"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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tom Keegan: My All-Time Marquette Roster

Keeganoids rejoice. The pride of the Class of '81, Tom Keegan, has graciously returned to CrackedSidewalks with a new column. Tom is the sports editor and columnist for the Lawrence Journal World in Lawrence, Kansas. Enjoy!


My All-Time Marquette Roster

by Tom Keegan
Class of '81

The ground rules for my all-time Marquette roster of 13 players: They have to be young enough that I remember them in Marquette uniforms, which usually were among the coolest in the nation.

First, the coaching staff.

Naturally, the late, great Al McGuire is the head coach. McGuire loved portraying the image that he really didn't get involved in the details of basketball when he coached. Nonsense. He saw things most others didn't, felt the game in a way few felt it, which was obvious listening to him call games. Sure he was funny and tough, but above all he was smart.

Assistant coaches: Hank Raymonds, Rick Majerus and John Glaser.

Raymonds was the perfect assistant. He didn't care about the limelight, didn't yearn to get the credit and was the perfect complement to Al. Majerus has the right personality for recruiting and a gift for teaching big men how to play the game, even if he never could figure out how to wake up the guy he called "the biggest sleeper since Rip Van Winkle," Roman Mueller.

Glaser's role? Please, that should be obvious to anyone who reads the message boards. (My hand is up.) Put him in charge of teaching players how to excel from the wide post, the way Caleb Green did in leading Oral Roberts to an upset of Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse a year before Kansas won the national title.

The starting five: Dwyane Wade, Butch Lee, Earl Tatum, Bo Ellis and Jim Chones. Two Chicago players, two from New York, one from Wisconsin, a pretty representative cross-section of Marquette basketball's geographic history. Picture how many scoring opportunities Wade would create for Lee and Tatum driving to the paint and dishing.

The bench, listed in order of minutes played: Maurice Lucas, Dean Meminger, Doc Rivers, Steve Novak, Jim McIlvaine, Tony Smith, Travis Diener and Tony Miller. What a blend of muscle, blurry quickness, defensive prowess in the post and in the post and long-range shooting.

Need a zone-buster? Call on Novak or Diener. The opposing point guard lighting you up? Make it Miller time. T-Mill will make him pick up his dribble. Need to get a more athletic team on the floor? Send Rivers and Smith to the table to check in. The situation call for a skilled banger? Lucas is good for 25 minutes a night on this team. Dean the Dream is good for the same amount of playing time on the perimeter. Need a shot-blocker to plant that panic in the minds of the shooters, bring McIlvaine, the Alter Boy, off the bench and watch him change their shots.

OK, enough fantasy. Back to reality. Which aforementioned Marquette legend is available to offer his services to fix Dominic James' shot? Not Hank. He enjoys his court-side seat and doesn't need the stress. Majerus is busy coaching Hank's alma mater, St. Louis University. Hmmm, that leaves ... you got it, Glaser. The least he could do is send Buzz Williams a note offering to tutor James. Something tells me he has the time. It's worth a shot.

Tom Keegan, a 1981 graduate of Marquette University, is sports editor and columnist for the Lawrence Journal World in Lawrence, KS. Keegan votes in the Associated Press college football and college basketball polls and is a Baseball Hall of Fame and Heisman Trophy elector. He posts on message boards under the handle: dont.do.it.just.dont.doit


Unknown said...

Fantastic! I love that column and cannot disagree with a single member of the squad.

I did want to ask that, with everybody watching James, McNeal and (to a lesser extent) Matthews move up the all time lists, where do you rank them?

Personally, I think they're all nice players. But that's as far as I'd go. From the moment they each stepped on campus, you could see they were athletic and active, but all limited offensively.

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear Keegan's perspective.

Anonymous said...

Jim McIlvaine couldn't hold George Thompson's jock.

Championships Matter said...

OK, three guys that I think you glossed over and a fellow who I think should start:

1)Lloyd Walton -- No D-Wade for sure but Lloyd was one of the best, period. A fine ballplayer, good playmaker and a spark-plug that made the team go. Was overshadowed by Butch Lee, which is unfortunate because Lloyd was class for both the program and the university.

2) George Thompson -- You have got to be kidding leaving this guy off. George Thompson was the greatest scorer in university history for many years, despite playing only three years in a system where he was not featured until his senior year. One of the greatest Warriors, period.

3) Bob Lackey -- If you thought Maurice Lucas was an enforcer, you should have seen this guy. No one and I mean no one, got in Lackey's way. A tough rebounder and a great ballplayer, Lackey was a poster child for the early years of Al McGuire's tenure. Just a great ballplayer that's certainly among the 12 best (especially if you consider roles for players)

Finally, as much as I loved what Bo did for the program, I'd rather have Maurice Lucas in the line-up. Both are great but Maurice has the body Bo didn't -- and he was nastier.

One thought, I know the author focused on relatively recent Marquette players, but there's a reason Don Kojis' number is retired too. Kojis led the first Marquette NCAA tournament team back in 1955.