Consider the situation of Coach John Benington: so many good players he is seriously considering platooning them if he "can think of three catchy names"; seven returning lettermen; nine players standing 6 feet 5 or more; 9 good sophomores. Such prospects would make most coaches rapturous. The trouble is that St. Louis is in the Missouri Valley Conference and so is Cincinnati. "We could win in any other conference in the country," says Benington, "but we'll have trouble finishing second in this one." He is quite right.
Benington is serious about platooning this season, though it has never been done by a major college team. He may even have a different style of play for each unit. "We might try a double pivot with one combination, a high post with another and a pressing defense with the third," he says.
St. Louis has two experienced forwards, 6-foot-4 Donnell Reid, last year's most valuable Billiken, and 6-foot-5 junior Stan Luechtefeld. Reid is a sure starter, but Benington may use transfer Bill Nordmann (6 feet 7 and 230 pounds) to add heft and height to the front line. Also looking good is sophomore Richard Naes.
Not a great player, 6-foot-8 Center Garry Garrison is a good, big, strong one. He was a sophomore sensation—for two games. Then the other clubs discovered he could be blocked at the baseline. But he seems to have regained his confidence and will start. Another center comes to Coach Benington courtesy of Mrs. Benington. She discovered 6-foot-10 Gil Beckmeier hauling groceries at the local A&P, rushed home with the news, and Beckmeier moved from canned goods to forecourt.
With all this front-line muscle, St. Louis still has guards. The best is John Smith, a 6-foot junior who is an excellent ball handler. He shoots well from outside and is a determined defender. The next best is Dave Harris.
With only three seniors and a bunch of sophomores, it may take part of the season for the Billikens to get going. But they should be murderous by January when the newcomers will have learned the rugged ways of varsity competition.
Kentucky, at St. Louis, Dec. 31
Cincinnati, at Cincinnati, Feb. 2
Cincinnati, at St. Louis, March 2