"We're playing a Division i schedule with Davision iii players," said Coach Jack Kvancz in a blunt assessment of the Cardinal prospects.

Last year, citing rising costs and a lack of alumni support, the university administration decided to petition the NCAA for a reclassification from Division i to Division iii effective next season. That means that athletes are awarded scholarships on the basis of financial need, not athletic ability.

What it also means, according to Kvancz, is that "since this is our last year in Division i, we had no recruiting year and out best players left. The only players we have left besides walk-ons are seniors. It's going to be a very tough year."

What hopes the Cardinals do have this season rest primarily with three returning senior starters: forward Bill Dankos, guard Joe Colletta and center Danny Murray.

"Those three guys are going to have to be the iron men for us this season," said Kvancz. "We're going to have to rely on them very heavily to provide us with the bulk of our scoring and rebounding."

Dankos, 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, finished third in scoring last year with a 12.1 average per game. He led the team in rebounding with an 8.5 average.

The 6-10, 220-pound Murray was a part-time player a year ago, averaging 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Colletta, 6-2 and 175 pounds, averaged 10.8 points a game.

Three of last year's top sophomores -- Bill Dooley, Mike Neville and Tom Lamb -- transferred to other Division I schools where they will sit out this year and still have two years of eligibility remaining. Dooley went to the University of Richmond, Neville to George Washington and Lamb to William and Mary.

"We have no depth," said Kvancz. "Hopefully, that won't present us with too much of a problem."

Strengths: Other than Kvancz's apparent ability to get every ounce of talent out of his players, the three holdovers from last year represent the Cardinals' only hopes.

Weaknesses: Everyone else and a schedule with which it would be difficult to post a winning record even if the Cardinals were operating with a full deck.

Assessment: It looks like a very difficult year for the Cardinals.