Although he is a mere neophyte after six years of coaching, 37-year-old Bob Gaillard is leaving for saner pursuits, and he would love to go out the way Al McGuire did—watching his team win the NCAA title. There is a chance he will, because Gaillard's USF Dons, 29-0 last season before losing their final two games, seem to be improved. Optimism is oozing out of the gym on Golden Gate Avenue, and not even the cast on the left forearm of seven-foot junior Center Bill Cartwright dampens the spirits of the faithful.
As a sophomore, Cartwright scored a school-record 43 points against Florida State and made second-team All-America. He weighed 215 when he entered USF; now he is about 270. That makes him about as immovable as the Transamerica Building, particularly under the hoop, where he is the backstop for San Francisco's pressure man-to-man defense.
Unfortunately for the Dons, Cartwright broke his forearm in a pickup game in October. He may miss as many as five games, which should not unduly bother USF, partly because its schedule doesn't get tough until late December and partly because 6'8" James Hardy (above) is around.
Hardy, who is usually a forward but will move into the middle in Cartwright's absence, almost was not available. Normally less emotional on the court than Chris Evert, Hardy got upset and threatened to quit when Gaillard announced his retirement. He has since calmed down and is playing magnificently. Gaillard especially admires Hardy's rebounding, while other observers are taken with his outside shot. But what Hardy himself loves best are his dunks. No, dunk is too gentle a word for what he does—make that cram, stuff, slam.
The Dons' third All-America candidate is 6'6½" Winford Boynes, who sacrificed himself for the good of the team last season by playing mostly at guard, where he had fewer scoring opportunities. He will be in both the frontcourt and backcourt again this year. The apportioning of his playing time will depend on the development of Forward Doug Jemison. USF is well set at guard with Boynes, sharpshooting Rod Williams and Sam Williams, brother of pros Gus and Ray. One of them will usually be paired with Chubby Cox, who last year set two school assists records.
With that talent, Gaillard should go out a big winner. But whether his triumph will be McGuiresque may depend on just how hale and Hardy the Dons are at tournament time.