Sitting on a table inside the enormous aspirin tablet that is the Mabee Center, Roberts, 72, talks of his school's past headaches. "It's difficult raising all that money," he says. "It's a hard deal. Flying—that's major money, man."
He adjusts himself while trainer Glenn Smith massages his shoulders with ultrasound. Roberts has had rotator surgery on both shoulders for injuries resulting from 43 years of continuously raising and lowering his arms to bless the faithful. "The sports page is like a Bible," he says. "Forty million men read it daily. We're trying to get our message out, and sports bring it down to the level of the people."
The message is easier to get out if you're a winner, and this season the Titans will do a lot of winning. They are led by long-armed guard Greg Sutton, who scored 30.6 points per game last season as a junior and has the green light. Trickey's charges also include two promising transfers: Anthony Jones, a 6'7" forward from Connors ( Okla.) State and Sebastian Neal, a 6'6" swingman who attended both Georgia and Connors State before settling at Oral Roberts.
In 1971-72 and 1972-73 the Titans led the nation in scoring, and the addition of Jones and Neal should put them back on the fast track. "Athletics is entertainment, and people want to see a fast-paced game with a lot of points," says Trickey.
To most of the players, the squeaky-clean life-style that Oral Roberts demands is a sobering experience. Before enrolling, all students must agree in writing not to smoke, drink or swear. The school also requires men to wear ties to class and to attend twice-weekly chapel services. "Being an athlete, I've been around lots of free-living types of people," says Neal. "ORU has a midnight curfew for all women—and a curfew for them is a curfew for us. It's also different here because there's a lot of hypocrisy. On campus some of the students wear a halo, but off campus you see them drunk."
The conduct that Oral Roberts requires can also serve to set some students straight. "It took time to get used to things here, but I like it," says senior forward Howard Logan. "The discipline prepares you for the real world. Besides, I like Coach Trickey. I've known him so long that he's got me listed on his income-tax returns."
Back in his office, Trickey leans over his immense desk and points to a photograph of sold-out Mabee Center during the 1974 loss to Kansas in the NCAA tournament. "This is what President Roberts measures everything by," he says. "If he can build a whole university, how can I not put together a winning basketball program?"