"Loaded?" quips a Rutgers assistant. "Sure, we start off every morning with Irish coffee." Around the Eastern Eight no one else is smiling. When Kelvin Troy, a defensive ace who scored 18.9 points and had 8.3 rebounds per game in 1979-80, teams with 6'7" former Kentucky Wildcat Clarence Tillman, who'll be eligible Dec. 20, Rutgers may do more than just stagger to the league title. Syracuse gets back the made-for-each-other backcourt of Eddie (D) Moss and Marty (O) Headd for its first season in the cavernous Carrier Dome. But without aircraft carrier Roosevelt Bouie patrolling the middle, the Orangemen will be pushed by Big East rival Connecticut. Like Rutgers, UConn picked up a disaffected Kentucky player in 6'11" Chuck Aleksinas. He'll allow 6'8" Corny Thompson to move to power forward where he belongs. In the ECAC North, Holy Cross has an R. Guerin at guard, Boston University a J. Twyman at forward—they're Richie and Jay, freshman sons of the ex-NBA standouts. Northeastern's blood, though not so blue, is tested: all five starters from the Huskies' 19-8 team return, including a 20.8-scorer in Guard Pete Harris.
Iona's new coach, Pat Kennedy, lost Center Jeff Ruland to the enticements of an agent but inherits recruiting catch Gary Springer and two transfers, 6'10" Mike Ice and 6'9" Ted O'Gorman. Wagner comes off a truly Wagnerian season that took the Seahawks from the heights of Die Meistersinger (a 7-0 start) to the depths of Götterdämmerung (a 7-13 finish). When the curtain goes up, 6'7" Center Howard Thompkins (18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game) will play a leading role again.
St. Joe's will get a challenge from Temple in the ECC if the Owls learn their vowels—nine players were getting private tutoring to remain eligible during the fall—and two recruits manage to shore up a weak bench. In the ECAC South region, Old Dominion loses only one starter from last year's 25-5 NCAA tourney team, with Forward Ronnie McAdoo the reigning Monarch. Among the Ivies, look for the resurrection of the Route 1 Axis, as Penn, Princeton and Columbia finish 1-2-3. Those three teams have 14 of 15 starters back, with Penn the deepest. Furman has a good shot at repeating as Southern Conference champions. Coach Eddie Holbrook got new blood up front where he needed it, and his sharpshooting guard, Mel Daniel, should profit from the league's new three-point field-goal rule.