opened its season last Saturday with a 63-61 loss to Virginia, it clearly missed Danny Ainge, the erstwhile Blue Jay and incipient Celtic. These days Ainge is a volunteer JV coach who can only help call the shots, not take them. "You don't replace a Danny Ainge," says Coach Frank Arnold. Senior Fred Roberts, 6'10", leads a front line that averaged 37 points and 27 rebounds a game last year when BYU went" 25-7 and finished third in the Western Athletic Conference.
BYU should make the tournament field, but look for the WAC's automatic bid to go to
. "We might not be as explosive or flashy as last year," says Coach Jim Brandenburg, whose Cowboys no longer have their alltime leaders in scoring (Charles Bradley) and rebounding (Ken Ollie). "We'll have to fit the pieces together a little differently." Last year's team was 24-6 and led the nation in field-goal-percentage defense and scoring and rebounding margins. Center Bill Garnett, 6'9", is the top returnee (14.1 points, 6.8 rebounds), and Dwight McClendon and Mike Jackson, Wyoming's best outside shooter, will man the backcourt.
, defending Pac-10 champion, has only two starters back from the team that won 24 straight and finished 26-2, and neither sophomore Forward Charlie Sitton nor senior Guard Les Conner qualifies as a veteran. Each is beginning only his second season as a Beaver. Oregon State will make its case to the tournament committee on the strength of its schedule, which includes early games with BYU and Louisville and, of course, the home-and-home action in the Pac-10. A junior college transfer from Canada and two reserves from last season will be asked to replace the 44.5 points per game that left with All-America Center Steve Johnson and Guards Ray Blume and Mark Radford. The newcomer is 6'11" Center Greg Wiltjer; the holdovers are Rob Holbrook, a senior forward who started as a sophomore, and Guard William Brew.
"I've never experienced such fan appreciation," says
Coach Boyd Grant, who previously was an assistant at Kentucky. "They're first-class and gracious. And never rowdy." The enthusiasm of the Red Wave, as the Bulldog backers are known, combined with Grant's deliberate style—he calls it "tempo programming"—should serve Fresno State well as it defends the PCAA title. "We favor substance over style," says Grant, which means potentially stylish Rod Higgins, Fresno's All-America candidate at forward, won't gussy up his 15.4 scoring average. Fifteen a game is a bundle, considering that the Dogs are at their best when their top-of-the-charts defense—50.4 points allowed per game while going 24-4 in 1980-81—keeps scores in the 40s and 50s.
The man they call Dwight Lightning made an impressive debut with
last year, averaging 19.3 points in 12 second-semester games while still not completely sure of himself or Coach Stan Morrison's system. "I averaged those points, on confusion alone," says Guard Dwight Anderson, who had transferred in from Kentucky. Now, with All- Pac-10 Forward Maurice Williams, Jacque Hill and James McDonald on hand to start again, and with the return of 6'9" Clayton Olivier, who missed all but the first two games of last season with bone spurs in his right leg, the Trojans will be plenty deep—and certain to improve on their 14-13 record. "I could have a problem trying to keep 15 people happy," says Morrison. "But that's better than not having that problem."
UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
retains four starters from last season's 25-4 team, most notably the Big Sky's MVP, junior Guard Brian Kellerman, who averaged 18 points per game. Other key returnees: Forward Phil Hopson and Point Guard Kenny Owens. The Vandals will have to survive major losses at two positions. One is the pivot, where both the starter and backup from 1980-81 have departed. The other is what one might call the "roof." The Vandals have won 21 straight at the Kibbie Dome, a covered multi-purpose facility. But the Dome developed a leaky roof after the season and no sooner had the school removed the top for repairs than it rained. Poured. Kibbie's innards got soaked—as might some of the Vandals' fans while the repair job is being completed.
is making a habit of sorts of being in the NCAA tournament, having gained the Southland Conference berth three years in a row. But unlike many representatives of upstart conferences, the Cardinals have actually won in the tourney, too, eliminating such powers as Missouri and Oregon State. Even though the top three starters from a 25-5 team have completed their eligibility and another starter didn't return to school, look for the Cards to qualify again. Coach Pat Foster brought in six recruits, including five junior college transfers, to join Forward Kenneth Perkins and Guard Terry Long. Two of the J.C. products, Brian Kellybrew and Ronnie Wennberg, were last season's leading scorers for Westark (Ark.) Junior College, the national champ at that level. "I don't believe we'll be labeled a streaky club, like some of the other Lamar teams were," says Long, a senior. The only streaky label the Cards would like to maintain is the one regarding the Beaumont Civic Center, where they've won 46 straight, the nation's longest homecourt skein.
After 10 months in the U.S., Akeem Abdul (Jellybean) Olajuwon,
6'11�", 240-pound freshman center, has decided he likes steak and Moses Malone. The steak has replaced the native Nigerian's usual diet of rice—for breakfast, lunch and dinner—and added 25 pounds to his frame. Jellybean—he prefers the nickname Little Moses—joins just about everyone from last season's 21-9 SWC tournament champion Cougars. However, All-America Guard Rob Williams, who averaged 25 points a game, might be out until the SWC season starts in January because of minor surgery on his right knee. Williams is also noteworthy for his gold tooth. "My mother has one, my father has one, my sister has one, my brother has one," he says. "I didn't want to be the oddball."