There does not appear to be any hope for an interesting race here until the Bengals of IDAHO STATE drop basketball from their athletic program or follow Montana State out of the conference. The Bengals have won the title five years in a row and should repeat without giving Coach Grayson a single sleepless night. They have lost Jack Allain and Jerry Hicks, but almost everyone else is back. In addition, they welcome transfer student LeRoy Bacher, who played a year and a half at Oklahoma and three years in the Navy. Bacher, 6 feet 5 and 230 pounds, will go right into the post with his fine hook shot. Jim Rodgers, who played under Grayson in high school and at Oklahoma, is another certain starter, as are Gail Siemen and Lloyd Harris. Harris was ineligible the second half of last season; he may be one of the best in the RMC this year. Alan Morris, Roy Christian, Ray Chaney and Ed Kuske will be battling for the fifth spot. Behind them are freshmen and sophomores who make up a bench good enough to form a seventh team in the conference. The RMC allows freshmen to play with the varsity, but they are ineligible for the NCAA roundup. Last year, Idaho State beat Hardin-Simmons and lost to BYU and San Francisco; in both losses, only two starters were eligible. This year, they will be able to field a much sounder and more seasoned crew and may go farther than the first round, ADAMS STATE is a full-fledged conference member this season; last year's 10 games with RMC opponents (which they split 5-5) did not count in the standings. They may have the tallest starting five, led by 6-foot-6 Marvin Motz, a fine scorer and rebounder, and 6-foot-8 Jim Groves. Two other veterans return: Guard John Landon and Forward Jim Casey, and Sophomore Doug Anderson is also certain to make the squad. The Indians did not face Idaho State last year; this season they should do as well as any other team in the conference against the champions. WESTERN STATE returns only three starters, Gary Peyton and John Hertzke up front and Guard Dewey Thornton, but expects help from some transfer students who will also supply their only height: 6-foot-5 Warren Schmidt and 6-foot-7 Dave Weyer. Coach Miller counts on speed and his best outside shooting in a long time. At COLORADO STATE Coach Bunn plans on a starting five made up exclusively of sophomores, undoubtedly to get some height into his lineup. His only returning regular is also a sophomore: 6-foot-5 Center Jim Hruska. The newcomers include Paul McKeever, Jerry Salmans and Jim Cox. Over-all, Bunn hopes for an average 6-foot-4 crew, with fair shooting ability but sadly lacking in experience. The SCHOOL OF MINES should be considerably improved if only because of a nucleus of starting veterans. These include 6-foot-4 Dick Egen and 6-foot-2 Ed Crabtree up front; 6-foot-5 Bill Anderson at center; 6-foot-2 John Beacham in the back-court. Filling out at guard is 5-foot-10 Vince Tesone, and battling for a place is 6-foot-4 Forward Lou Nelan. Only Egen and the last two are sophomores. There is a hint of wistfulness in Coach Darden's estimate that the best thing about last year's team was its ability to hit free throws. The big, strong pivotman is still lacking, and the Ore-diggers can only be hopeful of leapfrogging over Colorado State. Only 1,000 spectators came to watch COLORADO COLLEGE play six home games at Colorado Springs last year. It's a toss-up whether lack of support is responsible for the Tigers' dismal record or vice versa. The conference record is sad enough; for four years: 1-9, 0-10, 0-10, 1-7. This year, Coach Eastlack builds around speedy, aggressive Lee Roy Williams, and expects a little better size and scoring. The future can hardly be dimmer than the past. The conference generally plays a single post and fast break on offense. The zone and man-to-man share the defense, with the zone press becoming popular here as elsewhere around the country.
Man to watch: IDAHO STATE'S JIM RODGERS