George Ireland is a calm man. While his Loyola team flails away at opponents' baskets, he contemplates the action serenely. And when the urge comes to leap up and shake a fist at erring officials or slovenly players—like in the old days—he remembers with a twinge the terrible pains that used to grip his stomach. Coaches are an excitable lot, either by nature or circumstance, but doctors have left Ireland no recourse. "I've just got to stay calm," he says.
With four starters and the sixth man back from a team that scored more points per game than any other major college in the country (90.2), Loyola's record (23-4 last season) and Ireland's stomach should hold up well.
Ireland's best tranquilizer is an under-size senior forward, 6-foot-3 Jerry Hark-ness. The fastest man on a team that depends most of all on speed, he averaged slightly more than 21 points a game last season. Harkness' footwork, ball handling and an unerring push shot enable him to give away inches and still beat his opponent.
But Loyola's terrific scoring comes from no single source. Baskets can be poured in at a frightening rate by the entire team. The two biggest men on the front line, 6-foot-6 Forward Vic Rouse and 6-foot-7 Center Les Hunter, are constant scoring threats who also give the team some of the forecourt muscle it needs.
Last year's top guard, Mike Gavin, graduated, but Ireland has no shortage of backcourt speedsters. He will start 6-foot-2 Ron Miller and 5-foot-10 John Egan. They are both experienced and tenacious and will keep the pressure on the opposition with Loyola's traditional all-court press. The sixth and seventh men—"seven men make up my first squad," says Ireland—will be sophomores, Center Billy Smith, 6 feet 5, and Guard Paul (Pablo) Robertson.
Loyola will run and win and Ireland will rest and all will go well until the Ramblers come up against a very tall team that can control the boards. When this happens Loyola's scoring tempo will drop and the Ramblers could be in trouble. It won't happen often, however.
Bowling Green, at Bowling Green, Feb. 16
Houston, at Houston, Feb. 23
Wichita, at Chicago Stadium, March 2