This college basketball preview is SI's sixth special issue devoted to a single sport—or, as in the case of our 534-page special preview of the 1984 L.A. Olympics—a single event. By devoting a special issue just to college basketball, we are able to give 233% more editorial space to the sport than last year, when our preview was, as had been the custom, contained in a regular issue.
When this preview was in its planning stages, senior editor John Papanek, the issue's art director, Michael Grossman, and picture researcher Eric Godwin met several times to exchange ideas for an issue-encompassing theme. The notion of using music-related images came early. Southern Cal superstar Cheryl Miller (page 124) was photographed primping for a Prince concert. Staff writer Alexander Wolff's story There's a Big Hole in the Middle (page 12) triggered a musical association for Grossman, who noted that 45-rpm, records, too, had big holes in their middles. Creative doors were flung open, and as Papanek says, "The music began to spread itself into other areas." Instead of ranking teams in a Top 20 and a Second 20, last year's format, there is a Top 40, a concept borrowed from everybody's favorite AM radio station.
The music/hoops connection seemed to work all the more because, Godwin points out, "Easily the most frequently listed hobby among college players is 'listening to music.' " Godwin, who specializes in college basketball, has spoken to plenty of the players. He and free-lance picture researcher Kyle McLellan had to surmount complex logistics and unyielding deadlines to arrange more than 50 photography sessions. They scrambled to find obscure costumes and props. "They did tremendous work," says Papanek.
For the scouting report pictures, says Grossman, "there's a Miami Vice esthetic at work...bright, electric, dramatic." Grossman, 27, is a special-projects art director for Time Inc. and came to us after 2½ years at National Lampoon. He is a grudging Miami Vice viewer—"I watch with the volume off"—whose musical tastes run to Talking Heads and Elvis Costello.
Godwin has an extensive collection of Van Morrison and Billie Holiday tapes. Papanek, an accomplished saxophonist, says, "I'll go Eurythmics with you, but don't forget Mozart or my all-time hero, John Coltrane."
You may wish to flip on the stereo before reading further.
Our trio (from left): Papanek, Grossman, Godwin.