But no matter how explosive and acrobatic, can a team featuring 6'9" Oliver Miller, the jolly 300-pound elf who led the nation in field goal percentage (70.4), and 6'8" Todd Day, the wiseass trash-talker who is his own worst enemy, actually be coachable? Nolan Richardson gets one last chance to find out, his key being senior Lee Mayberry, the best point guard in college. "You know if you take a screw out of something and everything falls apart?" says forward Clyde Fletcher. "That's how Lee is to our team." In other words, that's when Richardson's "40 minutes of hell" is expunged by 40 seconds of helter-skelter.
On Dec. 21, the Hogs will get a chance to avenge one of last season's embarrassments, their NIT blowout by
, another Johnny-come-lately to basketball success. It's Lute-come-lately, actually, coach Lute Olson being the architect of the renaissance in Tucson, whose good citizens by now expect nothing less than a Pacific-10 championship every season.
Big men Sean Rooks and Ed Stokes, along with 6'6" forward Chris Mills, helped Arizona to its fourth straight such title last season, and with the whimpering hound, Brian Williams, gone to the pros, the Arizona front line should be even better. While hustling guard Matt Othick runs the club and freshman Damon Stoudamire provides speed, it is sophomore guard Khalid Reeves, Arizona's leading scorer in four of its last five games in '90-91, who can be a stone star. All he must do is improve his judgment on court and stay out of trouble off it.
Trouble? The best new freshman forwards at
are Donyell Marshall and Donny Marshall, and if you think that's confusing, just consider how the Huskies retained a prominent place in the polls last year with no point guard, no offense to speak of and no free throw shooting. (Guard Chris Smith is the only returnee to fire better than 63% from the line.) The answer is defense—swarming, suffocating defense, the kind of D that created 326 steals and 570 turnovers and limited opponents to 38.9% field goal shooting last year.
In Smith, who is far better at off guard than the point, and 6'7" forward Scott Burrell, he of the 90-mph fastball, whose pitching rights are held by the Toronto Blue Jays, coach Jim Calhoun may have the nation's two best defenders at their respective positions. Rod Sellers and Toraino Walker provide additional muscle inside. If only a couple of the members of Connecticut's bountiful recruiting class pay off—say, 6'2" Richie Ashmeade and the highly touted 6'9" Marshall (Donyell, that is)—which means if they can simply shoot and score, the Huskies will be confusing no longer.