Randy was salutatorian of his class, Robbie the valedictorian of his. Randy was averaging 9.2 points per game at week's end; Robbie 10.6. Randy has a 3.48 grade point average in premed/business; Robbie a 3.70 in an undeclared major. Randy is partial to brief homilies; Robbie to one-liners.
While striving all his life to match the accomplishments of his older brother, Robbie has also devoted himself to being as different from Randy as possible. Check out their ensembles on a recent team flight: Randy in a navy blazer, striped shirt, paisley tie; Robbie sporting grungy stubble on his chin and mocking his father's dress code in a white T-shirt and blue suede vest to match his blue-tinted sunglasses.
On a team so clean it practically squeaks, Randy sticks out as Mr. Wholesome. He's apt to exclaim, "Heavens, yes!" when he's in wholehearted agreement with some statement. On the flight from Fresno he settles in to do some serious pleasure reading, burying his nose in William Bennett's The Book of Virtues.
This guy needs a book on virtue the way Brad Pitt needs a manual on how to pick up women. During high school Randy would rise at 5:15 in the morning, walk to the gym and shoot foul shots—sometimes while the drill team practiced around him. His record: 255 in a row.
After redshirting his freshman year, Randy decided it was time for him to go on a mission. The Church Missionary Committee decided he would do the most good in New Jersey. It wasn't Kenya or Australia, but Randy found his apartment in Elizabeth plenty exotic. "Every morning I'd scoop cockroaches out of the shower," he says. One day he and his fellow missionaries came upon a pickup basketball game in a park in Newark. They asked to play winners. Recalls Randy, "There we were in our white shirts and ties, with our name tags. They looked at us like we were out of our minds." But the Mormons held their own. "After a while they got used to seeing us there. They'd say, 'Here come the Celtics!' "
To his pickup opponents Randy laid down a challenge: If his team won, the defeated team would have to listen to the missionaries' sales pitch. "We won some, we lost some," says Randy. "We handed out a lot of copies of the Book of Mormon."
Randy is married to a former BYU cheerleader named Erin Berrett, whom he met on a blind date and married a year and a half later. Robbie is single and lives at home with his parents, his brother Darren and sister, Kelli. "I usually don't get home till about 10:30 at night," says Robbie, "and then I just go to my room." Around the house Robbie and Roger don't have much to say to one another.
Randy offers this: "The line separating when he's a coach and when he's a dad has always been cloudy."
Says Robbie, "He's always the coach."
Occasionally Roger must also be the peacemaker, like the time the two boys went at it during practice at UTEP's Special Events Center last January. Teammates had noticed that Robbie was in exceptionally foul spirits from a loss the night before to New Mexico. Robbie twice picked his brother's pocket and went in for easy layups. The next time up the court, Randy threw an elbow, and the battle was joined. Center Russell Larson, using a fireman's carry, finally had to transport Robbie out of the gym. Says one eyewitness, "If we hadn't pulled Robbie off, he would have killed Randy." Many saw that scrape as Robbie's way of taking over the team.