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THE REST OF THE BEST
Alexander Wolff
November 29, 1982
These 32 teams should be among the 52 that receive bids to the expanded NCAA tournament
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November 29, 1982

The Rest Of The Best

These 32 teams should be among the 52 that receive bids to the expanded NCAA tournament

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"Brian [Winters] told me when I had a jump shot to take it, and Quinn [Buckner] helped me with my defense," says MAROUETTE Guard Glenn (Doc) Rivers of his off-season self-improvement sessions with present and former Milwaukee Bucks. The 6'4" junior was MVP of the U.S. team at the World Championship in Cali, Colombia and opened fall practice trimmed and burning. "I've never seen him in such good shape," says Warrior Coach Hank Raymonds, who's beginning his sixth and last season. "He isn't turning it on and off anymore." Forward Marc Marotta is Marquette's other top returning scorer, while Swingman Kerry Trotter is the class of the freshmen.

"I don't have any catchy sayings or mottoes this year," says NOTRE DAME Coach Digger Phelps, who called last season's Fighting Irish The Rat Pack and said they'd "steal 20 victories." As things turned out, all 10 victories were well paid for. The Irish wouldn't have won that many without Guard John Paxson, who shot 53.5% and averaged 16.4 points. "We've had some spectacular play from the freshmen in practice," says Phelps of his excellent five-man class. "That worries me—I don't know if they're that good, or if the rest of the team isn't as good as it should be." Last year's results should answer that question.

A tougher schedule should earn independent DAYTON the at-large berth it barely missed last season. The Flyers are led by Guard Roosevelt Chapman, the team MVP who averaged 18.1 points a year ago. Chapman will join returning guards Kevin Conrad and Larry Schellenberg on the perimeter.

How can a team lose four starters to the NBA draft, its umpteenth recruit from its own backyard to the state school down the pike, welcome back just one starter—whose name sounds like a debutante's—and still be the conference favorite? In spite of it all, ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM will win the Sun Belt and dance in March, thanks to returning Guard Luellen Foster, transfer Forward Cliff Pruitt, a malcontent at UCLA who becomes eligible in December, and Center Lex Drum, who bolted Missouri two years ago but didn't get much playing time last season. Another new transfer is Forward Eugene Jones, from the Blazers' recruiting nemesis, Alabama. "If we have good luck injury-wise," says Coach Gene Bartow, "we could be better than last year [25-6] by the end of the season." That's when the Sun Belt holds its tournament to pick an NCAA rep. In Birmingham.

TENNESSEE-CHATTANOOGA choo-chooed through its schedule last season, going 15-1 in the Southern Conference and 27-4 overall, counting three straight wins in the league tournament. Though the Mocs lost Forward Russ Schoene and Guard Nick Morken, they still have junior Guard Willie White, who was conference Player of the Year as a sophomore. Transferring in from junior college is Gerald Wilkins, the 6'6" kid brother of the Atlanta Hawks' Dominique, the Human Highlight Film. Wilkins began developing a reputation as the Human Highlight Trailer at the National Sports Festival, where he set a four-game scoring record while playing for the North team. The Mocs will play in a new 11,200-seat arena they'll call The Roundhouse—love those train metaphors.

Washington State will be like a doughnut—centerless—when it plays Coach George Raveling's open post offense, but the Cougars will have height, depth and a three-senior forecourt. One of them is Guy Williams, who was the MVP in a 1979 NCAA first-round game as a freshman at San Francisco. Says Raveling, who expects more from Williams than the 11.1 points and 5.7 rebounds he averaged last season, "He thinks shooting a basketball is like a diving contest—that they award points for degree of difficulty."

SOUTHERN CAL Coach Stan Morrison, making good on a promise, did a cannonball into a swimming pool when the Trojans made last spring's tournament. Morrison promises that if USC makes it to the Final Four, he'll "do a cannonball off the Redondo Beach pier." Jacque Hill, who rarely turns the ball over despite handling it 80% of the time in the Trojan offense, returns to the point, and two sophomores who made the Pac-10 all-rookie team—Wayne Carlander (8.6 points per game, 6.3 rebounds) and Ken Johnson (9.5, 7.9)—will anchor the forecourt. Freshman Gerry (Sir Jamalot) Wright, a 6'8" forward with an 11-inch handspan, can execute a 720-degree dunk.

Guards Alvin Robertson and Darrell Walker, two Hogs who can get high—38 inches each, to be exact—are two reasons why ARKANSAS will win the Southwest Conference. Another reason: Coach Eddie Sutton, who says, "Alvin and Darrell could play with three sorority mothers and still be winners." The Razorback center will be 6'11" Joe Kleine, a transfer from Notre Dame whose playing style is more fraternity brother. That's in stark contrast to last season's center, mobile, soft-shooting Scott Hastings. Sutton is counting on 12 points and eight rebounds a game from Kleine, but doesn't expect the Hogs to shoot as well as they did the last five seasons, when Arkansas was second in the nation in field-goal percentage. "If the NCAAs were a game of H-O-R-S-E," says Sutton, "we'd finish last."

Since coming to HOUSTON from Nigeria in 1980, Akeem Abdul (Jelly) Olajuwon has added 55 pounds to his 7-foot frame, and the 245-pound Jelly hasn't even got a roll. Three other front-liners, instrumental in the Cougars' surprising rush to last spring's Final Four, return: Larry (Mr. Mean) Micheaux, an excellent inside shooter who sports a tattoo of an anchor on his right arm; Clyde (the Glide) Drexler, a fine offensive rebounder; and shooter Michael Young. The Cougs are wondering how they will replace departed backcourt starters Rob Williams and Lynden Rose.

San Diego State hopes that where there's smoke, there's fire. "Eddie's got to get more consistent," says Coach Dave (Smokey) Gaines of senior Eddie Morris. "He can burn them out one night, and the next he can't even light the fire." Maybe Morris won't mix 3-for-16 games with 20-for-25 outings in 1982-83. Keith Smith, the Aztecs' leading scorer (12.8 points) of 1981-82, will be in the backcourt with Swingman Morris or freshman Guard Anthony Watson. Michael Cage, a high school teammate of Keith Lee, is the best player in the WAC's finest front line that also includes Center Leonard Allen and Forward Eddie Gordon.

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