But even with all this talent around him, it is Cartwright who will be in the spotlight. The ball will be his when the competition is the toughest; last season he hit 23 points against North Carolina and 27 in the Dons' loss to Cal State-Fullerton in the NCAAs.
Belluomini is a native San Franciscan who played at USF in the mid-'60s. After coaching high school and junior college teams, he worked as a Gaillard assistant for six seasons. He is following in quite a tradition, because under such distinguished coaches as Pete Newell, Phil Woolpert, Pete Peletta and Gaillard, USF has won two NCAA, one NIT and 12 league titles. That's not bad for a school once known as the St. Ignatius College Gray Fog.
Had Boynes and Hardy stayed around, Belluomini's first team would have been a contender for USF's third NCAA title. Without them, he will probably have to settle for the WCAC crown and an early-round loss in the NCAAs.
Kansas basketball tradition is a familiar story. Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith and Wilt Chamberlain played there. James Naismith and Phog Allen coached there. The Jayhawks have won more games than any college team except Kentucky. But there is a less appreciated tradition behind the tradition—the ritual of unrealistic-expectations. Kansas is never supposed to lose, yet the Jayhawks have had three seasons of .500 or below in the past 10. Another rash of unreasonable forecasts is burdening this year's team, which has lost six veterans, including three starters, from the 1977-78 club that went 24-5. Nonetheless, one poll has Kansas second in the nation.
That is expecting too much. For the Jayhawks to finish that high. 255-pound Center Paul (Big Mo) Mokeski will have to rampage like the Incredible Hulk. He has come close on occasion. In last season's NCAA regionals, the 7'1" Mokeski outperformed UCLA All-America David Greenwood, 18 points to 14 and 12 rebounds to 10. Unfortunately, Mokeski fouled out of that game and seven others and averaged just 23.3 minutes a start. At times this season his floormates will be four guards. Under these conditions, leading Kansas to the No. 2 spot would be a tall order, even for Mokeski. "Two things are important; that Paul get himself in terrific shape and stay out of foul trouble," says Coach Ted Owens. Mokeski wants to do more. "I'm going to have to rebound better and take over the scoring," he says. His frontcourt partners, Johnny Crawford, who averaged only 1.6 points a game last season before being declared scholastically ineligible, and Booty Neal, a 2.6 scorer, will do their best to lighten Mokeski's load. But their best is certainly going to have to improve.
Kansas is stronger at guard. Darnell Valentine, a sophomore, led the Big Eight in steals and assists as a freshman while scoring a team-high 13.5 points per game. Wilmore (Little Mo) Fowler completes a formidable starting backcourt. Owens calls Fowler a "potential 55% shooter"; now that Little Mo has learned to pull up before taking his jumpers, he could hit his potential.
But matching last year's record may depend mostly on freshmen. Fortunately Kansas has three of the nation's best in Tony Guy, a 51% shooter in high school; Forward David Magley, Indiana's Mr. Basketball last season; and 6'10" Mark Snow, who broke Bill Walton's shot-blocking record at Helix High in La Mesa, Calif. Only Guy is likely to help immediately. On occasion, Owens may even decide to use Valentine, Fowler, Guy and senior Brad Sanders at once, giving the Jayhawks a four-guard lineup.
With its fast-break offense and pressure defense, Kansas will be as entertaining as ever, but success may turn more on how well the Jayhawks rebound off the defensive board. They will be tested early and often, with road games at Kentucky, Southern California, San Diego State and Michigan State. "A 20-6 record is the least we need for an at-large bid to the NCAAs," Owens said at a preseason team meeting. More likely, the Jayhawks will get an automatic bid by repeating as Big Eight champions. That is not too much to expect.