THE CHOICE...WAKE FOREST
Bones McKinney, the coach at WAKE FOREST by vocation and a Baptist preacher by avocation, usually maintains a wary Old Testament view of the future. So when he admits to being "very optimistic" he is actually suggesting that nothing but Divine intervention is likely to keep his Deacons from their second straight conference championship. Four starters are back on the team that went to the NCAA quarterfinals. The best of them is mighty All-America prospect Len Chappell, whose 26.6 points a game was tops in the conference, and whose 393 rebounds keyed the Wake Forest defense. This season Chappell and his unbelievable shooting eye are being moved to forward, a bold shift, and 6-foot-11 Bob Woollard steps in at center. At the other forward is a broad-shouldered football end, Bill Hull, who sweeps in the few rebounds Chappell misses and shoots at a .553 clip. The guards are last year's little veterans, Billy Packer, an All-Conference standout, and Dave Wiedeman. The best of four sophomores is 6-foot-5 Forward Richard Carmichael. McKinney's only worry is depth at the guard positions. It's a modest worry.
This is a rebuilding year at DUKE, but the Blue Devils rebuild fast and hard. Last season Vic Bubas came up with one of the best sophomores in the country, hard-driving Art Hey man. This year another sophomore, Jeff Mullins, who is nearly as good, will play forward with Heyman. Fred Kast and sophomore Jay Buckley (6 feet 10) will share the center. Still another sophomore, Buzz Harrison, and Fred Schmidt are the best bets at guard until Playmaker Jack Mullen is eligible again at midterm. A young team, Duke may be a year away.
There isn't a star at MARYLAND but there is a lot of experience and muscle. Jerry Greenspan, the 6-foot-7 forward who led the team in scoring and rebounding in the half of the season he played last year, is available again, along with starters Bruce Kelleher and Paul Jelus. Bob Eicher, a guard, and Bill Stasiulatis, a forward, will also hold the starting positions they won a season ago. Height is a serious problem.
In response to the basketball scandals, which touched them both, NORTH CAROLINA STATE and NORTH CAROLINA are playing a cut-down schedule of 16 games, with no action between December 12 and January 6. "What are we going to do with these boys for four weeks?" moans State's Coach Everett Case. He has a pretty good team to keep busy with scrimmages. It could be especially strong in the second half of the season when accurate Ken Rohloff may join jump-shooter Jon Speaks at guard. Russ Marvel, 6 feet 6, will get competition at center from a 6-foot-9 sophomore, Ron Gossell, while John Punger is the best of a large group of forwards. In his first year as head coach at Carolina, where he succeeds Frank McGuire, young Dean Smith saw a potentially good team decimated when four players could not meet academic standards. This leaves it all up to a handful of returnees, of whom Jim Hudock, a polished 6-foot-7 center, is the best. Both guards, Larry Brown and Don Walsh, are small, and a slightly larger sophomore, Mike Cooke, 6 feet 2, may help against tall foes. Dieter Krause and Harry Jones complete a forecourt that averages 6 feet 6. Personnel limitations, dictate a slower, more patterned offense than that normally associated with Carolina.
South Carolina, gradually getting used to a perpetual-motion offense brought from Michigan State by Coach Bob Stevens, is much improved. Excellent speed overcomes the lack of a big man, and flashy Forward Art Whisnant could top his last year's 19.1 scoring rate. Two starting guards return, foul-shot ace Scotti Ward and Bob Robinson. The major weakness is lack of height, with 6-foot-6 Center Dave Prevoznik the biggest man.
Clemson has only one starter from last season, 6-foot-7 Forward Tom Mahaffey, after losing All-ACC Guard Choppy Patterson through injuries suffered in an auto accident. But the sophomores have size and potential. Four may start: Center Donnie Mahaffey (6 feet 8, and a brother of Tom), Forward Gary Burnisky (6 feet 6) and Guards Jim Brennan and Mike Bohonak.
Virginia has found a 6-foot-10 center prospect in sophomore Rich Katstra, but its only exceptional player is a short one, 6-foot-1 Tony Laquintano. Other starters back from last year are Forwards Ron Miller and Gene Engel, and Guard Jack Hasbrouck.
DEMONSTRATIVE DEACON Bones McKinney, surrounded at a tense moment by student aides, will have more joy than anguish this season as he coaches his best Wake Forest team.