Past the finish line of the rugged two-mile Indiana University cross-country course last fall came—who? The basketball team? It was the basketball team, all right. But that's Indiana for you. They run. And the faster they run the more Coach Branch McCracken likes it. This year McCracken has more and better runners than he's had in quite some time, though you wouldn't think it to hear him. ' "We're hurtin'," he says and his friends smile in delight. "I tell you, we're in trouble." In the last 22 years Branch McCracken has cried, "We're hurtin' " exactly 22 times.
It is true that only three of Coach McCracken's top 10 players return from last year's so-so team. But one of those three is Jimmy Rayl, a slender senior guard from Kokomo. Rayl, who looks more like a library assistant than an athlete, was second-high scorer in the Big Ten last year (29.8 points per game). He is a master from long range. A second starter back is 6-foot-4 Tom Bolyard, a fast and very aggressive forward who averaged nearly 19 points a game last season.
What makes Indiana really tough this year is a big, barrel-chested blond sophomore named Tom Van Arsdale and a big barrel-chested blond sophomore named Dick Van Arsdale, Tom's identical twin (seepage 40). McCracken wouldn't complain if he had a whole team of them. Alike as a pair of dueling pistols, and about as dangerous, the Van Arsdale twins come up to the varsity with rafts of testimonials. Because of the twins, McCracken has slowed down Indiana's traditional gun-and-run offense a bit to work in a pattern play or two. Dick will start at guard with Rayl, while Tom is up front with Bolyard.
Center is the Hoosiers' lone legitimate concern. Six-foot-10 Winston Fairfield has been a disappointment for two years but, if he matures this season, center won't be a problem at all. If the big senior can't do the job, thin but swift Ron Peyser, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, may get the call. The last whispered word around the Big Ten, meanwhile, is that Branch will end up with a Van Arsdale at center. Big Ten centers aren't overpowering anywhere this season; Indiana may get by.