THE CHOICE...COLORADO STATE
This will be the final season of competition for the Skyline Conference as it is now constituted. Since co-champion COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY is one of those not invited to join the new league, the Aggies would dearly love to win clear title to the championship the last time around. CSU's peppery Coach Jim Williams can count on a tall pair of experienced reserves, three promising newcomers, and three returning starters. Bill Green, 6-foot-6 All-Conference forward made 51% of his shots and almost 18 points a game last year as a sophomore, and there are three strong guards in Manny Lawrence, whose 14-point average brought him All-Conference honors, too, starter Jim Olander and transfer Don Abbott. More point production up front must come from 6-foot-9 Wynn Hoffman and 6-foot-5 Jack Omdahl. If it doesn't, sophomores Dave Sigafoos, 6 feet 9, and Bill Ellis, 6 feet 4, will be used.
After three years in first place, UTAH has fewer returning regulars than at any time since Coach Jack Gardner arrived in 1953. But Gardner does have 6-foot-9 Billy McGill, who should be a first-team All-America this year. Starting Guard Ed Rowe is joined by a junior-transfer, Tom Farrell, whose rapid development gives the Utes a solid backcourt, but there are problems in the corners. Allen Holmes, an outstanding forward two years ago, has not recovered from the broken leg he suffered in an automobile accident and is out for the season. Two active reserves who averaged only 4.4 points apiece, 6-foot-5 Joe Aufderheide and Bo Crain (who has been shifted from guard), will start.
Brigham Young Coach Stan Watts finally has a team not weakened by the loss of players who leave school for two-year missions with the Mormon church. On the contrary, one such missionary, 6-foot-5 Forward Bob Skousen, has just returned and appears to have retained the shooting ability that gave him a 17.7 scoring average in 1959. Additional scoring, speed and experience are provided by returning starters Bruce Burton and Jim Kelson at forward and Gary Batchelor and Bob Wilson at guard.
Denver, which has a habit of looking better on paper than on the court, looks better than ever—on paper. The Pioneers have excellent depth, lack only a tall center to help such high-scoring regulars as Forward Tim Vezie (16) and Guard Dennis Hodge (14.3). Coach Hoyt Brawner hopes to solve his post problem with 6-foot-6 Bill Mumma, whose vacated forward position goes to 6-foot-5 transfer Ted Oglesby. Guard Dick Mohrman's starting status has been usurped by speedy Bob Moe.
Utah State's highly rated team inexplicably fell to pieces last year, and prospects are much worse this season. The team lacks depth, experience and height. New Coach LaDell Andersen will try to design his offense to provide every possible shooting opportunity for his one big asset, 6-foot-4 senior Cornell Green. A 20-point scorer and good rebounder, Green was the Skyline's MVP as a sophomore and made its all star team again last year. Center Darnel Haney and Guard Don Holman are the only other reasonably sure regulars.
Montana has only two big men, 6-foot-7 Steve Lowry and 6-foot-6 Dan Sullivan, but a number of good little men give Coach Frosty Cox hope for another fair season. In fact, Lowry, who averaged 14.2 points, and Sullivan (12.9) were outscored by 5-foot-9 Guard Bob O'Billovich, whose 14.3 output led the squad. Another 5-foot-9 scooter, Ray Lucien, returns at guard, while the other forward job is still open.
New Mexico is tall enough (6-foot-4 average), deep enough (thanks to newcomers) and experienced enough (three returning starters), to make a first-division finish possible. Center R. Clayborn Jones, a transfer, and Forward Francis Grant need rebounding help and may get it from 6-foot-6 sophomore Forward Mike Lucero and 6-foot-5 senior Francis Coffee. The Lobos' best player, Guard Joe McKay, will direct the single-post offense with junior Michael Dietmeier.
Wyoming brings back five regulars with an average height of more than 6 feet 4, but several may give way to newcomers. Transfer Guard Ron Long is a likely starter because of his playmaking ability. Coach Bill Strannigan also expects sophomore Forward Jim Dalton to bolster his guard-center scoring combination of Curt Jimerson (11.6) and Al Eastland (10.7).
A HOT SHOOTER in a cool setting, Colorado State's Bill Green (right) walks with Guard Jim Olander and Diana Kelting.