Normally dominant Louisville will struggle, unless senior guard LaBradford Smith can make the second major adjustment of his career. When Smith arrived at Louisville from Bay City, Texas, he was the sort of player whose eyes focused on the points column when he studied the box score. Smith had to learn to give up the ball in coach Denny Crum's selfless offensive scheme, and while the change didn't come easily to the flashy Smith, he is already the Cardinals' alltime assists leader, with 566 in three seasons. "That shows you the progress he's made," says Crum.
If the Cards are to come anywhere near their accustomed level of success, the 6'3" Smith will have to shift gears and become a scorer again. Smith shouldn't have much trouble beefing up his 12.7 career scoring average; he has the talent either to slash down the lane or nail the trey. But is he strong enough and mature enough to carry the load? Crum is counting on him. "LaBradford is our leader, the guy that all the other kids look up to," says Crum. "He's the one that we'll have to go to when we need something special."
Memphis State finds itself in the same boat as Louisville. Elliott Perry, he of the bug-eyed goggles and waterbug moves, will also have new responsibilities. Perry will play point guard when he is paired with 6'5" Billy Smith, who was academically ineligible last season. However, when coach Larry Finch replaces Smith with junior playmaker Tony Madlock, Perry will move to shooting guard.
The Metro has a couple of lame-duck up-and-comers in Florida State and South Carolina, which will join the ACC and SEC, respectively, next season. At Florida State, the arrival of 6'1" juco star Derrick Myers was all but lost in the excitement over 6'9" Doug Edwards, who was one of the nation's top recruits two years ago but sat out 1989-90 as an academic casualty. South Carolina coach George Felton welcomes back four juniors who started on last season's emerging 14-14 team.
At Virginia Tech, explosive Bimbo Coles is finally gone—he was there for 14 years, wasn't he?—and coach Frankie Allen doesn't have much firepower left. Tech will be hard-pressed to keep from succeeding Tulane in the league's cellar. Thanks largely to Anthony Reed, a 6'9" forward who was the 1990 Metro Freshman of the Year, and explosive Michael Christian, the league's third-leading scorer last season, the Green Wave should improve upon last season's 4-24 record.
FOR THE CARDS TO FLY, SMITH HAS TO HAVE THE RIGHT STUFF