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
Minutes later McGuire stormed into the locker room screaming, "Where is he?
That son of a bitch! I'll kill him! I'll cut his throat!" McGuire found
Toone sitting on a chair, chewing an orange. "He put his finger on my cheek
and pushed my face, so I reacted like a New York kid," says Toone, who grew
up in Yonkers. "I jumped up, grabbed him by the collar and flung him onto
the taping table."
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."
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
1 Jim Boylan
A 13-year veteran NBA assistant coach, now in his third season with the Bulls.
Lives in Chicago with his wife and two daughters.
2 Bill Neary
Lawyer at Lichtsinn & Haensel, a family ?and municipal law ?firm. Lives
with his wife and kids in Milwaukee.
3 Ulice Payne
Former CEO of the Milwaukee Brewers, now president of Addison-Clifton, a
consulting firm. Lives in Brookfield, Wis.