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November 24, 1976 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1976-11-24

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)aae Fourteen

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Wednesday, November 2,1976

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Blue best bet ir,

By RICH LERNER
What can the Big Ten do for
an encore? In 1976, the confer-
ence supplied both national fi-
nalists, runner-up Michigan and
champion Indiana.
Meanwhile, the other confer-
ence teams boasted wins over
such national powers as Mar-
quette, Kentucky, Arizona, Ore-
gon State and Arizona State.
Seven of the ten teams posted,
winning seasons and only Mich-
igan State had a losing non-con-
ference record.

BELIEVE IT or not, this year
the Big Ten may be even bet-
ter. Four teams, Michigan, Indi-
ana, Purdue and Minnesota (in-
eligible for tournament play) -
rate as legitimate contenders
for national honors, and the rest
of the conference should be im-
proved.
The feeling is unanimous
among the Big Ten coaches that
out of those four teams will
emerge the conference cham-
pion. Michigan has the pre-sea-
son nod due to the return of

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four starters - Rickey Green,
Steve Grote, Phil Hubbard and
John Robinson.
But even with the four out-
standing teams, it's doubtful
that any can duplicate Indiana's
undefeated season of last year.
"MICHIGAN is the only team
without a weakness," says Pur-
due's Fred Schaus.
"Those four returning play-
ers might be so good that they
could play Bill Frieder (Orr's
assistant coach) and still win,"
says Jud Heathcote, Michigan
State's new coach.
While Michigan rates as the
early favorite, the Wolverines
face stern challenges.
BOBBY KNIGHT recruited an
outstanding group of freshmen
to replace the four starters he
lost from his championship
squad.
Knight banks on newcomers
-Glen Grunwald, Mike Miday,
Butch Carter and Derek Hol-
comb to blend _ with lettermen
Wayne Radford, Rich Valavici-
us, Jim Wisman, and center
Kent Benson, who's set to re-
place graduated teammate Scott
May as the nation's most out-
standing player.
Benson's presence atone
makes Indiana a threat, and
when you throw in the others,
it would certainly not be in-
conceivable to find the Hoosiers
in the NCAA finals defending
their championship.
"INDIANA has three starters
back - Kent Benson," jokes

iBig
Michigan coach Johnny Orr,
"Benson is capable of carry-
ing a ballclub," emphasized
Minnesota coach Jim Dutcher.
"And they've got some fine let-
terwinners back."
While Knight only has Ben-
son from last year's starting.
group, at Minnesota, Dutcher
has all five starters back from
the same team that recorded
wins over Marquette and Mich-
igan last year.
ADDED TO THAT, 6-10 fresh-
man Kevin McHale appears to
have won himself a starting po-
sition along the front line with
returners 6-10 Michael Thomp-
son (the league's leading return-
ing scorer) and 6-10 David Wi-
ney.
Asa result, 20- ots-per-game
scorer Ray Williams can move
from forward back to his natur-
al position at guard, joining Os-
borne Lockhart and sending
three-year starter Flip Saun-
ders to the bench.
"With three 6-10 kids across
the front line our running game
goes out the window and so does
our pressure defense," said
Dutcher,
"WE HAVE a quality post
man in Thompson. We'll have
an awfully strong inside game,
good experience and improved
depth," Dutcher explained, "but
we aren't a consistently good
defensive team. We can't put
pressure on the ball, we're forc-
ed to zone, we can't full-court
press and we have no consistent
outside shooting."
Purdue lost only Kyle Macy
from last year's squad, but the
transfer of the sharpshooting
guard to Kentucky may never
be noticed.
Eugene Parker, who develop-
ed into one of the loop's top
guards by season's end, is back,
as is all-Big Ten selection Bruce
Parkinson, who missed last year
with a broken arm.
SCHAUS? FRONT LINE re-
turns intact with Wayne Walls

Ten
and Tom Scheffler in the pivot.
However, 6-11 freshman Barry
Carrol could move Sheffler to
the bench.
Jerry Sichting and freshman
Bill Maddy, along with the loser
or the Carroll-Sheffler duel, give
Purdue its best depth in quite
some time.
With six players 6-8 or taller,
Tex Winter's Northwestern team
could give any of the four fa-
vorites a real scrap. Starting
forwards Tony Allen and Bob
Svete return, complementing
guard Billy McKinney, the
Wildcats' alltime leading scor-
er.
THE TWO remaining spots
should go to sophomore Pete
Boeson and senior guard Bob
Hildebrand, though Bob Klaas
and freshman Mike Campbell
and Brian Gibson will have a
say-so in the matter.
Illinois lost three starters from
the team that upoet Michigan
last year, Nate Williams, Mike
Washington and Otho Tucker.
Rich Adams in the post and
Audie Matthews, who will make
the move from forward to guard
will have to pick up the slack.
Three coaches make their
Big Ten debuts this season -
Hea'thcote at Michigan State,
Bill Cofield at Wisconsin and
Eldon Miller, who moves from
Western Michigan to Ohio State.
A rude welcome awaits all.
See BIG TEN, Page 18
1976 Final
Big Tell

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Indiana
MICHIGAN
Purdue
Michigan State
Iowa
Minnesota
Illinois
Northwestern
Wisconsin
Ohio State

Conf.
W L
18 0
14 4
11 7
10 8
9 9
8 10
7 11
7 11
4 14
2 16

All
W L
32 0
25 7
16 11
14 13
19 10
16 10
14 13
12 15
10 16
6 20

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