Indiana's Don (Ox) Schlundt is the best center in the country. The finest tribute to Schlundt's scoring skill is this: opponents gather around him and let long shots come?just so long as the Ox is harnessed. Schlundt's nickname is no accident. He's six feet ten inches and weighs 225 pounds.
Put Gola and Hemric at guards, Horan and Ricketts at forwards, Schlundt at center and you have SI's preseason All-America five. This may overlook the merits of other stars, but it's a preseason dream team, subject to change, with notice, as the season progresses.
Gola should carry La Salle all the way to its second straight N.C.A.A. championship. "I don't have a fifth man," La Salle's Coach Ken Loeffler was heard to wail last week. Perhaps, but he has three good men and Gola.
Dudey Moore, who coaches Duquesne, has another complaint. "No depth," Dudey says, "and no Gola." The complaint is minor. Behind Ricketts, Duquesne has a Brooklyn boy named Sihugo Green with steel springs for legs. Green is a junior and it will be Moore's pleasure to watch the young man develop. He should develop enough to make Duquesne the second best team in the country.
Iowa takes the No. 3 spot and probably will take the Big Ten championship away from Indiana, too. The Hawkeyes have no single star like Schlundt but they had eight sophomores on their fine team last season. Now they have eight juniors and, therefore, should be that much better.
Dayton, with Horan and a seven-foot center named Billy Uhl, shapes up as the best midwestern independent and the fourth best in the country. North Carolina State, on N.C.A.A. probation, is ineligible for tournament competition. Perfectly eligible for regular-season play, State looms as the No. 5 team. Niagara, always tough, plays La Salle Saturday. A good game shapes up. Niagara is No. 6.
Wichita, featuring speedy Cleo Littleton, looks like the seventh best in the country. Kentucky, not the power it was, still has the top-flight coaching of Adolph Rupp. The Wildcats have promise and Rupp turns promise into results. No. 8.
TWO GOOD PRACTICES
The Pacific Coast is not strong. Perhaps it is a football hangover that prompts the selection of UCLA as No. 9, but the UCLAns do have stars in John Moore and Don Bragg. St. Francis of Loretto, Pa., an athletically ambitious small school, is a long-shot special at No. 10. Dr. William Hughes, the coach, practices dentistry, so his squad practices after office hours?from 8 to 10:30. Both practices are good.
There are, of course, other teams who'll crash the top 10. Fordham, Holy Cross and Alabama are strong and threatening. But in this December it is not possible to be quite sure what February holds. That's the best thing that could possibly have happened to college basketball.