Welcome back to The Anonymous Eagle Primer. Yesterday, we covered the current Marquette Golden Eagles basketball team. During this upcoming season, Marquette will celebrate its 95th season of participation in college basketball. That means we have a lot of history to cover. Let's start with some big picture items.
- 29 NCAA Tournament appearances, tied for 11th most in NCAA history
- 36 NCAA Tournament victories, 21st most in NCAA history
- 3 Final Four Appearances (1974, 1977, 2003)
- 1977 NCAA National Champion, one of just 35 schools to have won a title
- 1970 NIT Champion
Let's get some emotion flowing with a video, shall we? Here's the 2009-10 version of the video that plays before the boys come out of the locker room right before tipoff.
There's a lot of great players and a lot of great memories in that video. But this is a history primer, so let's focus on the most important people in there. So we turn to Marquette's list of retired jerseys and start with the obvious place to begin: the jersey number least likely to be worn in NCAA play.
#77 - Retired in honor of Al McGuire and the 1977 NCAA Champion Marquette Warriors
Al McGuire was the head coach of Marquette basketball from 1964 through 1977, compiling a gaudy 295-80 record in the process. He won the 1970 National Invitational Tournament when he famously refused an invitation to the NCAA Tournament because he didn't like where Marquette was seeded. Coach McGuire led Marquette to two Final Four appearances, making the championship game in both 1974 and 1977. Al had announced midway through the 1976-77 season that it would be his last season as a basketball coach. His players responded, defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels in the championship game to secure Marquette's lone NCAA Championship.
Al McGuire was a master motivator and psychologist when it came to coaching basketball. This can best be explained through my favorite story about Coach McGuire. Marquette and DePaul was a great rivalry during Coach McGuire's tenure. During a game between the two, Al put forward Pat Smith in to defend DePaul's big time scorer, Bob Zoretich. Very quickly, Smith got under Zoretich's skin, they traded shoves, Smith threw a punch at Zoretich and both players were ejected. DePaul's great head coach, Ray Meyer, went ballistic because his team had lost its star and Marquette had lost "a guy who can't throw the ball into the ocean if he were standing on the beach." Coach McGuire, never one to pass on an opportunity to needle an rival, rounded up a Milwaukee Journal photographer and headed down to the shores of Lake Michigan and took this picture:
Smith's shot went in, and the picture was picked up by the wire services, including Al's gleeful quote about how the shot was much more difficult because Lake Michigan is much smaller than the ocean.
That's Coach Al McGuire for you. After his retirement from coaching, he became a college basketball broadcaster, usually paired with broadcasting legends Dick Enberg and Billy Packer. Al's unique sense of humor and personality as a broadcaster can best be seen in this clip as Syracuse celebrates a trip to the Final Four, not just in his ribbing of Syracuse Jim Boeheim, but in his exuberance in celebrating with the Syracuse players:
Al McGuire left a permanent impact on Marquette University and college basketball in general. Sadly, Coach McGuire was taken from from us in 2001 after a battle with leukemia. But we continue to honor his memory. The facility that houses practices for men's basketball as well as home games for women's basketball and women's volleyball bears his name. The court that men's basketball plays on is also named for Coach McGuire. The men's basketball uniforms carry an "AL" emblem at the middle of the neckline. Lastly, every season, one home game is designated as "Al's Night," a celebration of the lasting legacy of Coach McGuire's influence. The usual pregame video is replaced by an Al McGuire-themed one, like this one from last season.
After the jump: We continue with the history lesson!
As I've already pointed out, Al McGuire is easily the most important figure in Marquette basketball history. The easiest way to point this out is to look at the list of retired jerseys: Six of the nine retired player jerseys belonged to guys who played for Al McGuire. Let's hit them, going in chronological order:
#24 - George Thompson, 1966-1969
Al's first great player might have been his best. The man known as "Brute Force" ended his Marquette career #1 in points scored (1773), #1 in scoring average (20.4 per game), and #7 in rebounds (688). Considering Thompson stood just 6'2", both the nickname and the rebounding totals are impressive. Thompson's scoring record would stand for 40 years until finally broken by Jerel McNeal in 2009. Thompson might be best known to younger Marquette fans for his 27 years calling Marquette games on the radio. Little known fact: George Thompson was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 NFL Draft, even though Marquette hadn't fielded a football team since 1960.
#14 - Dean Meminger, 1968-1971
"The Dream" came to Marquette after being the second player to be named to the All City team in New York City three years in a row, following Lew Alcindor. Meminger made an immediate impact on the team, averaging 16.4 points in his sophomore season back when freshmen weren't immediately eligible. The next year, Marquette won the NIT with Meminger being named MVP of the tournament. For an encore performance, Meminger led Marquette to a 26-0 record and an appearance in the NCAA Mideast Regional before suffering a 1 point loss to Ohio State. The teams that Meminger played on were so good and had such a great home court advantage in the old MECCA Arena that he never suffered defeat on that floor, compiling a record of 46-0.
#20 - Maurice Lucas, 1972-1974
I don't know if I'm capable of discussing the man Bill Walton once called "The greatest Portland Trailblazer ever," so let's see if Rubie Q can manage it.
Maurice Lucas was a bad, bad man. Mo Lucas was Samuel L. Jackson on a basketball court. Mo Lucas was Shaft in a pair of short shorts. If you're catching my drift, it'll come as no surprise to you that Luke was once called "the toughest player in the NBA" by Basketball Digest, and Mo got his start at Marquette, where he starred for two years (1972-'73 and 1973-'74) before taking his talents to the ABA. A prolific scorer and tenacious rebounder and defender, Lucas roared out of the gates in 1972 by averaging 15.6 points per contest and led the team in rebounding at 10.9 boards per game. In 1973-'74, Luke was the most valuable player for a Marquette team that finished runner-up in the NCAA Tournament: he again averaged over 15 points and 10 rebounds per contest (15.8 and 10.6, respectively) and was named a second-team All-American for his efforts. After a successful pro career (Luke was a four-time NBA All-Star and was named one of the 30 greatest players in ABA history in 1997), Mo's No. 20 was raised to the Bradley Center ceiling in February 2006.
#43 - Earl Tatum, 1973-1976
For more, we go to our reporter live on the scene, Admiral Ackbar, S.J.:
Dubbed by Al McGuire as "the Black Jerry West," Earl Tatum was a standout for Marquette from 1972 to '76. In his four years at Marquette the team amassed 101 wins. Let that sink in for a minute. After his senior year, Tatum was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers and was their third leading scoring in the playoffs his rookie year. Earl was then dealt from the Lakers to Indiana and subsequently lost the desire to play basketball*, an affliction most commonly seen in basketball players who are forced to set 48 high screens a game for Bo Ryan**. He also injured his knee, cutting short what would have been a long and prosperous NBA career. He was inducted to the Marquette Hall of Fame in 2004. Earl still lives in Milwaukee and has season tickets to Marquette games. FWIW, I had seats right next to him for the past few seasons and had no idea I was sitting next to a legend. Because I'm kind of a moron like that.
*Not exactly true.
** Don't worry if this joke went over your head; you'll learn what this is all about in Badger Hate Week.
#31 - Maurice "Bo" Ellis, 1973-1977
One man in Marquette history has been lucky enough to play in 2 NCAA Final Fours. That man is Bo Ellis. In an era when the NCAA was still adjusting to letting freshmen play at all, Bo Ellis stepped right into a starting spot from Day 1, and that was on a team that finished as a runner up to North Carolina State's national champion in 1974. Ellis followed that outstanding effort up by submitting what Cracked Sidewalks contributor and Marquette Basketball historian John Pudner believes is the 4th best season by a Marquette player EVER, finishing behind Dwyane Wade's accomplishments in 2003 (more on that later), George Thompson in 1968 and Butch Lee's 1978 campaign. Not one to rest on his laurels, Bo wrapped up his Marquette career by captaining the Warriors to the 1977 NCAA Championship, being named to the All-American Team and the NCAA All-Tournament team, and creating one of the most lasting and famous images in Marquette history.
#15 - Alfred "Butch" Lee, 1974-1978
For Butch, we turn things back over to Rubie Q:
Trying to select the best player from the nine who've had their jerseys retired by Marquette is, of course, like trying to pick your favorite beer (which you, Marquette freshman, can't even begin to attempt right now, since your palette is limited to Busch Light and Keystone), but if one was going to try to identify the bestest of the bunch, you'd find a compelling case can be made for point guard extraordinaire Alfred "Butch" Lee. Lee was the point man for Marquette's only national championship winning team in 1977 (he was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player), and, at the end of his sterling four-year career, his teams had compiled a staggering cumulative record of 99-17. Lee was a scoring point guard before scoring point guards were cool, tossing in 19.6 ppg his junior year and 17.7 ppg in his last season, and he still ranks fifth on the career scoring list at MU after finishing his career just 38 points short of George Thompson's 1st place mark at the time with 1735 points. Most impressively of all, Lee was named to the second team All America list after his junior year and won the Naismith Award following his senior campaign.
That takes us through the 6 players who starred under Al McGuire. But we have 3 more to cover, and we'll start with the first MU player to have his jersey retired.
#44 - Don Kojis, 1958-1961
The Milwaukee native set every bar imaginable as a Marquette player, finishing his career as the leading scorer and rebounder at the time. That career rebounding number (1,222) still stands today, with only 4 players (Bo Ellis, Terry Rand, Walt Mangham, and Lazar Hayward) even managing to clear the 800 rebound mark. His senior year points and field goal totals were a school record for any season at the time, and his senior year rebounding number (462) is still the best season any Marquette player has recorded. Unsurprisingly, Kojis still has the two best rebounding season averages (1960-61 & 1959-1960) in school history as well. Take all this in to account, and I'm surprised that Marquette managed to wait until the start of the next season to retire the man's jersey.
#31 - Glenn "Doc" Rivers, 1981-1983
For a man who sits on the Marquette Board of Trustees, we have to go back to Rubie Q. Take it away, Mr. Chairman.
Before he was the NBA Championship-winning coach of the Boston Celtics, Glenn "Doc" Rivers was a standout point guard at Marquette in the early 1980s, and, in February 2004, he became the second No. 31 to have his number retired by MU, following fellow Warrior Bo Ellis (whose jersey went to the rafters in 1992). Coach Rivers got his nickname from former Marquette assistant coach Rick Majerus, who started calling the youngster "Doc" after Rivers wore a Doctor J T-shirt to a basketball camp. While Rivers wasn't the high-flyer that Julius Erving was, he was a dynamic floor general in his three years at MU: he led the team in scoring in 1982-'83 (13.2 ppg), led his squads to the post-season in each of his three years at Marquette (two NCAA tourneys, one NIT), and he's the only player in Marquette history to amass over 1000 points, 400 assists, and 200 steals in his career. And yet, despite those impressive numbers, if you ask any alum who's familiar with Doc's career what he remembers most about Rivers, you'll likely get the same answer: in 1981, Doc launched a half-court prayer that found the bottom of the net as the Warriors stole a 54-52 upset of fifth-ranked Notre Dame. Eat it, Digger.
#3 - Dwyane Wade, 2001-2003
I've been a Marquette Basketball fan for a long time, back during the Jim McIlvaine and Damon Key days. When I found myself in a position to get Marquette season tickets for the first time in my life, I jumped at it. As a new ticket holder, I was randomly assigned the best two seats available, which in 2001 was about 6 rows off the floor across from the visitor's bench. Complete luck. I was never paying any attention to recruiting back in the day, and let's be honest: The Internet wasn't what it is today for following that kind of thing. So I had no idea who was new to the team, much less have any clue who the Prop 48 academically ineligible freshman busting his butt in practice the whole previous season was.
Home opener vs. Loyola. #3, 21 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals. I only had one question: Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing? By the end of the season, not only did I know that I was watching the best Marquette team I had ever seen, I knew I was seeing something truly special in Dwyane Wade. For an encore in the next season, Wade took his game to a new level. AP All-American. Conference USA Player Of The Year. Second straight All C-USA First Team. Just when you thought you had seen it all, he produced again. And again. And again:
That dunk was essentially the capper on Marquette's beatdown of #1 seed Kentucky on their way to the third Final Four in school history, not to mention Dwyane Wade becoming just the 4th player (Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and Andre Miller) to record a triple-double in an NCAA Tournament game. Wade posted 29 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 4 blocks and a steal. History would not be denied from this man. Wade went from Marquette to the Miami Heat, winning an NBA title and NBA Finals MVP in 2006 to seal his legacy as the most successful pro player to come from Marquette. Wade went on to demonstrate the power of a Marquette education in Miami, convincing his high school graduate and college dropout friend to come work for him, leading to another NBA Finals appearance in 2011.
So that's the high points of Marquette Basketball history. Like I said after the video at the top, there's a lot of great players and memories to be found. But the best way to find them is to start by making your own. Tomorrow, we finish the Anonymous Eagle Primer by setting you on the path to fandom with the tips and tricks of the trade. See you then!