For the first time in the school's 50-year basketball history, the University of SAN FRANCISCO is practicing in its own new gymnasium. In the past, USF teams have played on borrowed courts. It is something of a pity, therefore (though it doesn't appear so, obviously, to the other teams in the league), that Coach Phil Wool-pert has his weakest squad in years, and that San Francisco's recent supremacy may come to an end this season. Woolpert is always, of course, his team's biggest asset—a superb teacher of the fundamentals, especially on defense. It will take all his skill to produce a title-winner this time, not only because he has lost all of his best players but because the competition this year is exceptionally strong. Woolpert starts with Mike Preaseau, last link to the golden years of the Bill Russell teams. He, John Cunningham, Dave Lillevand, Charles Range and Jerry Robinson or Dave Hinds make up a likely first five. Top reserves are Bob Radanonvich and Ron Cox. As usual, USF will be tough on defense and will run a deliberate, wait-for-the-good-shot attack. Lack of experience is the biggest flaw. Chief pretender to the throne is ST. MARY'S, heavy with talent and primed for the kill. All five starters returned, but Erv Blue was forced to drop basketball because of illness. He will be missed, but there are many to take his place. The veterans are Joe Barry, Bob Dold, Laroy Doss, Dick Sigaty and Larry Brennan. Leading the sophomores, three of whom may start, is rugged re-bounder Tom Meschery, one of the Coast's finest prospects. The others are Al Claiborne, Joe Gardere, Pat Riley, Wes Tamm and Gene Womack. This bunch made up the first undefeated (17-0) frosh team in St. Mary's history last year. They supply the size and board strength that Coach Jim Weaver has been seeking for a long time. On the campus at St. Mary's students are already talking about the Gaels making the national championship finals. This seems to be a shade overoptimistic, but the talent is surely there. It is also present in abundance at COLLEGE OF THE PACIFIC, which is no long shot in this race either. In Leroy Wright, COP has one of the nation's outstanding pivotmen; his 6-foot-8 frame is as agile as many a little man's. He will be joined by veterans Neil Stafford, Gary Kaufman and David Klurman and transfer student Larkin Bryant, who was a much-sought-after junior-college player. There is, too, a deep, tall and experienced bench, including Don Cockburn, Maurice Jones, Bob Downum, Paul Kaufman, Sidney Smith, Dick Walsh and Ron Weibust. The only apparent defect is in the size of first-string guards Klurman and Kaufman, who are both under 6 feet. But everything else points toward Coach Van Sweet's best season. After these three there is a perceptible decline in conference strength, with Santa Clara and Pepperdine about equal on the next level. In Frank Sobrero, Mel Prescott and Jim Taylor SANTA CLARA has three men of proved ability. Sobrero especially has the natural ability to be better than just good. As a sophomore last year, he shot at close to a .500 clip. Coach Bob Feerick will choose his other starters from among John Hayes, Dave Dawson, Jim Russi, George Gardiner and Dave Ramm—all veterans and of good size. PEPPERDINE can boast of Sterling Forbes, All-Conference first team and the club's leading scorer and rebounder as a sophomore last season. He is joined on the starting five by veterans John Kasser, Bob Sims and John Rettberg. The fifth man probably will be sophomore Bob Blue, with Ernie Windle, Cliff Warren, Dave Hancock and Bob Hultz the top reserves. Coach Duck Dowell hopes for an improved record on the basis of improved defense, which was the big weakness last year. San Jose and Loyola will be battling to stay out of the cellar, with the former possibly having a shade the better chance. Coach Walt McPherson at SAN JOSE has a barely adequate number of first-string players, but they are of fair average size and three of them—Ned Fitzgerald, Cliff Barrett and Jim Wheelehan—are pretty good shooters. The other two starters likely will be Arnie Lundquist and Jim Embree. The loss of eight lettermen from the only so-so-club of last year hurt considerably, LOYOLA-S hopes of improving a poor record rest on better over-all height and a year's experience gained by a few key players. Two of the most important are returning starters Bill Wagner and Bill Germscheid. They will be joined on the first string by sophomores Jim Senske and Norm Forsythe. Veterans Dave Hammers, Jim Weidicher, Joe Amico and Ed Mitchell will supply the fifth regular and reserve strength. Poor shooting is Coach Bill Donovan's big headache. Practically all teams here play a deliberate offense and use the press often on defense.
Coach, San Jose
Man to watch
LEROY WRIGHT, COP
As a sophomore last year, he led the conference in rebounds and blocked shots in the style of Bill Russell.