The years of easy supremacy for Connecticut in the Yankee Conference are now a thing of the past, with a consequent rise in basketball interest all over New England. The UConns won their 11th title in 12 years last season, but nothing was settled until the final week, and this year's race should be even closer. RHODE ISLAND, for one, will challenge all the way. Coach Ernie Calverley has all his starters back, and he also has a bunch of sophomores who made up the best freshman team in the school's history last year, posting a 16-1 record. The squad is deep, very fast and has good average size, though it does lack the outstanding big man. The veterans include Forwards Tom Harrington and Barry Moulter, two of the best in the league, Harry Edmonds, Donald Brown, John Anderson and Dudley Davenport. Leading sophomores who may start are Bob Stephenson, Gary Koenig and David Ricereto; the others are Bob Chaplin, Michael Weiss, Ronald Stenhouse, Stuart Schachter, Anthony La Sala and Bill Nast. Calverley will stick to his familiar five-man weave offense. MAINE'S sophomores and juniors established its best conference record ever last season, and that whole crew also is back. In addition, a hot-shooting little guard named Tom Chappelle moves up from the frosh and may push one of the old hands out of a starting assignment. The veteran first five includes Donand Richard Sturgeon, the two high scorers, Wayne Champeon, Maurice Dore and Larry Schiner. Holdover reserves are Bob Morin and Jon Ingalls; Don Harnum, Randy Furbish and Leonard MacPhee complete the roster. The team lacks a strong pivotman and has only fair speed, but it shoots very well. Of course, no one is going to walk away with CONNECTICUT'S title. The UConns are loaded with talent, both new and familiar, and are led by the fast, quick-handed Jack Rose, probably the best backcourtman in the area. An even speedier newcomer is George Uhl, who may handle the other guard position. The best shooters here are Rose, the veterans John Pipszynski and Pete Kelly and sophomore Lenny Carlson, who is another likely starter. Altogether, there are eight varsity players back, plus seven sophomores and two transfer students. The other veterans are Ed Martin, Walt Griffin, Bob Countryman, John Risley and Bill Madison; the sophs are Dave Daniels, Dick Rogers, Tom Kellerman, Dave King and Tom Burke; the transfers are Bob Siuzdak and Roland Sheldon. Connecticut has the strongest rebounding team in the conference, which enables it to fast-break often; there is enough size and talent at the pivot for that to be an effective alternate style of attack. Coach Hugh Greer has added a number of strong new opponents to the schedule—Canisius, Niagara, Santa Clara—who will test his fine squad to the limit. MASSACHUSETTS was one of the two conference teams to beat Connecticut last year (Vermont was the other) but has lost three starters, and probably will use a sophomore, Charles Fohlin, at center, a tough assignment for a newcomer. Two fine veterans are the heart of the squad: Forward Doug Crutchfield and play-maker Leo Le Blanc, both excellent shooters. The rest of the starting lineup will be chosen from among reserves Bob Eichorn, Dick Greene, John Widdison, Jim Laughnone and Fran Naedele, and sophomores John Ricci and Mike Mole. New Coach Matt Zunic hopes to pick up some more ballplayers at the start of the second semester to round out his thin, largely green squad. NEW HAMPSHIRE has lost no one of importance from last year's varsity roster, but chances for the first winning season since 1952 still rest largely on star Center Pete Smilikis and above-average rebounding. The overall shooting is poor and the bench weak. The list of veterans includes Jason Bridge, John Couture, Pete Davis, Jim Greene, Marty Fischer, Roy Flaker, Ron Herrick, Tim Lindman and Doug Macey. Sophomores who will make the squad are Dave Agrodnia, Bob Bron, John McEachern and Victor Bertaglioli. Coach Bill Olson hopes that the year of seasoning will help his veterans support the board-work and scoring potential of Smilikis more effectively. At VERMONT only Charlie Isles returns from last year's four best scorers. He will get some rebounding help from 6-foot-4 Pete Beck, back after a year's layoff. The average size is fair, the speed good, the bench adequate. Veteran subs are Frank Giordano, Harry Zingg, Ray Wiener, Ray Kelsey and Fred Robinson. Promising rookies include Dave Rierdon, Bob Fleming, Levi Brown, Dom Parlato and Dave Brandstein.
FLIPPING PASS to cornerman at Connecticut practice session, Jack Rose demonstrates one of the many skills that put him in the front rank of all the nation's guards.