His teams aren't particularly exciting, he doesn't have much charisma and not very many high school stars have sought fame under his tutelage in Manhattan, Kan.

Yet, among his peers, Jack Hartman of Kansas State is considered to be one of the better college basketball coaches.

North Carolina's Dean Smith and Indiana's Bob Knight get the stars and the raves, but the 55-year-old Hartman, with no gimmicks and little fanfare, has taken the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament seven times in his 12 seasons at the Big Eight Conference school.

This year is no exception as Kansas State already has beaten Northern Illinois and Arkansas to advance to the Midwest Regional semifinals against Boston College Friday in St. Louis.

Teams coached by Hartman are always well-prepared and he is known for making key moves as the game progresses. "When Kansas State plays on television," said American University Coach Gary Williams, "I try to watch because I can learn something."

"Having Jack on the bench is worth five points a game," said Missouri Coach Norm Stewart. "You aren't going to outfox him. You usually just have to hope your kids are better players than his and they play better."

A disciple of Henry Iba, the former coach at Oklahoma State and controversial coach of the U.S. Olympic team in his later years, Hartman believes in patience and discipline.

"We play the percentages with everything," he said. "On offense we want to get down the floor as quickly as we can, but we want to be careful, too. We don't want to get into a transition game. On defense we want to make the other team earn whatever it gets. We don't gamble. We are controlled, deliberate and conservative."

Kansas State (23-7) lost only two games outside the Big Eight, to Illinois by six and Indiana by nine, both on the road. The Wildcats have beaten conference champion Missouri, Big Ten champion Minnesota, Marquette and Nevada-Las Vegas. They have won 20 games or more seven of the last 10 seasons.

With all-America guard Rolando Blackman, the Wildcats were 24-9 last season and made it to the West Regional final before losing to North Carolina.

Hartman's 12-year record at Kansas State is 239-109. Before that, he was 144-64 in eight seasons at Southern Illinois and, with a star named Walt Frazier, led the Salukis to the 1967 National Invitation Tournament championship. Among active coaches with at least 338 victories, Hartman has the third best winning percentage, behind Smith and Lefty Driesell.

All of the great coaches have something that makes them unique, something they are known for. With Smith, it's the four corners; with Knight, aggressive man-to-man defense; with John Wooden, that 2-1-2 full court press. Hartman's specialty is a 3-2 zone defense.

Most coaches are deathly afraid of letting the opposition inside, so the zones they play are usually 2-3 or 2-1-2, designed to protect the basket. Hartman believes that you can be beaten just as easily from 15 feet nowadays as you can from two feet, so he put in the 3-2 zone, which puts more pressure on wing shooters.

The Wildcats have a big, strong front line, anchored by 6-foot-7, 245-pound forward Ed Nealy, who has led the Big Eight in rebounding the past three seasons. He is averaging 11.5 points, shooting 57 percent and getting 8.6 rebounds a game.

The other forward is Randy Reed, 6-7, who also is a 57 percent shooter and has a 14.2 scoring average.

Center Les Craft, 6-10, 225, has modest averages of 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds, but he can dominate inside. He had five blocked shots against Northern Illinois and three against Arkansas.

Tim Jankovich, a 92 percent free throw shooter, is one guard, and to replace Blackman, Hartman switched 6-6 Tyrone Adams to guard from forward. He has responded by leading the team in both scoring (almost 15 points per game) and assists (slightly more than four per game).

All five starters are shooting better than 50 percent; the team shooting percentage is 52.