There is only one certainty in the conference this year: IDAHO STATE, after eight successive championships, will not win a ninth. Conference members have voted that a team must play a minimum of 12 league games to be eligible for the title, and State, enlarging its nonconference schedule, plays only six. Coach Johnny Evans starts his second year at Idaho State with a roster that does not seem to be on a par with recent Bengal teams, but there is more to his lineup than meets the eye. In addition to all-conference Guard Frank Swopes, Evans has starter Ray Griffith, a 6-foot-4 forward, and six junior-college transfers. Two of them, 6-foot-8 Al Rolf and 6-foot-5 Charlie Bearup, are red-shirts who will start in the front line, although both have to beat out 6-foot-6 Goose Crumby. Guard Jack Wombolt is another transfer likely to start. Letterman Dennis Moultan, Bob Blum and Larry Knackstedt and transfers Ron Olson and Bob Dye should help. COLORADO STATE emerges as the leader in a free-for-all for the title. Coach John Bunn has depth and if he can develop a rebounder to replace Jim Hruska his three returning starters will run the free-lance fast break. Two candidates have applied for the job: Leon Johnson, a 6-foot-5 reserve, and 6-foot-6 Rod Hoist, a sophomore with no previous basketball experience. Guard Theo Holland, from last year's all-conference team, paces the returning starters with a 17-point average. Holland's running mate, 5-foot-9 Frank Carbajal, gives the squad the best backcourt in the conference. Starting Forward Bob Ruffin has his corner insured, while the other goes to sophomore Ted Wright, who beat out Roy Betz and Wellington Williams and sophomore Gary Burkgren. Jim Blewett is again the No. 1 reserve at guard, backed up by sophomores Jim Gilbert and Jerry Ratliff. Last year Bunn opened the season against tough outside teams but this year's nonconference games involve less imposing opposition. Coach Willard Pederson has been building patiently and steadily at COLORADO WESTERN, and now has six starters ready to move the team from a long residence in the second division. Western's scoring punch is in the backcourt. Guard Jim Bevers led the league with a 21.6-point average last year, and Ken Barone was not far behind until he was sidelined by a concussion. Gale Fillmore missed last season after breaking his leg in football. Starting Forwards Don Allen, Dave Braugham and Richard Buck are all back. The obvious problem is to find a center. Pederson is turning hopefully to two transfer students, 6-foot-5 Phil Coulter and 6-foot-4 Maurice Warren. Reserve Forward Jim Horney and sophomores Ralph Beckerman and Ron Anderson give the not-very-tall Mountaineers plenty of depth and speed to go with a good scoring punch. Championship hopes at COLORADO COLLEGE are pinned on the ability of a couple of junior-college transfers to take over the vacated guard spots. Dan Wright and Farrell Thompson, along with reserve Tony Sellitto, will run behind the most experienced front line of any of the teams eligible for the crown. Coach Leon Eastlack can count on good shooting and strong rebounding from returning starters Art Ackerman, a 6-foot-5 center, and Forwards Jim Hanks and Jim Wexels. Another transfer, 6-foot-5 Center Dave Krell, joins reserve Forward Paul Mott and sophomore Farrell Howell to form the second line up front. Look out for ADAMS STATE this year. New Coach Jack Cotton has 6-foot-4 Fred Sims, a hot transfer from New Mexico, and four returning starters. Center John Friem, Forward Jim Davenport and Guards John Blatnick and Garland Osborne complete the first five. At 6 feet 6, reserve Forward Jack Horn is the tallest player in school, but soph Bob Pigford, two inches shorter, has the best chance to displace a starter. COLORADO MINES is the only team that is not stronger this year. Two starters, Guard Jerry Cronen and Forward George Clausen, are back with reserves Rip Van Sickle, a 6-foot-5 center, Guards Bill Flesner and Leroy Wretlind and Forwards Brent Beer and Chuck Strain. Coach Jim Darden faces a rough winter due to lack of height.
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