The antithesis of Utah's happy warrior is a seven-footer from Dayton named Bill Uhl, who lacked something last year in the way of confidence and aggressiveness but still averaged 18.6 points a game. While Bunte lives for basketball, Uhl seems to be equally interested in going into the insurance business with his father and brother, in water skiing, building hi-fi record players and operating his ham radio set. He also gained a certain measure of fame last winter when Dayton moved into New York for a performance at Madison Square Garden. Uhl became probably the tallest acolyte in the history of St. Patrick's Cathedral by serving Mass for Father Charles Collins, Dayton's dean of students.
It is hard for Uhl to heed Coach Tom Blackburn's advice and "get tough." As a high school youngster he was tall, awkward and self-conscious ("I used to hit my head all the time going through doorways") and until his senior year in high school, after his mother died, shied away from sports. He sleeps diagonally in an oversized bed but still hangs over at the edges and, for a rather unusual reason, likes New York best of all the places Dayton plays basketball: it is the only place he knows to buy socks for his size 17 feet.
Last year, playing in his quiet, peaceable way, Bill Uhl led Dayton in scoring by hitting more than 45% of his shots from the floor, rebounded like a big cat and was a giant on defense. During the summer he worked as a bellboy for Kutsher's in the New York resort area and played basketball under Boston Celtics' Coach Red Auerbach. Somehow in the catalytic Catskills he found the aggressiveness he lacked last year. In the opener last week against Pepperdine, Uhl played only a little over half the game, scored 16 points in a 75-35 victory and caused Pepperdine Coach Duck Dowell to compare him favorably with Russell. " Russell is a little faster but he hasn't the power this Uhl has. This guy just runs over you. He's one of the top pro prospects I've seen." Two nights later Uhl hit 24 points in an 87-61 victory over Gustavus Adolphus.
Holy Cross ranks somewhere down the line when the talk is of such teams as San Francisco, Kentucky, Utah and Dayton. But the Crusaders may be the best in the East and Tom Heinsohn, who learned to play the game under a street light in Union City, N.J., may easily qualify as one of the best anywhere. Kentucky's Rupp, without qualification, calls Heinsohn one of the outstanding players in the nation.
Heinsohn had an early determination about basketball. He remembers having to wear gloves and a Mackinaw, as a boy, to play the game outside on cold winter nights, sweeping up the snow first of course. But Heinsohn is also a cartoonist of talent and an earnest and intelligent student with an 86 average while majoring in economics.
Last year Heinsohn proved he could move gracefully despite his six-foot-seven, hit from inside or out, rebound and pass off. He averaged over 23 points a game and ran his two-year scoring total to 1,049. Saturday night, in the opener against St. Anselm's, he started out after Bob Cousy's all-time Holy Cross record of 1,775 points, achieved in a four-season career. As the Crusaders rolled up an 80-55 victory, Heinsohn tossed in 23 effortless points, picked off a dozen or so rebounds, blocked St. Anselm's shots and captained the team with assurance. In short, Holy Cross appears to have found this year's successor to LaSalle's fabulous Tom Gola.
But these five stars—and these five teams—are only a handful of the headline makers as the 1955-56 season begins. Here are more to watch, section by section.
THE COLLEGES: A SECTION-BY-SECTION PREVIEW
THE MIDWEST. In the Big Ten, it's Iowa—maybe. The Hawkeyes, defending champions, lost only Deacon Davis by graduation and have back a wonderfully balanced team. Forward Carl Cain may be the standout but they're all good—and that is Iowa's strength. Illinois will be a strong challenger with a very promising sophomore—6'7" Ted Caiazza—threatening to crack an all-letterman lineup. And Indiana has enough good sophomores to be strong despite its loss of a great player in Don Schlundt. The best basketball player in the league—and certainly one of the finest shots in the country—could be Robin Freeman, whose Ohio State team is not expected to worry the leaders too much over the season.
In the Big Seven, Kansas has one of the best basketball players in the world. But he won't be able to help Phog Allen's varsity this year because Wilt (The Stilt) Chamberlain is a freshman. Even so, Kansas should challenge Colorado, a surprise NCAA semifinalist last year, right down to the finish. Kansas has one of the good ones in high-scoring guard Dallas Dobbs, while Colorado points with pride to a handsome 6'4" rebounder named Jim Ranglos and 6'7" center George Hannah. Missouri, a definite contender, has perhaps the league's best all-round player in Norm Stewart. Nebraska is building hopefully around last year's fine sophomore, Rex Ekwall.