Often, my doodlings center on Marquette basketball. My latest might make for an interesting one for every Marquette graduate: Select a roster of 13 players from your years at Marquette and limit it to either your first four years at school or your last four.
I spent my junior year at the Loyola University Rome Center, but I'll include that season to make it four years, spanning from the 1977-78 season that ended with a shocking loss to Randy Ayers and Miami of Ohio to the 1980-81 season, which ended with an NIT loss in the Carrier Dome to Tony "Red" Bruin and Syracuse. In between, a six-point loss to DePaul in the Sweet 16 and an 18-point, first-round pummeling at the hands of Villanova.
I watched the Miami of Ohio loss in a dorm room on the sixth floor of McCormick Hall, primed to run down to Lake Michigan after the victory that never came. Single most depressing day at Marquette. The DePaul loss isn't as memorable. I was in Italy for the Villanova game and never saw it. I sat court-side for the loss to Syracuse in the NIT, covering the team for the Marquette Tribune 26 years before our oldest son, John, covered the same beat.
The late Hank Raymonds, a super nice guy who always had a friendly word every time I saw him at Marquette game for decades, was in his first four years as head coach of Marquette. But for this team, I'll make Rick Majerus, as underrated a coach as there is in America, as my head coach and give the assistant coaching jobs to Hank and Ric Cobb. If memory serves, coaches were allowed just two-full time assistant coaches with unrestricted responsibilities then, in contrast to the three allowed today.
Head cheerleader: Gail Pudvan.
Assistants: Sandy Rokavec, Mary Hussey, Cocoa and Connie Bennett, Rondell Sheridan.
The 13 players to make the cut:
1. Butch Lee, SG: Had the coolest walk in college basketball history and had an amazing blend of strength and quickness. It seemed as if he never missed a bank shot, an elbow jumper, a contested layup or a free throw. Coolest No. 15 in the history of sports. National champion as a junior, national Player of the Year as a senior. Inspired me to wear No. 15 my senior year of CYO ball. I had the walk down, but never quite imitated his game flawlessly.
2. Sam Worthen, PG: Magician with the ball, he sometimes ran the offense from the point at other times from the corner. The first time I saw Dwyane Wade play live was in a high school game his team actually lost to Hubbard. When he drove the baseline, busted a cross-over then fired a high-velocity, on-target pass it made me think Marquette had another Sam Worthen on its hands. It turned out Wade was a combination of Worthen, Rivers, Butch and Oliver Lee, taking the best qualities from all three, though not the long-range shooter O. Lee was.
Hank Raymonds and Doc Rivers
3. Glenn "Doc" Rivers, PG/SG: Met my Loyola Marymount graduate wife, Angie, in Italy. She visited Marquette during our senior year and watched Rivers hit a 35-foot bank shot at the buzzer to beat Notre Dame, making him her favorite basketball player.
4. Jerome Whitehead, C: Had by far the longest NBA career (11 seasons) of anyone on this team, playing for six different organizations and twice averaging in double figures in scoring. One of the rare basketball players who was able to improve considerably his hands during college career. NBA body and brain enabled him to play such a long career.
5. Oliver Lee, SF: Has there ever in Marquette history been as great a pure shooter with the vertical leap that O. Lee had? Earl Tatum maybe? Before working for the school newspaper, I was all fan and started the O-Zone cheering section in the nose-bleed section behind one of the hoops our freshman year. Writing for the Milwaukee Sentinel, Phil Cash led with "Oliver Lee and his O-Zone cheering section were in seventh heaven," after one of Oliver's big games as a freshman. Oliver had a habit of saying, "Too late," to the defender as he released his jumper. Phenomenal talent who never worked hard enough at the defensive end to land an NBA career. He lived with Tony Davis right across the elevators on the sixth floor of McCormick and was friendly with all of us. His half-brother Vince used to visit often. It wasn't until running into Marc Marotta years later that I learned of Vince's last name: Carter, as in Vince Carter, Sr. I'd love to see side-by-side films of Oliver and Vince Jr. shooting jumpers and soaring for dunks. Identical form on their jumpers.
I recently connected with Oliver via e-mail and linkedin.
6. Bernard Toone, PF/C: Phenomenal outside shooter and an underrated rebounder. Before the days of nearly every studio analyst being called by his initials, Toone was known as "BT," not be confused with "BLT (Butch Lee Time)." I'll never forget reading Al McGuire's quote in Sports Illustrated's college basketball preview section when Toone was a sophomore: "We're expecting big things from Bernard this season. His attention span has doubled. It's now two seconds."
7. Jim Boylan, PG: Long-time NBA assistant coach and one-time interim head coach of the Chicago Bulls, Boylan out-played Phil Ford in the 1977 national-title game. He moved his feet great on defense, never made a stupid decision with the ball, snaked through the lane skillfully and knocked down the jumper if he couldn't find anything better to do with the ball. I forget the name of the bar on State Street — The East End maybe? — where he used to shoot pool, but he was good at that game, too.
8. Michael Wilson, PG/SG: Signature play at Marquette was a dunk that broke the backboard, but was a much better defensive player than scorer. Super explosive and quick, he had the knack for playing the passing lanes and was a good shot-blocker for a guard.
9. Robert Byrd, PF: His absence of ego made him a fundamentally sound defender whose concentration never lapsed. He got every rebound in his area and kept it simple offensively, never taking a shot outside his range. The Ice Man was unflappable.
10. Ulice Payne, SF: Post-graduate accomplishments are so impressive that they tend to overshadow his value as a basketball player for Marquette. Scored 19 points in victory against Reggie Theus-led UNLV team and earned NBC Player of the game honors. Could have been a big scorer, but was smart enough to realize Butch, Whitehead and Toone
11. Artie Green, PG/SG: Whether it was on a playground wearing his signature green, double-knit pants or in traffic in a game, Green got way above the rim and threw down vicious slams. Too bad there wasn't a national slam-dunk competition then because he might have won it.
12. Gary Rosenberger, SG: Lefty long-range shooter was born too soon. He was made for the three-point shot.
13. Dean Marquardt, C/PF: Mobile, blessed with a soft shooting touch and an excellent passer, Marquardt had a memorable game in the MECCA against Notre Dame, when showed a deadly shooting touch and out-played the late Orlando Woolridge in the same week Marquette lost to Southern Miss. Nice guy. What's your 13-man team from your four years at Marquette?
— Tom Keegan, a 1981 graduate of Marquette University and native of Rochester, NY, is sports editor and columnist at the Lawrence Journal-World in Lawrence, KS. His columns appear at kusports.com and ljworld.com. Three of Tom's siblings graduated from Marquette, as did two of his sons, two nephews and three neices.