THE CHOICE...SANTA CLARA
There is top-to-bottom balance in this league where ball-control tactics and emphasis on defense make for close games anyway, SANTA CLARA led the nation in defense last year, allowing only 48.7 points per game, and the Broncos should be just as tough to score against this year, too. Bob Feerick is the only coach in the conference who still advocates the zone defense, and he has five tall starters back to run it. He also has Bob Garibaldi, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, who was an All-America high school quarterback, is a baseball bonus prospect as a pitcher and plays basketball at that level, too. He will be part of Feerick's "figure 8" offense up front, in an average 6-foot-7 forward wall made up of Gene Shields, Leroy Jackson and Joe Weiss. They are solidly backed by Guards Ron McGee and Barry Cristina. If there is a flaw here, it is lack of speed.
Loyola's defending champions also have a most promising sophomore moving up. He's Detroit Flanagan, an agile and fast 6-foot-3 guard, who joins four starters from the best team in Lion history—All-Coast Forward Ed Bento, All-Conference Guard Jerry Grote (who moves to forward), Guard Brian Quinn and Forward Tony Krallman. Loyola's only apparent weakness is lack of height, which will prove especially damaging in games against Santa Clara.
Every team in the league but Santa Clara shares this problem, including rapidly recovering SAN FRANCISCO. The Dons have been rated everywhere from first to last this year by rival coaches, who may be puzzled by the team's shifting fortunes in personnel. Two starters have been lost because of illness and poor grades, but last year's top rebounder, Ed Thomas, may regain his academic eligibility at midseason. Two high-scoring sophomores, Jim Brovelli and Dave Lee, probably will be regulars now, joining ex-Guard Lloyd Moffatt and Bob Ralls. Coach Pete Peletta teaches the highly disciplined game that has been the hallmark of SF teams for more than a decade. His prize pupil this year is an All-Conference guard, Bob Gaillard. The whole squad should get plenty of experience during a December eastern swing against Providence, Canisius and Detroit.
St. Mary's has lost Tom Meschery, which means most of its rebounding. The other four starters, all quite capable young men, but short, have returned. Coach Jim Weaver's best percentage shooters are two 6-foot-4 front liners, Steve Grey and Hamilton Holmes. Sophomore Dennis Schreiner will handle the third spot there and the guards will again be Vurdell Newsome and Tom Sheridan.
San Jose State finally fought its way out of the cellar last year and, like most of its rivals, has substantially the same squad ready once more. Coach Stu Inman's chief assets are bench strength and an improved defense. He gets added support from 6-foot-8 sophomore Harry Edwards, but loses 6-foot-6 starter Joe Braun at midyear when Braun completes his eligibility. High-jump star Vance Barnes and juniors Dennis Bates and Bill Yonge are seasoned regulars but the squad could use more firepower.
Pepperdine has a flock of newcomers and its whole front line from last year. The vacated guard posts will be handled by Lee Tinsley, who sat out last year; Bobby Matthews, who transferred from Oklahoma State; and Bob Warlick, a junior-college All-America last year at Pueblo JC, who spent his freshman year at Denver University. Coach Duck Dowell's leading scorers are Noel Smith, Harry Dinnell and Tim Tift up front. Experience will improve a so-so defense, but nothing can be done about the lack of height.
Newly renamed UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC can hardly help but improve and appears to have the sophomores—seven of them—to do so. The spectacular scoring of All-Conference Guard Ken Stanley, whose 24-point output is more than entire teams sometimes produce in this area, is the obvious big plus. The chief weakness, defense, should be relieved by the rebounding of 6-foot-7 sophomore Leo Middleton and his 6-foot-4 classmate Charles Strambler. Coach Van Sweet will team sophomore Jack Schalow with Stanley in the backcourt and test several regulars at the other forward position. He is hoping his outside shooting holds up and that overall inexperience doesn't hurt too much while the team is learning the subtleties of a tough defense.
MISSION SANTA CLARA frames three of the Broncos' best (from left), Bob Garibaldi, Gene Shields and Ron McGee.