Oscar Robertson is gone but the Valley still will be exhibiting some of the most exciting basketball in the country. At Oscar's school, CINCINNATI, there is no replacement for him, naturally, but new Coach Ed Jucker has a nucleus of returning starters, a flock of experienced reserves and one hotshot sophomore who may be the most valuable asset of all. He is Tom Thacker, a versatile 6-foot-2 performer who is occasionally billed as another Oscar. He will be feeding Paul Hogue, a 6-foot-9 junior center who averaged 12 points and 11 rebounds a game last year. He is not quick, but he is strong. The other two veteran starters are Bob Wiesenhahn up front and Carl Bouldin in the backcourt. Among the reserves, Sandy Pomerantz has shown the most promise as a front-court starter. Backcourt alternates are Jim Calhoun and Tom Sizer. BRADLEY, whose coach, Chuck Orsborn, is pretty sick of Cincinnati's dominance, has the material to challenge the best in the nation. Back with him is Chet Walker, 6 feet 6, who averaged 22 points a game last year. If Orsborn can teach him some deception he will be an All-America. Also returning are Al Saunders, Mack Herndon and Ed Wodka. As usual, Bradley had an outstanding (13-2) freshman team last year, and Center (6 feet 9) Walt Gerard and Forward Tim Robinson bring averages of 23 and 21 points up to the varsity. The Billikens of ST. LOUIS face as tough a schedule as any school in the nation (Kentucky, Ohio State, Louisville and St. John's, in addition to the rest of the MVC). Fortunately, Coach John Benington has most of last year's starters back, including Bob Nordmann, who stands 6 feet 10. Bob's brother Bill, a mere 6 feet 7, is coming up to the varsity, along with Donnell Reid and Dave Harris. Also available are returnees Glenn Mankowski and George Latinovich in the backcourt, Tom Kieffer and Gordon Hartweger up front. WICHITA has been 14-12 in four of the past five years but this season will do far better. Coach Ralph Miller's high-scoring guards, Ron Heller and Lanny Van Eman (13.7 and 13.5 points respectively last season), are two of eight lettermen returning. Heller will move up front this season to work with either 6-foot-7 Wayne Durham or 6-foot-5 John Gales. But the key man is Gene Wiley, who was out much of last season with leg injuries. He is 6 feet 10, could become an outstanding post man. Competing for the other guard spot are veterans Virgil Brady and John Cleveland and newcomers Jerry Kittiko and Ernie Moore. Since joining the league in 1956, DRAKE has been over the .500 mark only once, and may not make it this time either. Coach Maurice John has a first-rate guard in Jim Guydon and high hopes for junior-college transfers Marvin Torrence and Jerry Foster. Elsewhere there are problems, possibly to be solved by starting Forward Harold Ayers and newcomers Bill Hahn and Dave Reed. Torrence was a 33-point scorer last year at Grand View in Des Moines. TULSA is also in for a difficult season even though three experienced starters are available to new Coach Joe Swank. Dave Voss, at 6 feet 5½, is the tallest man on the squad. Adam Popielarcheck, Gene Estes, Jerry Maloy, Floyd Huffnes and Bill Lucas are the lettermen and James King and Gary Hevelone the best from a freshman team with an 11-2 record. Five junior-college transfers may help NORTH TEXAS STATE and second-year Coach Charles Johnson. Bill McLaughlin and Tommy Grissom are the only two lettermen returning. The rest of the squad are either freshmen moving up or transfers moving in. Dwaine Riney, Bill Magers and Zack Hayes lead the sophomores, and Art Fiste, Artie Dixon, Larry Cruise the transfers. HOUSTON, which dropped out of the conference and plays as an independent this season, has two potential All-Americas in 6-foot-3 Guard Gary Phillips and 6-foot-6 Forward Ted Luckenbill. Coach Guy Lewis plays a basic MVC schedule and must rely on a sophomore at center, 6-foot-8 Lyle Harger.
BEEFY REBOUNDER Walt Gerard (35) gives Bradley Coach Chuck Orsborn (right) added power and scoring punch under the backboards, perhaps enough to win title.