"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cracked Sidewalks Salute to the Seniors: Joe Chapman

As we approach Senior Day, Cracked Sidewalks will honor this year’s senior class with our thoughts and memories of their finest MU moments. As we lead up to their last Bradley Center appearance on Saturday against the Providence Friars, let's take time to reflect on Chris Grimm, Joe Chapman and Steve Novak. Here's the schedule:

Thursday: Chris Grimm
Friday: Joe Chapman
Saturday: Steve Novak

Today's Honoree: Joe Chapman

Joe Chapman's mark on the 2002-06 Golden Eagle squads is that he's the guy who stepped up when least expected and most needed to help reverse a rough stretch for his team. His typical demeanor is quiet leadership on the court, and more than once has left MU fans scratching their heads wondering when he scored? You don't always see him on the court, but he always makes his presence known--often when it's most desparitly needed.

A good example is the recent game against Georgetown. The Hoyas had a 2 point lead late in the game, and MU was inbounding off a Georgetown turnover. Everyone in the Bradley Center knew that the next shot would be from Novak. Nope--the ball finds its way into Joe Champman's hands, where he sinks a trey to put MU up for good. That's the type of play Joe Champan will be remembered for.

Joe, an inside player in his HS days at Bloom Township High School near Chicago, annouced he would attend MU on August 13th, 2001. Back then, fans were still buzzing over the recent commitments from Chris Grimm and Steve Novak, and loved the fact that he was from the same south suburban Chicago basketball hotbed that produced other current MU players--including Dwyane Wade, Odartey Blankson, Ron Howard and Kevin Menard.

MU was the first school to send him a letter, and Tom Crean liked what he saw as early as Joe's sophomore year. Joe picked MU over Bradley, Illinois, Illinois State, Indiana, Michigan State and Xavier.

Knowing that his future was in the Guard in collge, his coach made the switch after his sophomore year. Quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal: His AAU coach Ron Newquist said "After his sophomore year, I put him on the wing in the 2 (shooting guard) and 3 (small forward) positions. That's when he started to get noticed. People got to see him do some different things and he opened some eyes."

Joe has been a two-time winner of MU's "Hit the Deck" award--given the the player who takes the most charges in practice. Many of his career highs came against tough opponents. 21 points came against the 40 minutes of hell UAB defense. He set his career high for steals against Louisville. His career high of 7 boards was against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Okak, his FTs made and attempted came in a 7-8 night against Savannah State, but he went 6-6 against UConn on his #2 performance. More often than not, you could count on Joe stepping it up against the better teams.

Cracked Sidewalks' 3 favorite Joe Champan Moments:

 Playing his guts out (literally) to lead MU to a road win at St. Louis his junior year. In the waning minutes, and while suffering from a bad case of the flu that left him vomiting on the sidelines, Joe calmy sank a 3 pointer with 13.3 seconds to go to give MU the win.
 His tremendous effort in the first game of the 2005 Great Alaska Shootout that saved MU's season. Coming off a somewhat expected (yet still embarassing) loss to Winthrop in the Blue and Gold Classic, Joe poured in 17 points to lead MU to the win over Eastern Washington. No the competition wasn't great, but that win propelled MU to a GAS championship, and laid the foundation for a team that didn't give up after that early rough stretch.
 His six points, five rebounds, and two assists coming off the bench in the first round of the 2003 NCAA tournament against Holy Cross. Everyone gives Travis Diener credit for pulling the team up when Dwyane Wade had a tough game--but without Joe's clutch play, MU would have been just another early round upset victim.

Thanks for the memories, Joe!

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