"EASY COME EASY GO"
(COACH: GUY V. LEWIS)
Perry Russell must feel like a door prize. Houston swarmed all over Marian Christian High to recruit Tito Horford, and eventually the Cougars' improprieties allowed that 7'1" meal ticket to get away. But somewhere between illegal visits and free rides, the Cougars wound up with Russell, Horford's Marian cohort. Now, the 6'10", 240-pound freshman, while hardly rivaling Horford as a center of contention, is suddenly Houston's center, period. Nobody's expecting miracles, but if Russell, one of seven newcomers, can develop quickly enough, Houston will have a decent, completely rebuilt front line: Greg (Cadillac) Anderson, last season's center (15.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.4 blocks per game), will move to power forward, and 6'8" forward Rickie Winslow will step outside. This added strength inside will help on the boards—Houston outrebounded its opponents just eight times last season.
Running the offense will be 6'2" Alvin Franklin (16.9 points, 4.7 assists per game), a veteran of two Final Fours. His imposing build gives him a superb blend of power and quickness. In his three seasons, Franklin has been called on to penetrate and pass off, shoot to bust zones and spearhead the fast break. "I'm going to have to do everything this year—rebound, too," he says. "With Rick, Cadillac and myself back, we can almost dominate."
The Cougars say they came together during an August barnstorming tour of China, where they beat the national teams by an average of 25 points. They also improved their hand-eye coordination. "You had to be quick," says Winslow, new president of Phi Slamma Jamma. "The food had legs."