THE CHOICE...BOWLING GREEN
The balance of power shifts rapidly in this conference, so it will not come as much of a shock to any but the rankest outsider to learn that BOWLING GREEN has an excellent chance of rising from a three-way tie for last place in 1961 to a championship in 1962. Although the Falcons will not go unchallenged, their credentials are impressive—ranging from a 6-foot 10-inch center named Nate Thurmond to a deadeye sophomore, Howard Komives, whose accurate, left-handed long shots should loosen up rivals enough for Thurmond to do well in close. A total of nine lettermen, including starters Elijah Chatman, Bob Dawson and Lyle Pepin, should make Coach Harold Anderson's 20th season an especially pleasant one. Anderson's chief problem, the lack of another good rebounder to help Thurmond (who was second-best in the nation last year with 18.7 per game), appears to have been solved by the addition of 6-foot-4 Bob Carbaugh, a junior transfer from rival Kent State. Bowling Green has excellent depth to back up an experienced starting lineup, good outside shooting and the poise that is so valuable for any would-be champion.
Ohio University took the title away from Bowling Green two years ago and then surprised everyone by winning three overtime games plus three others by two points or less on the way to a second championship last year. Coach Jim Snyder has lost his two top scorers, but 6-foot-8 Center Stacy Bunton and Guards Bill Whaley and Dave Katz are a strong enough nucleus to keep OU in serious contention once more, if Bunton, a junior, can increase his 8.1 scoring output. While the backcourt is solid, the corner posts are manned by green, though promising, youngsters. Two sophomores, 6-foot-3 Jerry Jackson and 6-foot-5 Paul Storey, will replace the team's former scoring leaders, Larry Kruger (18.6) and Bunk Adams (18.2).
After two successive seasons as bridesmaid of the MAC, TOLEDO hopes for a less frustrating fate this year. The Rockets have the best depth in their history, thanks to a flock of outstanding sophomores, but they are shy of experienced upperclassmen. Larry Jones, a spindly, springy junior, is the best of the veterans, with his 18-point scoring average and his fine rebounding. He and Guard Ralph Lewis (9.7 average) should start. It is the newcomers, however, who make Coach Eddie Melvin smile when he thinks of prospects for next year. They include Ray Wolford, 6 feet 6 and 220 pounds, who twice made the All-Ohio high school team, Ralph Kreidel, a 6-foot-7 All-Kentucky product, Dennis Pawlecki, a likely starter at guard who was red-shirted last winter, and three 6-foot-5 front liners, Bill McHale (injured last season), John Bail and Ernie Fortney.
Marshall is starting the difficult climb back from its worst two seasons in the past quarter century. Although Coach Jule Rivlin has six lettermen returning, he does not count experience among his team's strong points. Instead, he looks for sophomores to unseat some of last year's regulars. The pattern offense will again revolve around 6-foot-8 Bob Burgess, who averaged more than 14 points and 14 rebounds per game last winter. Mickey Sydenstricker (11.0 average) and Phil Carter (7.2) stand the best chance of retaining their roles as starters. Sophomores Larry Williams (6 feet 8), Jerry Morrison (6 feet 3), Paul Clark and John Sword add some good shooting to a team with enviable depth but not enough speed.
Western Michigan, which has been trying to pull itself out of the second division, will also make extensive use of sophomores. A half dozen regulars are back but they helped compile only a so-so record. Coach Don Boven will lose about 19 points a game when 6-foot-10 Bob Bolton departs at midyear, but an equivalent output may be sitting on the bench in the person of 5-foot-9 sophomore Manny Newsome, an excellent shooter. Starters Ron Emerick and Tom Woodruff will get rebounding help from sophomores Dave Darby, Bill Street and Mike Boedy.
Miami has another year to go on one of those losing spells that sooner or later humbles all good teams. Coach Dick Shrider has lost three starters with a combined average of 49 points per game, and this is the year he takes his team on the road for visits with the likes of Kentucky, Cincinnati and Iowa. Center Dave Mack (6 feet 6) and Guard LeVern Benson, a 12-point scorer, will get some support from sophomores Trip Bosart (6 feet 7) and Bob Moon (6 feet 5), but the most charitable thing that can be said of the once-mighty Redskins is that they are rebuilding.
Kent State's new Coach Bob Doll has inherited a tall, inexperienced team with a last-place tradition. What thin hopes do exist rest on the very broad shoulders of versatile Center Harvey Hunt (6 feet 6 and 240 pounds). He is backed by Guard Dennis Klug and sophomores Bob Coen, Tyler Saunders and Leroy Pintar.
REBOUND-SNATCHING Nate Thurmond may power Bowling Green to a league title.