- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
A worldly 19-year-old, Chones is probably the Warriors' best shooter. His game is so stylish and fluid that he seldom seems to be overpowering anybody, and until this season he didn't. Chones gained 25 pounds during the summer and, at 225, is just learning how to use his muscle underneath. In the game that has been the key to the Warriors' season so far—an early contest at Minnesota—Chones came alive in the second half, scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds as Marquette won 70-61. "I dug Earl Monroe. I always patterned myself after guards," Chones says. "But I'm learning to do more inside. I've got the hook now, and on defense nobody gets layups—that's something personal. I'm not nervous anymore. I just want to get into the NCAA tournament where it's life or death and go up against Sidney [Wicks of UCLA]. That's what I'd really like."
Similar thoughts are echoed regularly downtown at The Gym, a campus beer haven owned by a former Marquette enforcer, Brian Brunkhorst, and tended over by Fat Jack Rusnov, roommate of The Evil Doctor Blackheart. Rusnov, whose memory of basketball lore, surnames and fanatical incidents is exceeded only by his knowledge of classical rock 'n' roll hits, is of the opinion that Marquette is a shoo-in for the national championship. "We beat Western Kentucky, Tennessee, and nip Indiana in overtime to get to Houston," says Fat Jack. "Kentucky? Coaching will hurt them. Then we beat a surprising Villanova team from the East under a fine coach, Jack Kraft, and against UCLA in the finals The Dream controls the game while Big Man stops Wicks. We win 67-64. It's a push."
The development of Chones, coupled with the play of seniors Meminger and Brell, has in no way lessened the contributions of the young McGuire and Lackey, a fearsome rebounder. The baby-faced Allie starts not because he is the fifth best player but because he can pass, play defense and fit the system better than a couple of other more talented individualists on the bench. "I'm not a star, like The Pistol," he says. "So it's harder on me with my father coaching. I'm a worrier and I haven't shot well, and maybe I shouldn't be in there. But the other four have helped, and I appreciate it."
Another starter, who has had difficulty getting along with Allie, is nevertheless cognizant of his value. "The kid needs to grow up," he says, "but he can play and he hasn't choked. If anything, he might be making our team."
Lackey, who is biding his time waiting for stardom next season, is an imposing figure and somewhat of an enigma to the Warriors. In Marquette practices, which always have been woolly affairs with no punches pulled, he has yet to be tested fully, merely because nobody wants to be the first to find out about him. Says Chones, "The first time I saw The Dude, he comes up to the room with those burns, that stare and those muscles coming out of his T shirt, and he has his boys from Evanston breaking his path. He just glides in, sticks out his hand and says, 'Hey man, I'm Lackey. I said, 'Oh my God!' " Meminger took one look at the junior-college transfer from Casper (Wyo.) and fairly squealed, "They got me a hoss."
Lackey frequently refers to himself by his own last name. When a player took a soft poke at him in a recent practice, for instance, he responded, "Don't do that again to Lackey." The other day, deciding he did not have the time to meet with a photographer, he threw back his head, bobbed it a few times and said, "Tell the cat that he'll have to wait on Lackey."
One person unfazed by the presence of Lackey is Brell, who has carved out his own saga and whose sometimes bizarre behavior is responsible for McGuire saying, "I'm the only coach in America with white problems." After the Warriors' victory in the NIT final, Brell could be seen hanging from the rim hacking at the net with a switchblade. Through the first four games of this season his hair grew to the unruly lengths generally associated with General Custer, and critical letters poured into the Marquette athletic offices. So McGuire had him trim it. Last week, after he had held Austin Carr to four points in the first half of Marquette's victory over Notre Dame, Brell credited his performance to "I Ching," a Far Eastern philosophy from which he garnered a "hexagram message" that he would be The Great Re-strainer against the Irish.
Before the game, Johnny Dee handed the German-born Brell a packet of mustard in a gesture calculated to counteract McGuire's "hot dog" move of having his players shake hands with the opposing coach at the introductions. Brell threw away the packet, claiming, "It was German mustard; he insulted my nationality."
Part of the time Brell lives in a nine-bedroom coed house with nine other people, and he claims to want to someday reside in "a commune out West."
"This is the same nut who complains about the quality of motel towels on the road," says McGuire.