-77 goals in communal terms: tight defense, fast-breaking, aggressiveness. But that takes individual leadership, and last year's tri-captains, Mike Artis, Hal Ward and Garry Kamstra, all inspirational coming off the bench, have graduated. Just to survive the tough Metro Seven ( Florida State is the new entry), Cincinnati must get more floor generalship from Yoder, better shooting from Williams and even more yeoman service from Miller.
The talent's there, especially with the arrival of freshmen Eddie Lee and Greg Johnson. Lee, a 6'4" guard, is blissfully ignorant of Cincy failures past. "People know all about us in Queens," says the New Yorker. "They know we're coming to Madison Square Garden to play Rutgers and they know we're a power. I think we can do it." Cincinnatian Johnson, a 6'6" forward, was contacted by 380 schools but chose to stay close to home. "My grandparents raised me," he says. "They gave me 15 years of their fives. I can give them four."
A soloist in the choir of a Baptist congregation, Johnson felt right at home when Catlett opened the first practice with a prayer. But this team has all the God-given ability in the world. The Bearcats must do the rest themselves.
"This year the ball goes to Bo," says Warrior Coach Al McGuire. "That's my whole recruiting philosophy. We decide who gets to star."
"I've paid my dues," says Bo. "I'll continue to get my four or five assists and 14 or 15 rebounds, but I'm not going to pass up as many shots as I did last year."
The designated star is Maurice (Bo) Ellis, a 6'9" forward who is the first four-year starter in modern Marquette history. Last year, when the team had its 10th consecutive 20-win season (27-2, to be specific), Ellis played a supporting role behind seniors Earl Tatum and Lloyd Walton, who have moved on to the pros. Now it is Bo's turn to put on the late rush for points, publicity and a fat pro contract.
Ellis led the team in rebounds as a junior and he has plenty of help on the boards. Center Jerome Whitehead, a 6'10" junior with a set of weight-lifters' shoulders, "will dominate most people he faces this year," says McGuire, "and he'll hold his own with the super centers." At the other forward is 6'9" sophomore Bernard Toone. As a freshman he led the team in field goal accuracy. When any of those three needs a breather—and they surely will during a schedule that includes nine games vs. 1976 tournament teams—in will come Ulice Payne, a transfer from Ohio U.; honor student Bill Neary, a walk-on who didn't even start in high school; or the designated star of 1979, freshman Robert Byrd, who can soar like his surname.
Senior star system or not, Marquette's act could be called the Butch and Bo Show. Guard Alfred (Butch) Lee was the Warriors' second-leading scorer as a sophomore, then started for the Puerto Rican Olympic team at Montreal and scored 35 points in a one-point loss to the U.S. (He was born in Puerto Rico but spent only three days of his infancy there.) A fight is on for the other guard spot, which could go to either Jim Boylan, a two-year starter at Assumption before transferring, or hometown favorite Gary Rosenberger, a fine outside shooter.
The talent goes deeper still, with Craig Butrym, a seven-foot backup center, and Jim Dudley, a 6'6" transfer from Michigan State ( Marquette leads the NCAA in transfers). However, perhaps the most important backup man will be Assistant Coach Hank Raymonds, one of the best Xs and Os men around. Raymonds is doubly important because the hot-tempered McGuire, who hurt his team by getting called for technical fouls in the last NCAA Mideast Regional championship tournament, has vowed to send Bo and company without him this time. That means Raymonds would be in charge. However, McGuire is already hedging on his vow.