The Southwest Conference's final season unofficially began last
summer when a crew of SWC all-stars was left stranded on a
sidewalk in Guadalajara at the end of a tour of Mexico. How
appropriate for a league that has seemingly been forgotten on
the Division I scene.
A bus arrived for the players at four the next morning, but fans
of SWC teams won't get rescued until 1996, when the league
disbands and its teams scatter to seek prestige in the Big Eight
(soon to be Big 12), the WAC and Conference USA.
Texas Tech forward Jason Sasser stood at the curbside that
evening feeling much as he had when the Red Raiders failed to
get an NCAA tournament bid despite being '94-95 SWC co-champs
with Texas. But the Red Raiders don't intend to be forgotten
again: With three starters returning, they see no reason why
they can't keep the final SWC banner all to themselves. Says
Sasser, who averaged 20.1 points and 7.8 boards last year, "Now
we're not satisfied with sharing the title.''
Texas won't give it over easily. Coach Tom Penders compensated
for the loss of four starters with his best-ever recruiting
class. Highly touted guard Kris Clack and junior Reggie Freeman
replace Roderick Anderson and Terrence Rencher, the SWC's
alltime leading scorer, to create a less experienced but more
At TCU, Kurt Thomas, the nation's leading scorer and rebounder,
is gone to the NBA, but coach Billy Tubbs's up-tempo attack
remains. The Horned Frogs were the highest-scoring team in
Division I, and Tubbs has three starters back, including
sophomore guard Juan Bragg, named the SWC Newcomer of the Year
by the AP.
An ultimatum delivered by Houston forward Tim Moore to coach
Alvin Brooks last March could key the Cougars' season. "I said
that if he doesn't get a center, then I'm entering the NBA
draft,'' said Moore, who averaged 20.1 points last year. So
Brooks wisely signed 6'8", 270-pound Anthony Knox and Adrian
Taylor--at 7'2" and 360 pounds, the largest player in Cougar
history--to complement Moore and senior forward Kirk Ford.
At Rice, senior guard Tommy McGhee needs to pick up where he
left off at the end of a 15-13 season, when he averaged 25.5
points in two SWC tournament games. But there is little in the
way of support, and starting forward Jesse Cravens (12.8 points,
5.7 rebounds) is questionable after back surgery.
Baylor coach Harry Miller will be watching the development of
both his son Roddrick, a sophomore who is expected to start at
guard, and 6'10" sophomore shot blocker extraordinaire Brian
Skinner (69 blocks in 18 games).
At Texas A&M, coach Tony Barone will be watching the rebuilding
of a team whose top three scorers and rebounders all graduated;
he is counting on juco transfers and three-point specialists
Derrick Hart and Tracey Anderson.
The subject of rebuilding is a familiar one to new SMU coach
Mike Dement, who isn't discouraged by his team's 7-20 record
last year. He does have guard Troy Matthews, who averaged 15.9
points per game last season, running the Mustang backcourt.
COLOR PHOTO: SUSAN SIGMON/ALLSPORT USA Freeman and the frosh will aid the Horns. [Reggie Freeman]
1 Texas Tech
7 Texas A&M