The championship of the Skyline Conference has eluded UTAH STATE for 22 years, but this season it appears that the Aggies, with a little bit of luck, will win at last. Coach Cecil Baker has more depth, which will help, although Baker is a man who likes to stick with his starters. Three of the four top scorers from a 1959-60 team good enough to receive a National Invitational Tournament bid have returned—Cornell Green, Tyler Wilbon and Max Perry. Green and Wilbon (each is 6 feet 4) will function at forward (Wilbon was the Skyline's shortest center last year), and the slick and speedy Perry again will be the floor general. Aside from being the highest scorer in the Skyline (21.2 average), Green was also its second best rebounder (13.9 average). Transfers Charlie Walker and Darnel Haney, 6 feet 5 and 6 feet 8 respectively, both averaged 21 points a game in junior college and one will start at pivot. Letterman Gilbert Walker and sophomore Don Holman are each capable of playing the other backcourt position. UTAH'S chances of winning an unprecedented third straight title were severely hurt by the automobile accident in August which caused a compound fracture of Allen Holmes' right leg. He is a fine playmaker. Dapper Coach Jack Gardner must rely heavily on Billy McGill, the 6-foot-9 center who averaged 15.5 points a game last season as a sophomore. McGill, though erratic, has the potential to be one of the best players in the nation, and he worked hard during the summer on his hooks and pivots. But Rich Ruffell, Joe Morton and Jim Rhead are going to have to shoot often and well to make up for the loss of Holmes. The Redskins rolled up an offensive average of 83.5 points per game last year and were one of three teams able to beat top-ranked Ohio State. However, Utah did not have a strong freshman team, and 6-foot-6 Larry Arrick and 6-foot-2 Bob Cozby appear to be the only sophs who will play regularly. Ed Rowe and Bo Crane, a pair of 6-foot-2 junior-college transfers, will take turns in Holmes' vacant spot up front. WYOMING Coach Bill Strannigan's first year as head man at his old alma mater was hardly a success. Bob Steckman and Bill Nelson have returned, but the first unit this year will be composed of four transfer students and a sophomore. Center Alan Eastland is 6 feet 8 and led the frosh team with a 21-point average; Forwards Ron Bostick, 6 feet 3, and Maynard Lang, 6 feet 4, are both fast; Guards Earl Nau and Curtis Jimerson are good dribblers and outside shooters. Wyoming will use the new talent to make its fast break even speedier. Steckman and Nelson, the holdovers from 1959-60, will be used as spot players, BRIGHAM YOUNG and Coach Stan Watts spent most of last season rebuilding, and only Gary Earnest and hook-shooting Dave Eastis are sure starters. The two averaged 32.7 points a game between them and grabbed half of BYU's rebounds. Timo Lampen, a Finn who sat out last season, will be a starting forward. Gary Batchelor and Ron Steinke are good guards. Bruce Burton and Bob Inglis have the height (6 feet 5 and 6 feet 11) but still need experience. There is one thing decidedly against the Cougars and that is one of the heaviest schedules in a single month that any school will play. Ten games plus a tournament are lined up for the month of December. COLORADO STATE Coach Jim Williams is building an entire new front line because of the departure of Chuck Newcomb, Larry Hoffner and Tony Reales. Sophomore Bill Green (6 feet 5) will help Lyle Hunsaker, Ollie Watts and Jack Omdahl in the front court. The Aggies are set at the guard positions, with Manny Lawrence (9.3 average) and Jim Turner (7.0 average), and they have fond hopes for several sophomores. MONTANA'S three returning starters, four experienced reserves and seven sophomores give Coach Forrest Cox a solid nucleus this year. The club has improved rebounding with Duane Ruegsegger and Daniel Sullivan, both 6 feet 6, and Center Steve Lowry, 6 feet 7. It will be up to these three to provide aggressive board strength, and if they do Montana should be able to work its way into the middle of the Skyline tangle. Ray Lucien, at 5 feet 10, is a fine shooter, pairs at guard with vet Ron Quilling, NEW MEXICO has its entire starting team back, led by the Skyline's leading rebounder, 6-foot-3 Tom King, and its third-leading scorer, Francis Grant. Coach Bob Sweeney is high on junior-college transfer Ben Brooks, a 6-foot-5 forward or center. Lanny Winters and Bernie Brummell give New Mexico an ample backcourt. The team could jump to fourth place this season. DENVER Coach Hoyt Brawner believes his team will perk up once his six sophomores gain experience. Bob Moe, Rick Barrett and Bob Grinstead, out most of last season with injuries, are the best of six returning. Grinstead, at 6 feet 7, is the equal of any pivot man in the conference except McGill. Tim Vezie and Dennis Hodge, both sophs, will also start.
HOOK-SHOOTING Billy McGill leads Utah's drive for a third straight title.