The Schools are small but the basketball is big-time in this conference, and at least one of the teams this year has a good chance of being among the top 20 in the nation. That would be BOWLING GREEN, whose coach, Harold Anderson, can boast a .705 winning percentage (426-178) as he starts his 25th year. Anderson has all of his starters and most of their substitutes back from last season, but that's only half the story. Back too is Rex Leach, who was the Falcons' top scorer and rebounder two years ago, after a year's recuperation from an attack of hepatitis. Then there are two 6-foot-8 transfer students: Ron Parsons from Nebraska, and George Burmeister from Loyola of Chicago, who may well replace veterans in the first five. And finally there is sophomore Jim Routson, who will surely make the squad and may even start. The veterans include Jim McDonald, Frank Wade, Richard Abele and Charles McCampbell, and are led by the sparkling backcourtman Jimmy Darrow, who averaged 22.1 points a game as a sophomore last season. The addition of Leach, Parsons and Burmeister means great rebounding strength for a squad that got along well without this important ingredient a year ago. In his first year at MIAMI, Coach Dick Shrider won the conference title, and with an undefeated record (see below), a really fine achievement in this tough league. But he has lost his two top scorers, and one of them, Wayne Embry, also represented much of the team's rebounding strength. The front court is intact, with Bill Brown and Jim Thomas returning, and the speedy, 5-foot-8 Jim Hamilton is a reliable playmaker. Filling Embry's pivot slot is the real problem; reserve Eddie Wingard will try to solve it, and much depends on his performance. Veterans Bob Miller and Herb Rowan and sophomores Dave Zeller, Vern Lawson, Terry Marty and Rick Ryan complete the squad. Gone from MARSHALL are two of the three hot shooters that made the Big Green tops in the nation in offense last season. Leo Byrd is back and big things are expected of him again, but the squad lacks the single outstanding big man and will do well if it holds its place in the standings. Coach Jule Rivlin has excellent speed and shooting at his command in Byrd, Sonny Allen, Herm Conner, John Derrow, Dick Hall, Ivan Mielke and John Milhoan—all lettermen. Sophomores do not figure significantly in Rivlin's plans; he will go with his veterans and hope they are fast enough to overcome any deficiencies in size. OHIO U. started last season by beating Indiana, the team that went on to win the Big Ten title—which is a good indication of the caliber of ball played in this conference. The Bobcats have a tall, experienced crew returning, deep in reserves (eight lettermen) and with two fine sophomore prospects in Bunk Adams and Howard Jolliff. There is a possibility that the 6-foot-6 Jolliff may not become eligible until the second semester, but even without him there is plenty of height. The starters should be Bob Anderson, Dick Norman, Dave Scott, Jerry Wolf and Verlynn Witte, backed up by reserves Bob Gaunt, Dale Bandy and Bruce Johnson. This bunch has everything but real speed. In that department KENT STATE appears the most improved team in the conference, because of a fine collection of upcoming fleet-footed sophomores. Three of them—Jim Maddox, Charley Boykin and Oliver Wallace—are likely starters, which will enable Coach Bill Bertka to switch from last season's ball-control style to a running offense. Two veterans are ineligible: Gene Michaels has signed to play with the Pittsburgh Pirates ($25,000 bonus) and Bob Thomas didn't make his grades. Two others will start: Jack Moore and Dale Hyatt, and they are counted on heavily for board strength. Lack of experience is the rub here; it may be overcome by midseason. Both Toledo and Western Michigan have long lists of veterans returning but, for different reasons, do not seem capable of improving much on last season's records. At WESTERN MICHIGAN, Only holdover Ed Blair is a sure starter. All four others may well be sophomores, and this is too tough a conference for so green a first five. The newcomers joining Blair are Keith Sterk, Steve Holmes, Jack Grimes and Sam Key. The veterans destined for reserve assignments are Paul Hendricks, David Kollat, Lyle McAuley and Charles Mitchell. For new Coach Don Boven this must be a rebuilding year. At TOLEDO the sophomores are not good enough to replace the old hands, who did not display much scoring punch last season. They should improve with experience, but, sadly, so will most of the league. A starting five will come from among John, Arkebauer, Ned Miklovic, John Sparvero, Ron Oranski, John Papcun, Bernie Cabey, Willie Newson and Stuart Davies.
Man to watch
JIMMY DARROW, BG
In his first varsity season last year, this 5-foot-11 guard scored 508 points, hitting close to 50% of his floor shots.