In the past five years Ned Wulk's fast-break teams have won Arizona State a field house full of fans who didn't care how stiff their necks got watching the hectic action, plus inestimable numbers of games from dazzled opponents who couldn't keep up. This season Wulk wants his players to move even faster. He now has them working on the bobbing, weaving, feinting and jabbing motions of boxers on the theory that they can increase hand speed as well as foot speed. Rival coaches can only hope his theory is all wrong.
The Sun Devils are going to be fast enough in any event. Gone from last year's 23-4 team is leading playmaker and scorer, Larry Armstrong, and the most accurate shooter, Jerry Hahn. But the returnees and new faces should make up for the losses.
There is Center Tony Cerkvenik, a 6-foot-4 monster known as Horse, an unexcelled rebounder who starts many of Arizona State's fast breaks by whipping the ball down the floor while his fuddled opponents are still trying for the long-gone rebound. The targets of his passes will include an experienced guard, Raul Disarufino, who is expected to do more scoring this year as well as handle the opposition's toughest man, and Dennis Dairman, a new addition to the Sun Devils' backcourt. Sophomore Dairman, who is 6 feet 5, averaged 23 points a game as a freshman, then broke his collarbone and had to sit out a year. An excellent shot, he should be a constant scoring threat in the scrambled Wulk offense that will not only fast break, but when that fails will try to score at once before the opponents can get set.
Returning, too, are Art Becker, who entered school at 6 feet 4 and is now three inches taller, and Joe Caldwell, who is still 6 feet 5 but is a fantastic jumper. He can snatch the ball down from 10 feet 6 inches on the ingenious rebounding machine used by Wulk. But State's hopes rest with Becker, an accurate outside shot who must learn to mix it up underneath in order to give the team some needed front court height. Wulk's team has only one objective: to lure opponents into trying to run with them. Those that try it are going to be left far, far behind.
Kansas State, at Lawrence, Kans., Dec. 15
Wichita, at Wichita, Dec. 17
Minnesota, at Arizona Slate, Dec. 22