Artis Gilmore is the main reason for J.U.'s impressive statistics, but he has excellent support. Burrows, another Florida product who spent two years in junior college, did not get started in basketball until late in high school and still has some catching up to do, especially in building his endurance. With Gilmore underneath, he plays the high post and shoots fairly well from there. He also is the team's songleader, having introduced a little number called The Rooster, which he shouts out when the team is running laps at practice. The song is adapted from a version he learned at his high school in West Palm Beach.
The 6'10" McIntyre, from right there in Jacksonville, just like Connie Haines, was J.U.'s leading rebounder the last two years, and the 6'5" Morgan was the nation's 10th leading scorer last season. And there's more, including Wedeking, even though Coach Williams has only 14 grants to give out, six or eight fewer than most coaches have. Williams' chief assistant, Tom Wasdin, just loves to go exploring in places like, well, Evansville.
"Wedeking and Nelson were our first major recruits when we switched to university status, so I guess you could say everything started right there," said Wasdin. "I wish we could get the best boy in Evansville every year."
It was partly because of Wasdin's Evansville forays that McCutchan signed up the Dolphins for his annual holiday tournament. He reasoned that if he somehow could beat Jacksonville he might be able to stem the Southern tide. He reasoned, too, that his colorful Purple Aces were a plus. Not that they are purple. The team wears orange or white on the floor and robes of all different colors on the bench. The coach wears red socks, the fans dress in red and only the pompon girls are in purple.
"Colors are fun," says McCutchan. "I tell my teams that basketball should be fun." Well, this year's tournament was not much fun for Evansville, or for Fordham, the team that beat Arizona (82-74 in the consolation game), or Arizona, because Jacksonville was embarrassingly superior.
Joe Williams had said earlier in the season that he would not know what kind of team he had until the Evansville tournament, but after bashing the Aces into purple welts he still was not predicting a national championship or an undefeated season. "I think we've got a good ball club," he said. "Tonight I was looking to see how we'd react to pressure on the road. I'd say that we met a real tough situation and passed the test."
The players were less restrained in their locker room celebrations. Pembrook Burrows III gathered his choir in a sweaty circle for a spirited rendition of The Rooster, which Connie Haines never sang. It goes something like this:
Jacksonville has a rooster;
We put him on the fence,
And he crowed for the Dolphins
'Cause he's got good sense.
Hidey, hidey, hidey ho,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
Oh, what a team.
Jacksonville's got a team.
Indeed it does. But surely the Dolphins have some weaknesses, reporters asked Arad McCutchan during the tournament?
"They're very vulnerable," said the Evansville coach. "An 8-footer would murder 'em."