The team that represents the Big Eight in the NCAA playoffs early next spring may well be the second best in this tough, well-balanced conference. During the last week in October the University of KANSAS was declared ineligible for postseason tournaments for the next two seasons. One of its former scholars, Wilt Chamberlain, had apparently been given an automobile by a Jayhawk alumnus (Chamberlain has called the charge "ridiculous," and in fact says "the whole NCAA is ridiculous"). Last season Kansas finished in a tie with Kansas State for the Big Eight title and later beat K-State 84-82 in a playoff game to advance to the Midwest Regional finals. Still, Kansas and Coach Dick Harp, one of the nicest guys and smartest strategists in the business, will have a lot to say this year about the Big Eight championship and a lot to say to some other schools seeking national ranking. In the first month of play Kansas meets St. John's, San Francisco and North Carolina. Forward Wayne Hightower, at 6 feet 8, was the leading scorer in the conference last season with a 21.8 average, and Center Bill Bridges, at 6 feet 5, was the league's best rebounder with 14 a game. Both are back. Guard Jerry Gardner is the third first-stringer, and there are eight other players on the roster with game experience. Butch Ellison and Dee Ketchum will split the other backcourt position, and sophomore Nolen Ellison may earn a starting guard assignment before midseason. Kansas has plenty of depth and good shooting but may be somewhat slower than usual. The knowledge that they will not be able to compete in the playoffs may affect this group's attitude on court, and this is surely Coach Harp's big problem. At KANSAS STATE, where Tex Winter has coached four Big Eight champions in the last five seasons, things are once again looking up. One big reason is Roger Suttner who, at 7 feet, is the tallest player in K-State history. Nine others are moving up with Suttner from the Wildcats' undefeated freshman team of 1959-60. These sophs average 6 feet 3 and should blend well with the eight lettermen, who average 6 feet 4. State will interchange its post to get the most effective movement out of junior Mike Wroblewski, 6 feet 8, and Cedric Price, 6 feet 6, the only senior on the team. Forwards Larry Comley and Pat McKenzie were starters at one time or another last season, but they will have to hustle to keep ahead of sophs Gary Marriott and Dave Nelson. All four of these possible starting forwards are 6 feet 5. Tex Winter's only serious problem is to develop a floor leader—often far more difficult than it appears. In any event, State has the height to get the ball from any team in the country. Coach Glen Anderson at IOWA STATE says, "We could be better this year due to added depth and experience but the other teams in our league will also be better. It will be hard to improve on our fourth-place finish of last year." Considering that the Cyclones were fundamentally a sophomore team and lost only one man (Guard Larry Fie), Anderson is certainly safe on the experience angle. Of the seven league games Iowa State lost last season, four were lost by a total of only 12 points. The 1960-61 crew includes nine players 6 feet 4 or over, topped by 6-foot-11 Terry Roberts, who will alternate with Bob Stoy in the single post. Neither has shown sufficient scoring ability, but Forward Vince Brewer, last year's top scorer (15.3), should be worth even more points with a year of play behind him. Anderson plans to give two veterans, Gary Wheeler and John Ptacek, first chance at the starting guard spots. Forward Henry Whitney, at 6 feet 7, is one of the highest jumpers in the Big Eight and, hopefully, will provide the rebounding to trigger Anderson's fast break. Iowa State is a conservative team and plays a lot of pattern basketball. The month of December should give a clear indication of State's potential, for early in that month the schedule shows Wisconsin, Wichita and Washington twice. OKLAHOMA STATE was the second-best defensive team in the nation last year, with 52.2 points per game to California's 49.5. Second best never satisfied Coach Hank Iba, and he expects improvement this time around. Last year was only the third losing season in Iba's 31 years of coaching, but much of the time was spent planning for 1961. OSU still lacks good inside shooting and consistent big men but there is good speed and excellent outside shooting. Five of Iba's lettermen were lost; five return, including his son Moe, a guard with a fine right-handed jump shot. Young Iba, however, is still recovering from a recent knee operation and probably will not play until the end of December. Some height moves up from last season's frosh team, including 6-foot-10 Center Lyle Kelly and 6-foot-8 Max Shuck, who can play either at forward or center. Don Linsenmeyer, a guard, and Ivan Wiley, a forward, will also stick with the varsity. Eddie Bunch, Cecil Epperley and David Miller will be used up front. This crew controls the ball very well, and in young Iba they have a genuine floor leader. They could jump from a tie for last place to the first division. OKLAHOMA was seventh in defense last season, giving up an average of 56.8 points per game. Unfortunately for the Sooners, however, their offensive output was hardly much better—59.7. Of the team's four top scorers only the leader, Brian Etheridge (10.4 points per game), is back. Etheridge, 6 feet 8, Connie McGuire and Darrell Hohmann, both 6 feet 7, give Oklahoma plenty of size, but only Etheridge is a capable scorer. In limited play as reserves last year McGuire averaged just 2.8 points and Hohmann only 1.6. The big noise at Norman this year will be sophomore Guard Eddie Evans, who will be the smallest starter this year in the Big Eight. Only 5 feet 9, he was an outstanding freshman with a game average of 17 points. Coach Doyle Parrack believes Evans was the equal of any of his varsity starters last season. Even if Parrack is right, however, Oklahoma doesn't seem capable of improving on last year's third-place finish. Donald Riggan, a 6-foot-9½ center, and Stan Morrison, a 6-foot-7 front-court man, give added bench strength. George Kernek and Phil Leonard are first-rate guards, but one will have to spell Evans. A bad start (four conference losses in their first eight league games) hurt the Sooners last year, but they were playing fine ball near the end of the season, winning five of their last six. Before this season began, COLORADO lost its third-leading scorer and leading floor man, Guard Stan Williams, because of scholastic deficiencies. Meanwhile, senior Roger Voss (6 feet 7) is hitting the books hard to avoid ineligibility again. Junior Wilky Gilmore led the Buffaloes in scoring last year (13.9) and in rebounding (10.6), and is looked to for leadership once more. Gene Zyada moved in to play center when Voss failed to keep up his studies, but Zyada is not a strong rebounder. Ken Charlton, Eric Lee, Milt Mueller and Ossie Carlson are sophomores who may earn starting positions. Coach Russell (Sox) Walseth's summation of his team has the ring of Madison Avenue. "We could make a real run at the championship or could finish way down the line on account of the balance league-wise." MISSOURI will be improved this year but probably not enough to challenge the leaders. Coach Sparky Stalcup has two outstanding scorers in Center Charles Henke, 6 feet 7, and Joe Scott, a 6-foot-4 guard. They averaged 37.7 points between them last year but the Tigers could win only five of 14 league games. Jackie Gilbert started some early-season games at center but fell into scholastic difficulties which were corrected during summer school. Jim Lockett and Ken Doughty, a soph, will be fighting for the privilege of playing the backcourt with Scott. Defense is the big problem here. Last season NEBRASKA'S team was involved in 10 games in which the margin of victory was five points or less. The Cornhuskers somehow managed to lose nine of them. Seven players from that team are returning, including Al Buuck, good rebounder and scorer and at 6 feet 8 the tallest player on the squad. Bernt Elle, Jim Kowalke and Jan Wall will be the forwards, unless Ivan Grupe, a soph, can make the lineup. Tommy Russell, a 6-foot-7 junior-college transfer from Independence, Kans., may help up front. At guard are Al Roots and Rex Swett. Coach Jerry Bush's team lacks experience and strength underneath but does have good outside shooting.
FLASHY FORWARD Wilky Gilmore of Colorado, shown driving in for a layup, is sure to be among the league leaders in scoring and rebounding in his second year.