Led by inimitable coach Al McGuire, the '77 Warriors had a style of their own -- and they weren't above a little infighting on their way to the title
Posted: Tuesday June 26, 2007 2:01PM; Updated: Wednesday June 27, 2007 1:57PM
This Where Are They Now feature and others like it can be found in the July 2nd issue of Sports Illustrated.
There was no coach quite like Marquette's Al McGuire. Case in point: the Warriors' 1977 NCAA tournament first-round game against Cincinnati. As the first half wound down, McGuire benched sophomore sharpshooter Bernard Toone for improvising on a set play. "This is the honest truth," recalls Toone. "During the timeout I said to Coach, 'You know something? You're a mother -- -- -- to play for.' "
Assistant coach Rick Majerus pulled Toone outside as McGuire got up, pacing the room with a chair in his hands, ready to hurl it. The coach cooled off, then called the player back in and proceeded with his halftime strategy talk as if nothing had happened. Marquette took the floor, ripped off 13 straight points and beat the Bearcats 66-51. Toone finished with six rebounds, tied for the team high.
McGuire, who died in 2001, said the altercation with Toone launched the Warriors on their championship run. Using their signature stingy 2-3 zone defense, they downed Kansas State, Wake Forest and UNC-Charlotte to reach the final, then outhustled North Carolina for a 67-59 victory.
A mix of athleticism, attitude and blacktop swagger fueled the team. Top scorer and tournament MVP Butch Lee (19.6 points per game) grew up in Harlem; big men Jerome Whitehead and Bo Ellis, from rough neighborhoods in Chicago, dominated the boards; and playmaker Jim Boylan was a native of Jersey City, N.J. "We were street fighters," says Ellis, whom McGuire allowed to design the team's memorably odd uniforms. "That's why Coach recruited us, because of our aggressiveness and our fire."
The Warriors' outsider image is reflected in their official team photo: McGuire had them pose in tuxedos in front of a white '34 Packard at the Brooks-Stevens Automotive Museum near Milwaukee. "It was something out of the ordinary," says Ellis of the shot. It was also a fitting portrait of one of the NCAA's most extraordinary champions.
1. Jim Boylan
2. Bill Neary
3. Ulice Payne
4. Butch Lee
5. Jim Dudley
6. Gary Rosenberger
7. Bernard Toone
8. Jerome Whitehead
9. Craig Butrym
10. Robert Byrd
11. Bo Ellis
12. Mark Lavin