Early last season, after losing two of its first five league games, CONNECTICUT seemed almost certain to lose the title it had held for nine straight years. But the UConns swept their last five games and won the Yankee Conference championship again. This year victory will come even harder, if it comes at all. Gone are three top scorers and two leading rebounders. Of six lettermen, only Guard George Uhl, who averaged a steady 8.2 points per game, is dependable. Coach Hugh Greer will be relying on replacements who are not up to UConn standards. Sophomores Gerry Manning (6 feet 5) and Bob Haines (6 feet 7) are the tallest, but little Dale Comey probably will be the only starter among the newcomers. The team most likely to exploit the UConn's lack of size and experience is MAINE, which won 14 straight last year and tied for second. Coach Brian McCall welcomes back every one of his first five, including the best backcourt in the conference—Tom (Skip) Chappelle and Wayne Champeon. Chappelle averaged 20.7 points per game and Champeon hit for 10.8. Up front Maine has Larry Schiner and Don Sturgeon, who averaged 27 between them, and Center Jon Ingalls, a strong rebounder (9.7 per game). Four players from the undefeated (14-0) freshman team move up to the varsity. Dave Pound, only 6 feet, is a 19-point scorer. The others are Pud Robertson (16.6), Mike Burnham and Laddie Deemer. Maine has every ingredient necessary for a championship club—experience, depth, rebounding and shooting skill. The official nickname at RHODE ISLAND is "Rams," but for some time its teams have been called the Rhode Island Reds because of a tendency to run around like chickens. This year's team is the best in Coach Ernie Calverley's brief career at his alma mater, should certainly go over the .500 mark and may challenge the leaders. Four starters return from the crew that scored more points last season than any other in the Yankee Conference. Charlie Lee, who dropped out of school last year, is one of the brightest forward prospects in Rhodie history. He was the top scorer and rebounder on his freshman team. As usual, this club will operate with a fast break and a five-man weave. Gary Koenig, Dave Ricereto and Ronald Stenhouse average about 6 feet 4, which is fair size up front. Lee is also 6 feet 4 and may replace Mike Weiss as a first-line guard. The other will come from among Barry Multer, Don Lamb and Jack Anderson. If Lee survives first semester exams, Calverley will have a winner. Matt Zunic is in his second year as head coach at MASSACHUSETTS and has good reason to expect improvement on last season's fair record, though serious defensive flaws still are evident. Last year the Redmen committed an average of 22 personal fouls a game and it cost them many a victory. Four starters are among the nine returning players and they include Forward Doug Grutchfield (6 feet 4), who needs only 331 points to become the highest scorer in the school's history. Charlie Fohlin can shuttle between forward and center, depending on how 6-foot-8, 230-pound Don Black does in his first varsity year. Kirk Leslie, a forward, and Guards Mike Mole, Don Tremblay, Jim Laughnane and Dick Green all have game experience. VERMONT has lost its three top scorers from a team which won only two of 10 conference games. Three lettermen are back and are about equal in scoring—Ray Kelsey (8.8), Pete Beck (7.3) and Harry Zingg (6.6). Fuzzy Evans, UV's coach, once again is sadly in need of height and experience. Transfer student Paul Flinn can supply neither but will get a chance to play underneath. Sophomores Dick Ader and Benny Becton may get a chance as starters. Call it a rebuilding year here, NEW HAMPSHIRE has not had a winning season in the Yankee Conference in 10 years (total record: 18 won, 74 lost). Five starters are gone, and not much can be expected from last season's freshmen, whose 10-1 record was compiled against so-so opposition. Coach Bill Olson is left with only two small guards, Jack Couture (5 feet 8) and Marty Fischer (5 feet 11), and Forward John MacEachern, who is a better rebounder than scorer. Sophomores Nick Mandrevalis, Jim Rich and Bruce Hooker will be at pivot and in the corners.
THESE MAINE MEN, shown with Coach Brian McCall, have a good chance of upsetting longtime Yankee champion Connecticut, thanks to poise and experience.