The Louie and Bouie Show. A clean-shaven Headd. A kid with a bullet hole in his face. Yes indeed, folks, say hello to Syracuse, the all-around marvel of NCAA basketball, a team that always wins 20, never loses at home and usually goes blooey at the first whiff of a postseason tournament. That's the Orangemen. And now once again they are holding forth in their home in central New York State, plundering the Villanovas, Penn States, Temples and all the other paladins of Eastern basketball. So what else is new? Only that this time they've been doing their thing in ways they've never done before. For instance:
•Zooming to 14-0 by mid-January, their best start in 54 seasons.
•Proving they were no fluke when they dumped Purdue, then 10th-ranked, and its terrific All-America Center Joe Barry Carroll in West Lafayette, Ind. on national TV, by pressing the Boilermakers silly in a 66-61 upset in game No. 14.
•Whipping 10 straight opponents at Manley Field House to extend their home-win streak to a national-high 55 games. In fact, most opponents have been crushed. At week's end Syracuse's average victory margin was 17.1 points, second highest in the nation. At home it was even greater. So far LeMoyne has gone under by 46 points, Cornell by 41, St. Francis of Pennsylvania by 33 and Canisius by 32.
•And hanging tough throughout their lone defeat, at Old Dominion. First, Syracuse seemed to be cruising home; it led by 13 points with only 4:43 to play. Then, after Old Dominion surged ahead by three points with :49 left, the Orangemen exploded and regained the lead. Finally, they lost 68-67—on a Monarch basket that was or was not tipped in before the buzzer. If the game had been played at Manley, it would have been after and thank you very much.
Let's have Jim Satalin, coach of archrival St. Bonaventure, put Syracuse in perspective. In 1976-77, when the Louie and Bouie Show opened, Jim Boeheim was a rookie coach and Syracuse won 26 of 30 games. Next season it went 22-6. Last year the Orangemen were 26-4 again, and—for a delicious bit of trivia—Boeheim had suddenly become the college basketball coach with the best won-lost percentage (.861). "And all that happened while they were building for this year," Satalin says, "I've seen DePaul, Notre Dame and Ohio State, and the best team in the country is Syracuse."
He may be right. Following a surprisingly easy 89-69 victory at Providence last Saturday, the Orangemen, who had been ranked as high as No. 3 in the polls, were 19-1. Coupled with No. 2-ranked Oregon State's setback at UCLA plus the defeats of Big Ten leader Ohio State by Michigan State and Wisconsin, Syracuse seemed ready to soar to new prominence in this week's AP and UPI wire-service polls: up to second in both, another milestone for the Orange. And unless twice-beaten St. John's somehow ends its three-year losing streak to the Orangemen in New York on Feb. 16, or unless the sky falls and the rivers run dry, Syracuse will finish the season at 25-1 and go from there to walk with the giants of basketball—Eastern and otherwise.
The two main reasons for all this success are Louie and Bouie. Louie is senior Louis Orr, a 6'8", 155-pound wisp of a recruit out of Cincinnati who has developed into a 6'8", 190-pound defensive wizard and Syracuse's No. 2 scorer and rebounder. Though a lethal 57.8% shooter, Orr, a forward, is best known as a sort of on-court impresario, a rapier, a darting menace who often produces the teeny pass, unlooked-for steal or swift tip-in that turns a tight game around. By comparison, Center Roosevelt Bouie is a bludgeon, and has been ever since he ambled down the road from Kendall High near Rochester, N.Y. with his 6'11", 240-pound frame and amazing grace to be Syracuse's "first quality big man."
Off the court Bouie is a placid fellow who fishes, grows houseplants and likes to drop in on children's dance recitals at a local elementary school. Boeheim says Bouie rarely knows who Syracuse's next opponent is. "If Rosey had just average ability, basketball would never have entered his life," says Orr. "He'd be happy as the world's tallest petunia grower."
But Bouie's ability is far better than average. As a shooter, he was limited at first but he kept improving. From scoring 10.9 points and 10.5 points a game as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, Bouie hit 15.2 last season and is averaging 17.8 now. Two weeks ago he rung up a career-high 29 points against Connecticut and topped it in his next game, a 30-point outing against Temple. In three of his last four games, Bouie has scored more than 25. "I'd been doing things too fast," he says. "Now I'm thinking through my options."