Guy V. Lewis must be getting a chuckle over what's happening in the Southwest Conference. During all those winters when Lewis was tossing his polka-dot towel and dominating the league at Houston with his Phi Slamma Jamma front line, he was also being ripped for having teams that some of his colleagues called "undisciplined." Well, now the conference is dotted with chapters of Houston's most famous fraternity.
Arkansas, Texas and Houston, now in the capable hands of Pat Foster, all hope to play the go-go game well enough to receive invitations to the NCAA tournament and even contend for the conference's first national title. Only Nolan Richardson's Razorbacks seem to have all the necessary weapons.
At TEXAS, second-year coach Tom Penders will try to build on last season's amazing turnaround. Scoring went from 70.7 points a game in 1987-88 to 94.3, and the Longhorns' record from 16-13 to 25-9. This season Penders will surprise no one, but he has a couple of exciting newcomers in 6'7" juco transfer Locksley Collie and 6'8" freshman Guillermo Myers.
Under Lewis, HOUSTON was among the pioneers in recruiting foreign players. The premier member of Phi Slamma Jamma was Akeem Olajuwon of Lagos. Nigeria. Fittingly, then, the Cougars' most interesting new faces belong to 6'9" Carl Herrera, a juco from Venezuela who averaged 25.5 points and 13.2 rebounds in 1988-89, and Alvaro Teheran of Colombia, who brought his 14.6 scoring average across town when Houston Baptist dropped basketball. Center Kelvin Smith, out last season with a knee injury, has recovered, but he'll have to beat out two 7-footers to regain his status as a starter.
Of the others, TEXAS A & M figures to have the best chance at being a spoiler, thanks mainly to a couple of 6'10" additions in juco transfer David Harris and Chris Finley, a redshirt freshman. TCU, which finished eighth in the conference two years ago, rose to third in 1988-89, coach Moe Iba's second season. The Horned Frogs will again depend on a strong inside game led by 6'10" Reggie Smith and 6'6" Craig Sibley. RICE, which hasn't had a winning season since 1971, is pinning its hopes on 5'9" D'Wayne Tanner.
At SMU, which has one of the conference's best all-around players in forward John Colborne, coach John Shumate hopes his second season will be happier than the first, when injuries led to a disappointing 13-16 record. TEXAS TECH coach Gerald Myers has suffered back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in his 18½ years, but he added nine new players, including five juco transfers. That should keep the Red Raiders out of the cellar, which will be occupied by BAYLOR, winner of only five games in 1988-89.
How frustrating was last season for the Bears" diminutive coach, Gene (cousin of Moe) Iba? During a home game against SMU, he shoved the 6'9" Shumate in an argument that followed an incident in which the Baylor timekeeper threw ice onto the floor to draw attention to the fact that the clock wasn't working. Then after a loss at TCU, he ran his players through a midnight practice that night. The Bears won't sleep much this season, either.