The Dons of SAN FRANCISCO do not dominate here the way Idaho State does in the RMC (see below), but only because there is strength elsewhere in the newly-named West Coast Athletic Conference. However, there is still little doubt that they will go to the NCAA and may prove to be the best in the nation this year. Everyone of importance is back from last season's superb squad and Fred LaCour, a high school All America, moves up from the frosh with rave notices from Coach Woolpert. LaCour, 6 feet 5, will probably team up front with 6-foot-7 Mike Farmer, vastly underrated by All-America pickers last year. In the back-court are speedy Al Dunbar and Gene Brown, who is simply one of the best all-round collegians in the game today. At center, 6-foot-9 Art Day is still trying to fill out Bill Russell's shoes. After a year's experience as a sophomore starter, he should be vastly improved. Also back are Bill Mallen, Charles Russell, Dave Lillevand and Bob Radanovich; John Cunningham, who averaged 20 points with the JVs last season, may also see plenty of action. All this offensive strength fused in the controlled, only-the-good-shot style) is only half the story. Woolpert's famed aggressive defense is the other half. It's really a half, three-quarter or full-court press, each used when the situation demands. The Dons were second in the nation in defense last year, which leaves little enough room for improvement. ST. MARY'S and SANTA CLARA will battle for second place in the conference. The edge goes to the Gaels because of greater experience. Coach Weaver again has little height, which obliges him to play for good shots, and his men demonstrated their skill at this last season by finishing 10th in the nation in field-goal shooting percentage. St. Mary's also plays a strong switching man-to-man defense, led by 6-foot-5 LeRoy Doss, who is also a fine rebounder. The other returning starters are 6-foot-5 Lou Ferrario, 6-foot-4 Dick Sigaty—that's the height—and Bob Dold. Sophomores expected to play this year are Larry Brennan and Joe Monson, both backcourt men. The Gaels' tough early season schedule should have them razor-sharp for West Coast rivals later. At Santa Clara, one senior, three juniors and three sophomores carry the team, which will have a backcourt that satisfies Coach Feerick but gives him headaches up front. The guards are veterans Jim Taylor and Gary Gillmor, and Sophomore Frank Sobrero. Jerry Bachich will likely start up front, with George Gardiner and 6-foot-7 Mel Prescott fighting for the other slot. At center is 6-foot-7 John Marshall. Shooting and speed are the assets here; inexperience the weakness. If a surprise is sprung in this conference, it will be perpetrated by the Spartans of SAN JOSE STATE. The real reason is not because all five top scorers from last season return. It is the presence of two transfer students, Jim Embree and Bob Larson, both 6 feet 5 and both apparently good enough to start. The veterans include the driving Gil Egeland; 6-foot-7 Marv Branstrom, a fine hooker and rebounder; the speedy, high-scoring Eddie Diaz (only 5 feet 11); and Don Rye and George Wagner, who alternated as starting guards with Diaz. In addition, Coach McPherson counts real depth for a change. This is a fast, seasoned squad, whose former weakness up front should be solved by Embree and Larson. PEPPERDINE, COLLEGE OF THE PACIFIC and LOYOLA will be scrambling to stay out of the cellar. Pepperdine has last year's last-place starters back: John Kasser, George Taylor, Jack Crowther, Mack Taylor and John Rettberg—the result of a two-year building program. Some fine freshmen move up, led by 6-foot-6 Sterling Forbes, but there is simply too much power above them in the conference. Coach Donovan's Loyola team will be too small and too inexperienced to rate as consistent performers. The five best: Tom Donahue, Gene Pingatore, Bill Germscheid, Jim Weidercher and Bill Wagner. COP will be a sophomore team surrounding 6-foot-ll LeRoy Wright. This is not Coach Sweet's year. Fresno State has dropped out of the conference and joined the CCAA.
Man to watch: SAN FRANCISCO'S MIKE FARMER