Hank Raymonds Looks at the Three Amigos

John Dodds had a chance to talk to Hank Raymonds recently and the 83-year-old former coach is still feisty, candid, worries about Tom Crean, his players and the program like they were members of his own family and, above all, still loves to talk "X's and O's." In part one of this interview Hank talks about Marquette's "Three Amigos", Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews.

John Dodds: I am here with former Marquette Coach Hank Raymonds. Coach, the three leaders of the team, all sophomores, Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews, all went home with numerous team awards. Coach, comment about the soph three.

Hank Raymonds: I like all three of them. There is no doubt in my mind. They get along with each other too. It was very evident tonight when James didn't get the MVP award, how he clapped for his teammate O'Neal. Now those are good people. Well, you never know, maybe they will be even better together next year. You never know.

John Dodds: Jerel McNeal was voted the team's MVP. What do you like about his game?

Hank Raymonds: Consistency, quick. Now we've got to get him. I talked to him one time. When they drive to the basket, they've got to go in with the idea of getting plowed, keep their heads up, not just get the shot off. Get fouled. Get the three point play (traditional) because they get in there but if you try to get the shot off, that's when they start blocking like Cincinnati did a couple years ago. But he is quick. He's smart and he seems like he is really a coachable young man.

John Dodds: Jerel has improved a lot in the last two years.

Hank Raymonds: Well, John, all three have. That's from playing against good teams. The competition and next year in the Big East most of those teams had pretty good recruiting years. I think it's really going to be tough next year. Now I don't know what Tom's got coming in but they need somebody to help the big kid (Barro) at center. They definitely need some help in there.

John Dodds: McNeal's defensive abilities, does he remind you of any player you had like an Earl Tatum or is there someone who was quick, like Lloyd Walton or someone like that?

Hank Raymonds: There's no doubt it would be Glenn Rivers. The problem was we didn't have the (shot) clock and one of the reasons these teams would hold the ball and hold the ball and Glenn would get so disgusted all the time because you could play defense from now and forever and they can still hold the ball, but this kid (McNeal) is good. And you can't teach what he does. He's so quick and anticipating and he doesn't foul that much. He's got good hands but I wish when he drives (head up), now we've got to get him doing that next year. When he gets three points instead of two.

John Dodds: Wesley Mathews. He doesn't play at all like his dad, who was a smaller and quicker PG. Wesley is a taller, more athletic swing player. He's kind of like the glue in that he's always "Mr. Steady."

Hank Raymonds: Yeah, he's smart. He's a smart player. There is no doubt about it. He can shoot. He can shoot outside. He's got a good game and his background, well, his mother was a good athlete and his dad, so I think it has rubbed off on him and he's also another a very nice young guy.

John Dodds: What do you like about James?

Hank Raymonds: I tell you, John, I hoped that the kid would make the pros, but now that he's going to return, it's really going to help him more. It will help all of them. I think their going to have a hell of a basketball team. You watch some of the highlights (from last season) and you can really see what he can do is that at the end of a game, he ended up with the ball a lot and had to shoot the thing under pressure with the clock. All you've got to do is get the films from the Louisville game down there. You can find out this kid can shoot. He can play but what's his position (PG, 2G)? What he was doing last year, in other words, he's had the ball too much. He's got to move that ball. He's got to move it around. You can't have it on a yo yo all day, so you make better decisions.

In part two Coach Raymonds will talk about some of the changes in today's game.

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